Marina with boats

Almost everyone has heard of a VAR or “Value Added Reseller,” but do we really know what that means? What is the added value and where does it come from? Well, I recently had an experience from the buyer’s perspective that I would like to share, as I really saw the “value.”

Those of you who know me, know that I am a long-time boater and am not afraid to do work on my own boat whenever I can. This past winter, while having some service work done by the marina where I keep my boat, they discovered that the batteries were not holding a charge. I knew that the batteries were several years old, so rather than worry about getting stuck somewhere with dead batteries over the summer I decided to go ahead and replace them. The marina (in this case my VAR or value added reseller) gave the option of sourcing the batteries myself or having them get them for me.

Considering a VAR

I did some quick checking and found that I could probably save $50-$100 if I got them myself. However, I saw some value in getting them through the marina. I’ll admit at the time the value I saw was born more out of laziness. These batteries are heavy (about three times the size of a car battery) and the thought of having to lug them down to the boat and either have the marina install them or install them myself was not thrilling, so I told them to just do it, cringing as I wondered how many “boat units” it might cost me. (Note: BOAT, stands for “Break Out Another Thousand”, hence $1K being a boat unit. Somehow sounds better that way… 🙂 )

Well, I happily started the boating season with new batteries installed by the marina. A couple weeks ago as I was getting ready to leave the dock with a group of friends on board, I had trouble getting the port engine started. It sounded like it was cranking slow, but I was able to get it going. We went out and anchored for a few hours. When it was time to leave, I again had trouble with the port engine. This time I had to “parallel” the two batteries to get it started (yes, there is a switch for that). At this point I was thinking that I had some kind of charging issue. (Great, more boat units!) Monday morning I contacted the marina and explained the issue and asked them to take a look.

So was the VAR worth it?

Later that week I went down to the boat in the evening. One of my dock neighbors told me that the mechanic had been on the boat most of the day. He said he was glad he wouldn’t have to pay that bill! I was silently adding up the units in my head when the mechanic called me to explain what he found. He said he checked the entire electrical system in my boat and could not find anything wrong. The AC charger was working fine, engine alternators were charging fine. The only thing left was an out of the box failure on the battery. They changed the battery and so far everything has been fine.

The best part? No boat units! They covered the cost of troubleshooting the issue AND replacing the battery. I can only wonder what that bill would have been if I had decided to try and save a few dollars by getting the batteries myself!

Sometimes you just have to stop and think, will I really save money if I try to save those few dollars and order it from Amazon? A value added reseller really can add value.