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Dive Center Horror/Hero Stories

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba' started by Trace Malinowski, Sep 2, 2018.

  1. Trace Malinowski

    Trace Malinowski Cave Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Alexandria Bay, NY
    No matter what level of training, experience, or interests we have as divers, the one thing that unites us is that most of us are customers of dive shops and resorts.

    I've been both a customer and employee for the last 37 years. I have lots of stories, good and bad, of experiences when walking through dive center doors.

    Sometimes, our experiences buying gear, getting fills, or just stopping in to talk diving aren't exactly enjoyable. Other times, visiting a dive shop or resort can make our day. Owners are often very hands on and can control not only their shops, but the atmosphere of the diving in their area. I'm interested in hearing about some of your best and worst experiences dealing with a dive shop or resort.

    Not the most notable, but off the top of my head ...

    I was a die hard supporter and visitor of Stuart Cove's in the Bahamas. I started diving with them when their shop was in Lyford Cay. One trip, my student was a doctor and also my fiancée. She started her class and pool training at PDIC HQ in Pennsylvania at the time. We did her open water training at Ginnie Springs in Florida then headed to New Providence Island for a vacation. I discovered there was no temporary certification card included in her student kit. Stuart Cove's would not let her dive without the temporary card even though I had her student training record which included an exact score given for each skill from Pool 1 to Open Water 5. They could actually view her progression scored skill by skill, class by class, week by week, until she earned her PDIC Open Water Diver certification. What's crazy is that they also had PDIC materials in the shop since Stuart, himself, was a PDIC instructor. They wouldn't let me buy a temporary C-card from them nor buy a student kit -- and I was an instructor who worked at PDIC HQ itself! They wouldn't even call PDIC HQ to verify that if there was one instructor who was teaching the PDIC system to the standards expected from the agency and beyond, it was me. I grew up there. I first walked into PDIC HQ at age 13 and rose through the ranks and was practically part of the family that owned the agency. Anyway, they wanted her to pay for an instructor to do her checkout dives (which had already been done). She was young, smart, fit, etc., and nothing would indicate she wasn't qualified to go diving.

    We walked out of Stuart Cove's and called Dive Dive Dive and Nassau Scuba Centre. Frasier Nivens had once been an instructor and manager at Stuart Cove's, but went on to run Nassau Scuba Centre. Dive Dive Dive couldn't believe the stupidity of Stuart Cove's over that and gave me blanket free charters since I'd be babysitting my fiancée anyway on her first ocean dives. I've never been back to Stuart Cove's since. I supported Dive Dive Dive and Nassau Scuba Centre. In fact, I haven't been back to New Providence since Dive Dive Dive and Nassau Scuba Centre closed their doors. I don't know if I'd ever dive with Stuart Cove's again.

    What are your horror/hero dive center stories?
    Compressor, Preach, sigxbill and 2 others like this.
  2. KeithG

    KeithG Guest

    Can't really label the specific dive instructor but the first (and only) time I have seen a rebreather was on a vacationing dive instructor group leader who constantly bicycled and sculled and crashed into the reef.

    We swam away from his cluster as soon as we hit the water.
  3. fisherdvm

    fisherdvm Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    I dove with Stuart cove twice on two different trips. Didn’t have any issues. Must be a stupid manager on premise. Had a problem with the owner operator of Caribbean Diver in freeport, Bahamas... who insisted that I dive with a leaky free flowing octo. Would not replace it until I begged him a dozen time from the water.
  4. Dogbowl

    Dogbowl Contributor

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Somewhere
    I had my only horrible dive experience in the Keys with an oft recommended dive shop. My experience there, and in the general area, has made me decide never to go back. I experienced extremely rude behaviour from the girls at the reception of this establishment, and the girls that worked the rental department. B*tchy is the only way to describe it. I asked a simple question, “Can I hire a private DM for tomorrow?” ended up with her literally walking away from me and refusing to answer my questions. My husband and I were left standing there wondering what the h*ll happened? Another question to a different girl at reception about stamping my log book ended up with an uncalled for lecture. Unfortunate because our DM was great. It’s also unfortunate since their attitude seemed to be pervasive in the area. I have my suspicions why. Shoulda chosen Conch Republic instead.
  5. chillyinCanada

    chillyinCanada ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    What is your suspicion?

    I've met more than one bitchy person at the front desk. There have been other times, that it was my original impression that turned out to be wrong.

