Being in the "Big Game Fishing" business I'm naturally very keen on the market around me when it comes to pricing, boats and quality of product information available. With the internet now we have all sorts of "options" available online. Great looking sites, look very professional, but what do you know about this company, I mean it's not exactly Amazon now is it? With companies like Master Baiter's or Mikes Fishing, you can easily find the owner and get any contact information you may want. But when you're looking at some web page which is booking second or third rate fishing boats in Puerto Vallarta, what do you know about these people or this company. Remember online sites are not regulated by the authorities. What does this mean, stay tuned!
These days with the internet you can find a company or Service industry to rent or purchase just about anything.So it's no surprise as of late that several people in places like Detroit, California and Canada for example have formed "Fishing Charter Boat" Booking sites. Some guy behind a computer plucking pictures off Facebook and searching facebook sites for boats in areas like Puerto Vallarta. The same goes for Cabo or Mazatlan. Remember any bozo with a laptop can build a web page. So when you think about booking a tour or fishing trip, what do you know of this "booking" company? Pictures look nice, terms look reasonable, even the price is right. Switching gears a bit, If you're a business, doing business in the area, we have a series of legal mandatory licenses we have to comply with. Things like insurance, safety items, radios as silly as that sounds and more requirements that do not come into "play" with a "foreign" booking company. You may ask "what do I mean by that"? Well it's simple, those with a real business in Puerto Vallarta as mentioned earlier have mandated qualifications to insure you are going out with a legal and safe company. This all became obvious to me in the last few years after several of these companies contacted me wanting to "book my boats". Seems like a decent idea, the more people pushing my boats the better, right? You would be wrong. You see, these companies talk with anyone who has a facebook page. Or just a boat and an email address. You don't even have to prove you have a boat to a booking Agent" to advertised on their sites! These companies will post and book "My" boat for me. Of course they take a nice little commission.
At this point, you can only hope the boat your went fishing on has insurance, but what if they dont?
Without getting too picky, a few of these different companies started posting my boats! Three different companies started posting my boats, by other people who didn't own them! When I contacted these foreign "booking agencies" to them to let them know they had to take my boats down, they told me to go BLANK myself! I looked into what I could do about it, turns out nothing.
Well this creates the question, where is the responsibility of those booking agents renting boats online in a foreign country? If something happens, the laws in mexico say the renting agent is responsible for uninsured boats where clients get injured. No grey area on this in Mexican law. You can't take legal action against the boat, it has to be the agent under Mexican law because this person or company put you on an unsafe and therefore an illegal charter boat! As a consumer, do you really want an unaccountable "agent" which is out of the country you're fishing in?It's a potential nightmare from the beginning. Remember there are no liability laws in Mexico and then there is the legal system itself. You basically have no protections or guarantees for your safety, your transaction and even if the boat that shows up, if there even is a boat. How would you know until it doesn't show up? What are you going to do call Canada the morning of as the boat doesn't show up? TripAdvisor, forget it. If you have a serious injury or death, at that moment is not the time to be looking at what your "legal" options are. At this point you realize that pretty web page was just another unregulated illegal player looking to make fast money at your expense. So before you "book" a boat, for any location, you need to check where their home office is. If it's not in the city you're going to, in this case Puerto Vallarta, who and what are you dealing with? A local phone number is the easiest way to recognize who you're dealing with. Most of these boats will have a Facebook page, but that doesn't mean anything either, any bozo has a facebook page.
Now we've just talked about these "under the radar" companies and the lack of legal responsibility. The same goes for many of the local tour companies like Vallarta Adventures. You can find sites all over the place selling tickets under the wholeale cost as well. So this is nothing new, but a hard lesson to learn. When booking a boat in locations like Puerto Vallarta, Cabo, Mazatlan, Costa Rica or even Panama for example, picking a fishing location with a "bookikng agent" in Detroit, you have to ask yourself why would anybody use a third party when you can go directly to the source? This would be a good policy to follow, just go to the source. Have an issue, there is nobody you can go to. Now you can start legal action, but when dealing with some web page out of Calgary this can be expensive and consume more money and time! Which is exactly what any shady company online would rely on.
The bottom line is this, it's easy for "foreign" companies to book boats in other countries with no real concern of unsafe and frankly illegal boats are on their websites. We haven't discussed the quality factor. Does your captain speak English, is he insured and can they as a foreign company prove it? What happens if you don't have a boat show up or even if a different boat than the picture shows up? You might be booking my boat, which isn't theirs and what shows up isn't going to me "my" boat! So the lesson of this article is: Do your research, check the location of the company you're booking through, ask what the refund policy is as a third party foreign booking agent. If you have a problem picking a fishing company outside of Puerto Vallarta contact me, I'll help. I have many other times and I'll help is asked...
Until next Time, don't forget to kiss your fish...
medisThe trade name Master Baiter’s ® Sportfishing and Tackle is protected under trade mark law and is the sole property of Stan Gabruk.