Calgarians out thousands after B.C. houseboating company goes under
Published Thursday, June 13, 2019 7:03PM MDT
Last Updated Friday, June 14, 2019 7:55AM MDT
Many customers say they've lost thousands of dollars after a popular B.C. boat rental company shut down earlier this month and add they are especially frustrated because the owners kept them in the dark.
Adam Avramenko and his friends booked a bachelor party with Waterway Houseboats in Shuswap that was to happen in a few weeks.
Avramenko said the group paid approximately $10,000 for the experience only to find out on Monday that the company was ceasing operations and cancelling all trips.
To make matters even worse, he was told no refunds would be given out.
“It was shocking disbelief to be honest that, that could happen I don't think it's fully settled in because we're just still trying to figure out what to do to get our money back."
When the group made the full payment in April, they didn’t know that Waterway Houseboats was in a legal battle with the B.C. government.
The company sued that province, the District of Sicamous and the land owners after it sustained damages following a flood in 2012.
A Supreme Court justice awarded $2.3 million to Waterway but the company said it wasn’t enough so it went into receivership.
The company posted on its website saying, “We know that this unfortunate series of events will be devastating for our employees, our customers and our suppliers. It is devastating for us as well as we’ve lost a life’s work.”
Many other customers have lost money too.
A few have even posted on Waterway’s Facebook page accusing the company of wrongdoing considering it knew the trouble it was in.
“Waterways knew about going out of business. Friends just paid $9,000 for their week and now can’t get their money back,” one comment read.
Camie Leard with the Better Business Bureau says not much can be done, as even the government has no regulations to help recoup losses.
“In certain industries, there are those sorts of protections at the government level in terms of construction, those sorts of things companies are required to keep money in trust in case something like this does happen but not every industry is protected that way,” she said.
Leard says it’s always best to keep receipts and documents of transactions, but legal action is costly and time consuming.
Customers also have the option of filing a complaint with Service Alberta and that agency's consumer investigation unit will look into cases.
Avramenko said his group paid with a credit card so there could be some protection.
“We're trying through insurance we'll see what happens," he says. "Obviously we won't make any headway with the company, the bank or the receiver, so it's kind of play it by ear and see what happens."