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July 27th, 2011, 06:50 PM
Hiya all,

I'm new to diving, this is my first post here, and I'm taking my open water certification course this Saturday and Sunday.

The master instructor at this particular school says that he offers exclusive prices available "ONLY to students." However, upon reading various reviews of the dive school, former students claim that they can get the same gear online for half the price, and that this "special" price isn't really very special at all.

My question is, is this a common practice? And, is it legit? I'd rather buy my gear from someone willing to take the time to work with me and give me honest opinions. Not from someone who is just trying to throw a pitch at me, in order to get me to buy $1,500 worth of over-priced stuff before the class begins (I heard a rumor that gear sales is where the money is at, not actual student fees).

Thank you in advance for your time/responses! :coffee:

July 27th, 2011, 06:58 PM
You'll find quickly that you can buy online much cheaper than from most local dive shops. There are countless (and probably more) threads on this board debating the relative merits of buying from the local guy vs. online. Odds are you're not getting a very good price from the local guy but there is more to consider than just price. As a new diver I'd recommend waiting and not buying equipment yet as your thoughts and understanding of what you want will evolve. It doesn't hurt to rent and try different things and read opinions on here about gear setup. Otherwise you'll do what too many of us have - end up re-buying everything two or three times before you get it right.

Just my $0.02

k ellis
July 27th, 2011, 07:28 PM
It is common practice to give discounts to students. but you kind of have to look at it from both sides of the fence before you can really understand whats going on. A LDS or local dive shop may sale (Just an example for the sake of arguement) 10,000 dollars worth of gear per month. Now of that 10,000 dollars per month they would need to pay upkeep on a pool should they have one salaries of any one the shop employs as well as the owner would not want to work for free. Then you have utilities which would eat the 10,000 down to almost nothing giving them a narrow profit margin so they would have to charge a little more to stay afloat.

Now compare that to an online shop that sales all over the world and again for the sake of arguement sales equal to 500,000 dollars per month with their pool maintenance and everything they have simliar to the dive shops. But now instead of buying 10,000 dollars worth of product they buy 500,000 worth and get a larger discount which then can be passed to the consumer. so naturally people are in the same boat as dive shops. People want to dive economicly and want to save their money just as bad as dive shops want to make a huge profit so there is a tendency to buy more product online.

Im not going to lie I will buy most everything online if it means I can dive for thousands cheaper then buying localy.

Now to answer your question I am not familiar with your shop but this is where shops usually make their biggest dollar and thats to hem you up before you really know whats going on in the scuba world. They offer supposed deep discounts to students if they buy right then and there because they know after certification divers will begin to see what they really want and learn how to shop around for better prices.

July 27th, 2011, 07:40 PM
You both make very valid points to consider.

I'd like to have my own gear to get used to while going through the class. Then again, seems like the most logical course of action would be to just use the course gear, then buy my own afterwards. I'll be doing plenty more dives throughout the course of my life, anyway :)

I figured it was a bait-and-hook-newbies sort of thing. I wanted to avoid being pressured into buying anything, but I guess I'll just stomach it and learn what I can with what they've got in the pool.

Thanks, guys!

On a side note, what does everyone think about this package with the AirSource 3, and a back-inflate BC substitution? I've read on here that Suunto is solid, and the Titan is a good starter regulator. Truth?

Aqualung Essentials Package | Atlantic Edge Dive Center (http://www.atlanticedge.com/node/2330)

July 27th, 2011, 07:53 PM
I'm sure that package kicks ass but like what was said previously, you're bound to change your mind at least a few times in the months to come and you might regret it. I almost bought an oceanic package from my lds which would have worked just fine, but after having tried a few different rigs out i'm very glad i didn't buy the first thing that was pitched to me. Are you going to be diving a lot, if not, just wait and see. The good deals, both online and locally, will always be there.

July 27th, 2011, 08:08 PM
Stop. Backup. Don't buy a reg/BCD/computer yet.
Spending $1000+ on scuba gear represents a certain amount of financial commitment to the sport.
You may find out that you have a medical condition incompatible with scuba, difficulty with ear-clearing, or extreme anxiety underwater.
You might also learn that you don't like it that much, would rather spend your leisure time doing something else, or that life events (marriage, children, new job) lead you in another direction. That type of stuff happens to everybody.
Why pressure yourself unnecessarily to continue on with the sport? Take it one step at a time.

Some shops/instructors specify that students need to purchase their own personal gear, including mask, snorkel, gloves, booties, and fins. You can purchase that stuff anywhere (Craigslist, online, local shop, instructor you're training with). Shop around. Get gear that fits. You don't need to spend $300 on Force Fins dipped in solid gold. A simple set of $27 Tusa Liberator paddle-style fins might work out just fine for the time being.

Any instructor or dive shop that pressures you to purchase the "big" stuff (reg, BCD, dive computer) prior to you completing OW certification really doesn't have your best interests in mind.
Wait until after you are certified before purchasing all of that.
At that point, you'll have a better idea of what features you like and what works best in the environment(s) that you'll be diving.

There's nothing wrong with Aqualung gear...or Scubapro gear...or a lot of gear made by other scuba manufacturers.
If you are considering getting an octo/inflater combo like the AirSource3, I highly recommend that you try doing a shared air ascent with your buddy.
Many of us have decided to get a backup/octo that is virtually identical to our high-quality primary reg. There's a reason for that.
If you are considering getting an Aqualung/Seaquest BCD with the i3 lever mechanism, I would recommend that you do an in-water demo of a BCD that has the i3 feature. It probably will work fine in the water, but my only concern about the system is that it relies on a push-pull rod mechanism inside the BCD. What is the long-term outlook for repairing/servicing that mechanism? Exposure to saltwater over several years will break down pretty much any scuba gear. How much will it cost to replace/fix the push-pull rod mechanism if it breaks/wears out? The i3 is a fairly new feature Aqualung has brought to market.

