PALM HARBOR, Fla. (WFLA) – A consignment boat store in Pinellas County is being hammered by customers claiming they have been scammed out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Complaints are piling up against Gulf Coast Boat Sales in Palm Harbor after customers say they paid for boats and got nothing. Others tell News Channel 8 they sold the dealer’s boats and weren’t paid. And others got a boat, but still haven’t received a title.
Owner John Hartnett broke his silence on Friday, telling News Channel 8 that he was fully focused on a boat building business he owns in Oldsmar, and had no idea that so many customers had stayed dry at the Palm Harbor site.
He blames the CEO, who allegedly controlled the company’s transactions and finances. The manager tells 8 On Your Side that Hartnett is now throwing him under the bus and no decision has been made without his knowledge.
More than 20 customers called 8 On Your Side or the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office in desperation, wondering if there was any recourse.
Sandy and John Walling tell us they paid $41,000 for a brand new pontoon after meeting John Hartnett at a boat show. They found him at a booth for Gulf Coast Boat Sales and decided to sign a contract for a brand new boat. In a few months, they were able to pay for the entire boat. Right now they are obligated to pay insurance, dock fees and lender payments, but there is no boat.
“I just can’t believe people would do this to other people at this point. That’s a lot of money,” Walling said.
Rick Weaver says he shelled out over $24,000 for a boat that sits in his house because it doesn’t have a title.
“I like to do everything legally, and I don’t really want to get arrested and then have to figure out how to get out of it,” Weaver said.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is investigating these complaints.STORIES THAT OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON –
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