ProStock: Nice Fender, No Warranty


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Just under three years ago, we purchased a full set of ProStock Marine fenders. We like to be well-fendered so we ended up buying just over $2,000 worth of these fenders. In the intervening three years we have been super-impressed with them. They have been used in gales up against cement walls, when fueling from a steel barge in the open ocean surge in St. Helena, and in 73-kt winds where it is so rough that nearby boats have had cleats torn off the boat. What we really like about them is that, unlike our previous Aere fenders, they have held air without patches or service work.

We were surprised to wake up to find two of 18″x42″ ProStock fenders both failing the same night while we were Dublin, pictured above. Since the two failing fenders were both side-by-side, the boat came close to grinding against the dock and was saved only be the ridiculous number of fenders we typically use on Dirona. Here’s a picture of our normal fendering approach.


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Our normal fendering approach on Dirona.

 

The ProStock Marine fenders have a five-year warranty which suggests they are serious about building a long-lasting product. We let the manufacturer know we had a couple that failed while we were in Dublin. Since we have likely used the fenders more than the average boater, we asked that they consdier selling us replacement fenders at something close to their cost rather than replacing them outright under warranty.

ProStock Marine replied to our fender failure report that they felt we were in extreme conditions and a boat of our size would require much larger fenders. Looking at the picture above you can see that more fenders or larger fenders would be challenge. We are almost solid fenders all the way down the side. Nobody has ever looked at our boat and commented that we were lightly fendered or that the fenders were “small” :-).

Classifying temperatures in the high 30F range and winds in the mid-30s as “extreme” suggests that ProStock either doesn’t realize what boaters will see at the dock or they just don’t want to be asked for warranty service. I suspect the latter. As a waranty replacement proposal ProStock Marine offered 10% off of full retail price. 10% less than retail price is a long way from “we will repair or replace the product at no charge.” It also seems kind of nuts that ProStock would actually make a higher than usuual profit selling directly to us on a warranty replacement than they would make when selling new fenders to a retailer. It seems a bit unreasonable for ProStock to have a five-year warranty and yet ask for a higher profit margin on a warranty replacement. Since we bought the fenders in a fairly large purchase, the retailer we purchased them from gave us more than 10% off so, paradoxically, on this proposal we would be paying more than we would normally pay in the retail channel.


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The ProStock Marine warranty appears to be just a sales tool

 
Generally, I’m impressed with the fenders but having two fail in the same evening is a bit of a concern, partly because the boat could be damaged and partly because that ends up being a $500 evening. The ProStock Marine five-year warranty appears to be just a sales tool where they don’t actually do anything if the fenders do have a materials or manufacturing problem. The ProStock report that we need larger or more fenders seems a bit of out touch. The offer of 10% off of full retail price for a warranty replacement feels unreasonable.

We still think the fenders are pretty good, but I’m not particularly impressed with ProStock Marine as a company. I hate seeing the boat at risk from two sudden fender failures the same evening in only moderate winds. Waking up to needing $500 in new fenders isn’t great and the complete absence of warranty on a fairly expensive product is a concern. ProStock Marine seems like a good fender but a bad company.

 


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19 comments on “ProStock: Nice Fender, No Warranty
  1. Paul Wood says:

    Aircraft tyres, James. There’s a dive boat knocking about round my way that uses them. They don’t rust, which aesthetically is a huge bonus. https://www.vrakking-tires.com/boat-and-dock-fenders-tire/61-boatfender-aircrafttyre.html

    • Thanks Paul. Generally, we like an industrial/functional look but using aircraft tires would be a challenge for us from a storage space perspective and they are a bit ugly but I agree they are incredibly durable.

  2. George L. says:

    James – I saw your comments about Prostock fenders and as an extremely heavy user and one who routinely recommends these to Nordhavn owners and others I felt compelled to offer a reply. I have also purchased several thousand dollars of fenders from Prostock and have had a few failures but nothing ever due to routine use and I’ve had nothing but the absolute finest support from them. I don’t purchase from a retailer but from Prostock directly and their personal support offered to us has been superb. Whether needing repairs or replacement regardless of location they are there to take care of their customers. We used them extensively when crossing the Atlantic and we were routinely lying against concrete quays in commercial wharfs where the fenders were constantly grinding against splintered wood timbers, tires wrapped with rusty chain, or worse, and as you’ve discovered, in higher than normal winds. Condition as extreme as most pleasure boaters will ever experience. I understand your frustration but to be completely fair Prostock’s warranty states repairs or replacement are F.O.B. at their facility. You didn’t mention whether they refused to repair the fender at no charge if you returned the faulty fenders to them. Try that approach and I think you will get the support they offer in writing (if not better) and if it turns out to be a manufacturing defect I have no doubt they will replace the fender for free. In my experience there are no better inflatable fenders on the market, period and Prostock offers service to match.

    • George, I told them I was willing to pay all their costs. I basically feel like the fenders have seen a lot of use and said to Prostock Marine “please consider just giving us warranty replacement fenders at something close to your costs”. I really think they should offer to do more but but to refuse to do that is to have no warranty at all. I agree the fender does well in many conditions but the company doesn’t appear to one that will stand behind their products.

