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Dive shops and training: the disconnect with reality

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by gcbryan, Feb 8, 2010.

  1. gcbryan

    gcbryan One Bad Hombre

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Seattle
    If you're tired of reading the what's wrong with diving threads (and aren't we all :wink:) here's your chance to bail out now......

    Most of the issues regarding dive training and the issues involving dive shops have been discussed but I think the biggest issue is just the disconnect with reality for the newer diver. It's kind of a lack of respect or a disillusionment that comes shortly after the OW training process. This can't be good for dive shops, instructors or the industry as a whole.

    There shouldn't be a gap between what you were told at the dive shop or in how you were trained and what you find reality to be just a few short weeks later.

    When you first sign up for OW classes you assume that everyone connected with the dive shop are knowledgeable and excellent divers. You assume that you will be trained to the standards of a competent diver and that you will be sold the correct dive gear.

    A few weeks after completion of dive training in many cases you will have realized that yes, there is such a thing as swimming on your back where you can see and where your back doesn't hurt from the weights on the weight belt.

    You will have learned that snorkels aren't needed for diving and you may realize that all of the equipment that you were just sold could be bought much cheaper elsewhere and in many cases that the equipment that you were sold just weeks ago isn't the equipment that you now wish you had.

    You will realize that you need to think about streamlining gear, something that may not have been covered in class. You will go back to the dive shop and now start to buy retractors and octo keepers of one type or another. You will then realize a few weeks after that that retractors are a joke as well. You will get tired of buying tank lights for night dives and will buy battery powered ones found at the dive shop. Soon you will wonder why in the world are you using tank lights.

    You will go into the dive shop to ask about dive conditions at local dive sites that aren't training dive sites and you will realize that perhaps no one in the dive shop actually dives anywhere other than the training sites and can't therefore answer your questions.

    Later after you have a few more dives you will see your instructors diving somewhere and realize that some of them aren't even very good divers.

    There are exceptions to all of these comments but in general there is a very big disconnect with reality for the newer diver that shouldn't be there.

    It's not long before a diver realizes that there is nothing that they want to buy that is offered for sale in their local dive shop and that when they need expert advice that the dive shop is the last place they will turn to.

    There is no need for anyone to take offense to this characterization because if you are a dive shop instructor or employee and these things don't apply to you then there is nothing to be offended by.

    For most everyone else I think you can identify with what I'm saying at least to a degree. If you are a newer diver and this post opens your eyes at all or describes what you are experiencing at the moment maybe it will make you ask more questions or blindly trust others less. Maybe it will even save you a little money.
  2. Doc

    Doc Was RoatanMan

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Chicago & O'Hare heading thru TSA 5x per year
    Wait until you get old enough to get married.

    Good that you learned all of this stuff now.
  3. a22shady

    a22shady Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: New Jersey
    I have to say that is why I basically interviewed all the dive shops in my area to see who I liked the best. In which I did and I am extremly happy with my Training/Gear. All though it did take an Extreme amount of negotitans I did wound up getting the deal I could settle for. I could have saved a few more dollars buyin on the net But they met me at where I could deal with.

    As for training they are top notch and sell top of the line equipment. The never once tried to force me into any gear or anything specific. When I asked about something they explained the Benefits and negatives of it like when it came to "BC". After alot of time with them and the Equipment. I had wound up purchasing the Halcyon Eclipse System. They had a great special going on where i also was able to get the Doubles wing for $100 more.

    I went with Scubapro MK17/G250V w R295 as back-up. Now the owner dives his Atomic M1's and loves them. He said if he didn't have his M1's he would dive the Scubapro's. Ofcourse everyone has his opinon. Ofcourse when it comes to computers they like wrist mount. But I went with the Air integrated Proplus 2. Mt Girlfriend did go with Diverite Nitek Duo wrist computer with Pressure guage.

    After that shortly we went to get our Drysuits. They recomemended 2 brands to us (which I already Began my research) But the DUI/Bare which were my top choices. Ultimatly I Went with The Bare suits. Very happy I did. So I understand where you are coming from and I can see this being done. But there some very good shops out there that will take care of you and has Excelent Training and real people actually diving.
  4. jbtut

    jbtut Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Utah
    I really liked taking the class at the University and would recommend one done by a university it if it is available. They don't sell anything, so there's no pressure to buy any gear. But we did discuss all of the different equipment and exposure protection and what is best for different types of conditions. The dive instructors were all very good divers and, because it was a semester long course we spent lots of hours in class and water covering the regular textbooks things and talked a lot about experiences of the instructors when things went wrong and what to watch out for. We also spent a lot of time in the water. It's not just clearing a mask once, but when you have 20 or 30 minutes allotted just to clearing a mask, everyone does it a dozen times and gets pretty good at it. It's not the quickest class, but it was thorough.
  5. dave4868

    dave4868 Old diver ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Vero Beach, FL, USA
    Maybe they were the exception, but, thankfully, the people working at my local shop were mostly active, experienced divers who provided lots of excellent information, advice, training and equipment choices, all with minimal hype or personal posturing or other BS.