The argument has been made that you don't want to purchase your gear multiple times. Buy right, buy once.
Although there's something to be said for researching gear purchases diligently, the longer you stay with the sport, you can expect your interests to evolve. Those interests might demand that specific gear choices be made. That's unavoidable. Probably best just to accept the fact that at some point, if you stick with the sport, your dive closet will grow. You'll eventually be able to outfit one or more divers in addition to yourself. That's the nature of accumulating and upgrading gear. Mark my words, one day you'll have a backup for your backup. :D

Enjoy your class. Do your homework. Read ahead. Ask lots of questions. Practice your in-water skills. The instructional agency may only require that your instructor witness you doing the skill correctly once...but, in order for you to be comfortable with the skill, you'll probably have to do it 50+ times. I'm not kidding. You might as well invest the time in practicing those skills at the beginning with a pro watching over you. It will make your transition to OW diving that much easier.

Have fun!

July 27th, 2011, 09:03 PM
Like the above posters mentioned, don't buy gear until you know you want to dive, and know what you want to dive in. I did not buy my own gear until I had tried a few different set-ups to see what I liked. I found the jacket style BC I was offered was not what I wanted and ended up getting an BP&W. I also found I hated consoles and chose instead to get a wrist mounted computer. You need to dive to figure out what works for you, otherwise you will be like the many, many people on kijiji / craig's list selling their almost new gear at a large loss.

k ellis
July 27th, 2011, 09:11 PM
You guys are right. I personally fell into the you need this here and now trap and well I got a whole spare room full of gear now. Not that it was a bad thing but none the less I did spend a lot of money I probably did not have too.

Like say just rent gear for a while and try out diffrent kinds of gear. As you can tell on here there are those who swear by their BPWs and then you will find those who swear against them. Youll find those who swear by air2s and their competitive equvilents and then there are those who support them.

In short ask for some advice but take advice as what it is. Either people are pro or anti with few in betweens. Try the gear yourself and dive several times with them and attempt to do it in various conditions. Then make your own informed decision!

July 27th, 2011, 11:58 PM
This post digs deeper than it first seems. When you buy gear online(I have) are you getting the support (if you need it) that you would get from your LDS? I was in the pool on Tuesday with an OW class and we also had a certified diver join us who had just purchased an AL "package". I helped him get acquainted with his new kit and answered questions that came up while he was diving his new stuff. I also helped him get his weighting figured out( for his current config ) can you get that from your online retailer? That said I am buying a wetsuit for my newly certified daughter online. The LDS I work with does not carry the brands that have the attributes she needs at this time ( big ankles, small every thing else) but the shop owner knows I looked at what she had first...why...the one on one support that can occur with your LDS. call me a hypocrite if you like but I have bought from LP ST and others. But only items my LDS cannot provide. ever buy air online? well run your LDS out of biz and we might hafta.
/TC-89155/TS-501183.mp3 (http://recordings.talkshoe.com/TC-89155/TS-501183.mp3)
Here is a great podcast from an LDS owner that talks about this exact topic. BTW it is a great way to spend a Tuesday eve in the chat room while he records live, tell em Dave sent you!
off the soapbox now and donning my flame retardants.

k ellis
July 28th, 2011, 12:10 AM
ever buy air online? well run your LDS out of biz and we might hafta. Where there is a demand there will be some one with a solution. Fire departments have air fills and there will be other places pop up. I dont want my LDS to go out of business but I dont want to go bankrupt either. I say let business run its natural course.

All through out history things have came and went with the dreaded what ifs but some how something always came along to save people from the what ifs. Match some prices and they will survive. Continue to over price things rediculously and watch how that works for them.

Anyway thats not the point of this thread so I am done with this and sorry for getting off track guys

July 28th, 2011, 12:20 AM
I agree that there are often paradigm shifts. LDS must compete with online retailers. The jist of what I was saying is support after the sale. I don't need help tossing a hog rig together, but how many that look at this might. At the same time I think we are at a point where the LDS must adapt to a new market or go the way of the dinosaur. I don't have the answer to the LDS vs net, if I did I would have enough dough to search for new wrecks:) just tossing my opinion in.

July 28th, 2011, 12:21 AM
The package your LDS is offering you may indeed be very good, in comparison with what THEY normally charge for the same gear. In point of fact, it's like hotel rooms. Nobody pays rack rate -- and nobody pays full retail, unless they are very foolish. My guess is that the package deal you are being offered is a substantial savings off the full retail price . . . but not a savings at all when compared to any kind of discount shopping.

You've gotten a ton of good advice about not rushing into gear purchases. But I will say that the ability to try things on, and to get a local warranty and service, is worth some money. My first drysuit went back three times for warranty work; I would have had far more trouble with the issue, had I bought on line.

July 28th, 2011, 12:26 AM
Treat it as you would any other major purchase....

1) Decide what you want/need. Do your research. Draw up a short-list.

2) Get multiple quotes.

3) Purchase the items that you want, at the best price.

From my experience, I'd estimate that 8/10 frequent divers who purchase kit directly from their training provider before, during or immediately after their entry level training normally end up dissatisfied with that kit and have to upgrade it within 2 years.

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