Tales from the Cabin
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Extended Warranty

Cabin commerce can be the best kind

By Jon Huth
Published: October 1, 2006
Photo by Grace Huth
Part of the charm of lakeshore cabin living is the simplicity of life. For that reason, extended warranties are not likely to be a topic of conversation on the deck or dock. Such things seem to bring visions of pages of tiny type, conditions and exclusions and searches for receipts to verify date of purchase.  
Still, I have to tell you about my extended warranty, because it is an example of how it should be – especially at the cabin.
Several years ago, when we were just completing an extensive rehab of a family log cabin, our budget had been strained to the limit. But we were on a lake and yearned for a boat to go with our place.  
Earlier in the year, our neighbor Bert had posted his pontoon for sale. Bert was known to have the oldest boat and motor on the lake, and I thought his price was too high.
As the season wound down, the ad was still up on the board, so I called and offered him a lower price. To my surprise, he readily accepted.
I added that I could only pay him half this year and the balance next year. He again accepted. I pushed even further, telling him I would need him to pull the boat out of the water that fall and put it back in next spring – and deliver it.
Bert cheerfully agreed.
The next spring when we arrived at the cabin, the pontoon was sitting at our dock complete with a full tank of gas. It immediately became an integral part of our cabin life. We even embraced the distinction of piloting the oldest craft on the lake, complete with its plastic lawn chairs.
In my third season of ownership, we were making a slow circle of the lake when I spied Bert and his wife, Gail, on their dock. I asked if they wanted a ride, and they quickly accepted. As dusk settled in, I pulled out two flashlight-based marker lights and started clamping them to the back railings. Bert asked what they were for and I explained that we used them because the original lights did not work.  
“The lights certainly do work – I wired them myself,” Bert stated, but I showed him that the switch produced nothing. Bert was obviously disturbed that his handiwork was no longer operational; as we dropped him and Gail back at their dock he was still muttering about how those lights should be working.
The next morning we got a phone call. It was Gail telling us they were on their way over to work on the lights. A short time later, I found myself sitting aboard my boat watching Bert delve into the wiring as Gail held his voltage meter. After nearly an hour, he had the front marker lights going, but the rear and dome lights still puzzled him.
Just then another neighbor, Bill, arrived and – seeing the meter – asked Bert what he thought he was doing. Bill carries the unofficial title of resident lake electrician and seemed miffed at being excluded. He seemed oddly pleased, however, when he found that Bert was not able to complete the job.
The next morning, Bill called Bert to see if it was okay for him to have a look at the remaining problem, and shortly thereafter Bill was aboard my pontoon with his own meter.
As I held the meter for him, I couldn’t help but wonder at my situation: Two people vying for the job of bringing my vintage 1974 craft back to proper running condition. In less than half an hour, Bill announced his triumph and left pleased with himself.
We are now cruising the lake fully lit. There was no fine print to study, no warranty period to verify. Just three happy men on the lake who got what they wanted.

After trying to completely rewire Jon’s cabin, the Huth brothers are glad to turn the project over to a neighbor.

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