    At my LDS, scuba discussions and OW training often included explanations of the reality versus the ideal, including emphasizing the fact that OW Certification is only a first step toward becoming a safe diver. It was always made clear that becoming a safe diver was an ongoing process of learning from experience and/or further training.

    Of course, there were the occasional lapses when an instructor or other shop employee would puff themselves up and/or provide narrow views or misleading advice, but it always seemed easy to spot.... :D

    Dave C
  6. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    You do not have to go through a university for this type of class. There are numerous independent instructors who are just as thorough and have the same approach regarding gear. Some shops will oversell and recommend stuff that 6 months from now you'll wish you never saw let alone spent money on. Others will ask questions, watch how you are in the water, and take what you want or are able to pay into account. THey put the needs of the student/customer first and what usually ends up happening is those people come back. And come back, and come back.
  7. Crowley

    Crowley Master Instructor

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Planet Crowley
    I would suggest the same sentiments could be applied to many different industries. Automotive - "yeah, you need a whole new carburettor" where a spark plug would do; Building - "yep you have dry rot and woodworm and rising damp, we'd better replace the whole wall" where a new roll of wallpaper would suffice. Finance - "invest in this stock", because it's only in the seller's interest to do so.

    The vast majority of mechanics, builders and (well, maybe only a few!) bankers will I am sure give you honest advice from well trained staff.

    The fact that this occurs in the diving industry is not, I think, the fault of the dive industry. I think it's down to simple human avarice and the desire to make a quick buck.

    Look around, test the water (so to speak), do a little research beforehand. If I'm going to spend a lot of money on something, I want to know it is being well spent. To assume that one's mechanic/financier/insurance salesperson/burger server/builder/estate agent/teacher/doctor is wise and knowledgable, experience and good at their job, simply because they have a qualification that says it is so is a little foolish, I think: to "Assume" makes an "ass" out of "u" and "me".

    Neither is it necessarily the fault of the people who trained the people in question, or the designers of the courses they undertook. The fact that disappointment, overpricing, inferior quality and stupidity occur in the dive industry should not be a reflection on the dive industry as a whole. Bad experiences happen everywhere - did you ever get a cab driver you didn't like and one you did? - but some of these bad experiences can be prevented by checking around beforehand.

    Plinkety plink

  8. fnfalman

    fnfalman Orca

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southern California, USA
    If people don't know by now that mail order or online purchases are cheaper than shop purchases...

    As far as equipment configuration goes, what the shop technicians/instructors dive with may not be what you want after a while. You can't even get two people on SB to agree on equipment configuration.

    As far as knowledgeable store representatives go, it all depends. If you were to go to an honest-to-goodness dive shop then chances are the sales guys and gals may know what they're talking about. If you were to go to a big chain store where the typical sales people are minimum wagers helping out the folks in bicycling, running shoes, mountaineering all in the same day, then chances that those sales people may not be up to snuff with SCUBA. Also, don't go into a rec diving store and expect the experienced diver sales reps to know about backplates, double tanks rigs, sidemounts, trimix, heliox, etc.
  9. greylion

    greylion Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Chi-Town
    :rofl3: They ought to hand out a truth in advertising disclaimer to young brides. Then again, I'm not exactly the same guy I was 37 yrs ago.
  10. gcbryan

    gcbryan One Bad Hombre

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Seattle
    I guess some of the things that came to mind for this post are the simple things that cause a disconnect...stores full of retractors that are longer in their retracted state than your original problem or having everyone surface swim face down when most everyone will be on their back after class is over or over exaggerating the utility of a snorkel when this will not be the case after class is completed.

    Why carry products like retractors?

    When I complete a class in most anything else and run into the instructor a year later I still feel the same way about him/her rather than now realize how little they know.

    I've noticed that for some reason the online and local (I believe) shops in Europe as a whole seem to be better represented in the line of dive lights (for example) than online and local shops here. I don't know if that carries over to other products...maybe they have just as many retractors and other junk as we seem to have over here.

    We have Light Monkey and other good light manufacturers...that's not my point but most dive shops are filled with crappy dive lights (as well as other products) whereas Europe is filled with many hand held lights that are excellent and just aren't usually available over here.

    Most lights in dive stores over here are UK or Princeton plastic lights. They are available in Europe as well along with many much higher quality lights. If you walk into the average shop here you either buy an underpowered plastic light or you have to go elsewhere. It's just not representative of the way people dive (in many cases).

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