      Three incidents over the last two months have caught my attention: 1) A super yacht in Falmouth had all of it’s fenders blow up on dock in 53 kts winds. The boat was saved by the Marina staff installing conventional fenders that really weren’t that big but, since these non-inflatible fenders are much higher mass to area, they didn’t blow up and protected the boat, 2) in the same 53 kt wind in Falmouth, we had our sternward fender blow up on dock but were saved by other fenders along the same side, 3) we had the double fender failure in Dublin where two side-by-side fenders failed. In this case the boat was saved by the size of all the other fenders just barely keeping dirona off the dock in around 35 kts of wind, and 4) in 73 kts of wind in Portland, we had the front three fender all blow up onto the boat walkway. In this case, the boat was saved from damage only by the fact that the wind was blowing off.

      I’m starting to think that I need to augment our fendering package with some large Polyform fenders having seen them stay in place while the inflatables where landing on deck and dock in heavy winds. And, returning to inflatable fender choices, if warranty or customer service is an important part of the purchase, I would not recommend Prostock Marine.

      • George L. says:

        I understand James. If you have an interest do save the damaged fenders and when you return to the US send them to Prostock. I’m quite confident they will repair any failures for you as their warranty implies. I’ve taken fenders there which I have abused and which shouldn’t have been warranted but they repaired them for me at no charge.

        We experienced the same issue with fenders being blown on to the dock. I had small canvas bags made that I put steel shot in and hang from the loop on the lower end of the fender. That completely solved the problem. Good luck!

        • I’ll give your “weight inflatable fenders down” solution a try. Sounds like a good approach.

          On the ProStock Marine Warranty, I wish you were right but they came back with “the PF6 fenders (18×42″) are too small for a 52′ boat and we were operating in extreme conditions.” If the warranty only works in under 40 kts and over 35F, it’s not worth much to me. The best offer prior to this posting going up was retail less than 10%.

          I like the fenders and so I didn’t ask them to pay anything at all, requesting “replace the fenders at or near to your costs”. The Prostock Marine determination was “too small a fender in extreme conditions” even though the fenders are a foot and a half in diameter and the conditions were pretty typical for norther latitudes.

  3. Chris Barber says:

    Wow, they really picked the wrong customer to bail out on.

  4. Stewart says:

    Wow, nothing worse than a fender bender between fiberglass and concrete! Glad no serious damage occurred James. Wonder if anyone makes fenders reinforced with kelvar or some similar tough fibers?

    • There is a trade off between stiffness and avoiding seam leaks. Our first fenders from Aere used a wonderful, heavy duty material that would never have failed in the way we saw but the seams all leaked so they were effectively useless. Prostock Marine uses welded seams which completely solve the seam leak problem but they did that by going to a far lighter material that doesn’t take flexing in cold weather well. I suspect a better material could easily solve this problem.

    • Interesting. Thanks for posting Jan-Kees. I’m starting to get interested in augmenting what we use with some non-inflatible fenders. Three incidents in the last 2 months have caught my interest: 1) A super yacht in Falmouth had all of it’s fenders blow up on dock in 53 kts winds. The boat was saved by the Marina staff installing conventional fenders that really weren’t that big but, since these non-inflatible fenders are much higher mass to area, they didn’t blow up and protected the boat, 2) in the same 53 kt wind in Falmouth, we had our sternward fender blow up on dock but were saved by other fenders along the same side, 3) we had the double fender failure in Dublin where two side-by-side fenders failed. In this case the boat was saved by the size of all the other fenders just barely keeping dirona off the dock in around 35 kts of wind, and 4) in 73 kts of wind in Portland, we had the front three fender all blow up onto the boat walkway. In this case, the boat was saved from damage only by the fact that the wind was blowing off.

      After 8 years of never seeing anything other than good performance from inflatable fenders, we have seen 4 situations in two months where they failed to offer full protection due to either failure or being blown out of position. We’re contemplating adding some conventional fenders to our mix or trying some other approach to keep the inflatable fenders from blowing out of place.

      • Jan-Kees says:

        James, These Zig-Zag fender work perfectly for us, when moored along a concrete quai. These Zig-Zags are on both sides of the boat on top of the steel fender, and we use the inflatable fenders foor mooring and lock work. Last week with the heavy storm in NW Europe many inflatable fenders were dancing in the wind like balloons, just as quite a few truck and rooftops did. But the Zig-Zag did not flinch

  5. Lawrence Cremia says:

    I went the other direction and bought some no names that look exactly the same off EBay. $ 130 shipped for an 18″x60″. Our 40ft Sport Fisherman is 25,000 pounds and those fenders made it through everything including Hurricane Irma here in Florida. I figured at that price I could by 2 or 3, but they have held up well over the years so far.

  6. Jacques Vuye says:

    Very disappointing.
    They probably don’t get it that this is very damaging to their image, after all the positive feedback you’d given them over the years.
    And it’s stupid too : yours is probably a case in a several thousands, so standing behind their warranty would be financially immaterial!

    • I agree it is a bit odd from a customer support perspective. Both fender failures appear to be a materials problem when temperatures drop down near freezing.

      Because I like the fenders and don’t want them loosing money on us, I offered to pay something close to their costs but retail less 10% isn’t reasonable.

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