Demo charges

I won’t mention the dealers name but they charge $50 to demo one of their yaks. I think this is not a good policy. Is this the norm? It’s like buying a new car and then being charged to test drive the car doesn’t sit well with me. FishHawk

the $50 come off the price if you bought the boat? some dealer do this as way to combat “free boat rides”. They usually let you try a bunch of boats for the same $.


I’ve seen some do it
I think just to keep people from using it as a cheap form of entertainment. Like wanting to paddle every kayak ever made with no intention of buying. Most credit that amount if you buy.

I’ve had other shops who will load a couple boats on their vehicle and drive you to a local lake to demo for free. But there was no doubt that I was serious about buying.

I don’t mind if I think there’s a good reason for it. If they are just trying to make money I shop elsewhere.



Local store charges $20
for a 30 minute test paddle, taken off the price of the boat if you buy. I’ve paid that fee gladly a few times, since no one else had the boats in question available yet alone to test paddle…

Another store does not charge and you can take it for a full day…

$50 for a test paddle is too much IMO unless it is a full day rental or something similar (Marshall’s approach seems really good to me).

Think of it as Rent
I’ve rented boats from the local dealer for the weekend. The rent is reasonable. They’re happy. I’m happy.

Had a fee posted, did not charge

– Last Updated: Nov-06-10 1:40 PM EST –

Recently bought from the Kayak center in Wickford RI. They do have a demo charge, but I didn't know it until I saw a sign, when I was paying for the boat. They do I believe put it towards the boat.

Of course I don't know this, but I figured perhaps that have that posted to cover themselves in case they get someone who keeps coming back in to demo boats, and may give a few demo's "on the house" at first.

That seems fair to me, as a buyer: they took time to talk to me about what I wanted to do, my skill level, and the various boats. They took down boats for me to sit in in the shop. They are on the water, so its not like they had to take boats anywhere, but I still took several hours all together (2 demo sessions), and had 2 - 3 people helping me.

I think it was good for them to not charge me the first time, and would have understood if they did the second visit.

It someone loads boats on a trailer and takes them somewhere for me to demo, I would expect to pay for their time, gas, etc. As long as that came off the boat fee if I bought.

Charles River does not charge I believe.

I am with others
Paying a rental fee to demo, and then getting that amount taken off if you buy in a reasonable time afterward, seems normal. If you are obviously shopping, often they don’t charge the demo fee.

Along with the folks who are just looking for a free rental, there are also the folks who are looking to demo a boat so they can go buy it from their favorite dealer (who doesn’t have the boat for demo). The company that does have it should get something to cover them laying out the boat to have for demos or rentals.

depends on the selection
Back when I was starting out I called and asked a lot of questions to narrow it down then would have gladly paid the $50 to have them load a trailer and take them down to a launch site, but they didn’t have any of the the kayaks I wanted in stock at that particular time.

It’s a good idea for beginners to just take an intro to kayaking lesson that covers all the basic strokes, rescues, etc.

A demo day is also a good idea. I tested a bunch of kayaks at the ECCKF and bought one there from the same shop I had been pestering for a while. A prominent instructor was also kind enough to help me out all afternoon. It’s also fun to test out all the kayaks each year.

If I were buying another new one I would have to test it out in all kinds of conditions and they know that I was serious about buying as long as the kayak lives up to expectations.

That’s a good store,
even though they don’t know the first thing about canoes. Charles River is much better for open boats. If you’re ever up around Andover, check out Moor&Mountain. It’s like the '70’s all over again, man! Great store.

we do
$25 and i’ll take 2 or 3 boats wherever they want to meet me within a half hour of the shop. Refunded with purchase. Nobody bats an eyelash at that deal. These are mostly rec and day touring customers, so $50 for a high end boat seems right.


– Last Updated: Nov-06-10 3:56 PM EST –

When we were seriously shopping for sea kayaks none of the places where we demoed boats charged. The place from whom we bought our first sea kayaks simply encouraged us to come back every weekend and spend a day demoing boats. We not only bought 2 sea kayaks but paddles and additional gear from them. When a few years later we were ready to buy composite boats, we demoed boats at a few different locations spanning distances. None of them charged us to demo the boats. By the time we decided on what boats we wanted we had each tried well over a dozen models.

Of the 5 different outfitters from whom we have purchased boats, only 1 charged for trying boats. I do not object to outfitters charging to demo boats as long as that charge is taken off the purchase of a boat. These days if one of us is seriously interested in a model none of our friends own, we are just as likely to rent one from an outfitter and have it for a time.

Have you contacted the shop and talked with them about their policy?

Yes, Getting feed back on a forum such as this is a good idea… but why not just get an answer from them?

Demo Charges
Typically it’s $25 for 2-3 boats where I live which I feel is reasonably compensation for there time. Both times that I have done this I did not purchase the boat so I felt the test paddle was worth the money to see if the boat was for me. If I was really serious about a certain boat I would try to rent one for the day cause a test paddle tends to leave some voids as your usually under controlled conditions. On the other hand I test paddled some canoes over the Summer with no charge but I did end up purchasing one about a month later.

High but not unheard of
We’ve paid from nothing to $40 or so, but in all fairness that $40 was an all day all-you-could-demo fee. Had the Tstorm not arrived we’d have made fuller use of it… but I still walked away with enough info that we called and bought a boat I tried two weeks later.

That said, if that’s a per-boat fee you might be better off paying a bit more to take one of the boats you are interested in out on a guided tour, if that is possible. More time to tell if you like it for probably $20 more.

Also scratches

– Last Updated: Nov-07-10 7:34 AM EST –

I've been at demo weekends and see new people take out a glass boat and literally land it right up on shore with rocks there. I think some of the thinking is to discourage not only the free entertainment but the careless behavior by some of these people. Some of these people are the exact types who would not buy a boat with scratches or demand a discount.

The shop is on the water.
It’s not like I’m taking the boat for a free ride. I’ll talk to them and see what we can work out. I will narrow the choice down to a couple of boats and see if they will be willing to let me try the boat without a fee.

I keep thinking of the auto dealers. They wouldn’t sell many cars if you had to pay for a test drive.

Just rubs me the wrong way. Would for go the 50 off the price if they let me try it for free. FishHawk

Didn’t even notice …
… if Kayak Center had any canoes. They have a few other location, so maybe the one in Wickford is more about kayaks. Charles River does have canoes, I know, because there are many of them around the place.

If you

– Last Updated: Nov-07-10 3:39 PM EST –

Buy a boat they should apply the fee towards the purchase price. That's usually how it works. If they won't I would go somewhere else unless it's the only place in your area.

I think the paddlesport dealers
and the auto schmoos have very different business models.

The auto guys know how to rip you off without your knowledge and you say “thank you”.

The boat salesman if he has just one carless demoer has a scratched boat to fix. There isn’t much margin and now that scratched boat is “used” and the price plummets.

I think a charge is fair.

different experience
Several years ago had a very different experience at that outfitter. Left without demoing or buying a thing and was fairly offended. Bought a glass kayak elsewhere the next week and a year later bought the boat I wanted to demo from someone else.

Nice to hear things have changed, but I doubt I will ever go back.

I hate to post something negative but it goes to show that experiences can greatly differ!