    I'm trying to think of a time that I didn't enjoy diving with the crew. I've got nothing . . .
    Blueringocto_73 likes this.
  6. Landlocked123

    Landlocked123 Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Reisterstown, MD
    I had a LDS owner cuss me out because I showed up with a tank I had bought on line. I had been giving this LDS my fills business for years. I actually still do. Probably he just had a bad day and we all do but it seemed a tad harsh. LOL
    Trace Malinowski likes this.
  7. RTC'83

    RTC'83 DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: North Texas
    I walked into and LDS this w/e, needed an air fill, never been there before. I looked them up for directions and they had less than stellar reviews. I needed the tank fill so I went in. Nice shop, got to the counter and was greeted very well, they took my tank and i picked up a couple of consumables. My tank was ready, handed them the items I bought, and the guy said $ 14.96, I paid, looked at the receipt and told him that he did not charge for the air fill. He said it’s always free.
    I had a good experience and will go there again.
  8. JamesBon92007

    JamesBon92007 Contributor

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Southern California...too far from the ocean
    This was a few years ago but I bought a small boat which I usually launched at Dana Point Harbor. There was a Laguna Sea Sports that was along the way home and I could very easily just pull over with my truck and boat/trailer and take my tanks in to get filled. I had bought an Air Card from them and they very rarely punched it. I still have several fills left on the card but the dive shop is no longer there (Costa Mesa). It's not like I was buying a lot of equipment from them--usually it was only air fills. I got the impression that if you told a good enough dive story they didn't charge for air. My ex-wife did get her certification at their other location and I felt she got the best instruction available but all-in-all they were just a great dive shop.

    They had a picture of Mike Nelson in the display case that was signed "To My Friends at Laguna Sea Sports--Lloyd Bridges" so I guess he thought so too!
    Trace Malinowski likes this.
  9. bowlofpetunias

    bowlofpetunias Oh no, not again! ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Sydney Australia
    Problems arise when management can not or does not deal with "personality conflicts between a staff member and customers". When a manager comments that he knows you and some of the other female divers have problems with a specific staff member they should do something about it instead of insisting the customers are wrong!

    This person also did the gear service. Years ago I bought a new reg. It was very new technology and the first one sold in Australia. When I picked it up the guy was showing it to some customers in the shop. I took it home and decided to try it in our pool before taking it diving. It breathed terrible and I couldn't get the thing to purge. Hubby checked it as well. I took it back to the shop and said I couldn't dive with it as something was wrong. He challenged me on it even asking me if I had turned the tank on right:idk:. I told him hubby couldn't get it working right either and insisted I couldn't dive with it.

    He took it apart and said it was put together wrong and accused me of taking it apart! I told him that we hadn't taken it apart and he indicated he didn't believe me:bicker:. At this point I was pretty ticked. I pointed out that we were not stupid enough to negate the warranty by messing with a brand new piece of gear without a single dive on it. I reminded him we had our gear serviced every year in that shop to keep the warranty valid. I reminded him that he had been showing the reg to some other people when I came in to pick it up so it was more likely HE had assembled it wrong! He reversed the diaphragm, it worked and he handed it back to me without further comment.

    Couple years later I found my occy was breathing really hard. I took it in to the shop and explained the Occy wasn't breathing right. In a condescending voice he said "It's and Occy it is supposed to breathe hard" I said "Yes I know but this is different. I couldn't complete a dive on it" He said "You aren't supposed to. You are supposed to only breath on it long enough to do an immediate ascent to the surface!" I reminded him that many of our dives are at sites where boat traffic makes it unsafe to surface immediately. He took it to the workshop for a few minutes and brought it back and said he had tuned it and it was ok now."

    Next dive it was breathing heavy still but functioning. My gear was due for service a couple weeks later so we decided to take it to an affiliate of the shop instead of dealing with him. We got a call from the service tech to tell us my Occy needed to be replaced. He said he couldn't fix it. He asked me if I remembered anything that might have damaged it. At that point I remembered getting trashed on a dicy entry a couple weeks before I had the first guy look at it.

    Needless to say we took our business to the affiliate shop. We let them know that if they let the other fellow touch our gear we would take our business elsewhere!

    The problem was the guy had a condescending attitude to females and wouldn't listen. Management insisted he was the best gear tech available and just lacked people skills. I disagreed on the first count and agreed on the second. In the end it cost the shop a lot of business. I know a number of people who dived regularly got fed up with this guy's attitude and took their business elsewhere.
  10. Marie13

    Marie13 Great Lakes Mermaid ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Great Lakes
    My shop is DRIS. As someone posted somewhere on SB, the real test of a shop is how they respond when things go wrong.

    Ordered a Fusion a month ago. Was supposed to have it originally in something like a week, but let’s just AL say didn’t seem to have a clue. Or maybe that was the mfg rep. Anyway, after the first week when it was clear they had no idea when my suit was going to ship, Mike told me to come into the shop and get a loaner out of the rental fleet. Free. Picked up my suit last night.

    That allowed me to get used to diving dry again after a year of diving wet, and I’m not starting from zero when I get my suit wet tomorrow. Hell, I’ve been on the lake already for a few charters diving dry.

    I wish all of you with crappy LDS could be as spoiled as we are with DRIS. Yesterday when I was in the shop, someone had driven down from somewhere in WI to bring his drysuit in for repair and get something else. I know people who regularly come from Indiana, and there are a lot of us who drive 50-100 miles round trip from elsewhere in the Chicago suburbs and IL.
    Trace Malinowski likes this.

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