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Questions for OWD instructors

Discussion in 'SSI: Scuba Schools International' started by Digg, Feb 7, 2016.

  1. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    25,635
    17,070
    113
    We had a thread a few years ago about a shop that offered low price for the confined water portion of the scuba class via Groupon. After the class was completed, the instructor said that no one had passed, and if they wanted credit for the course, they would have to take the whole thing again at full price. That happened to be an SSI course as well, but the agency had nothing to do with it. That was a sleazy operator.

    For those who do not understand the concept of mastery learning in a course like that, you are not supposed to progress to the next skill until you have "passed" the previous skill, so if you complete the course, you must have passed it. If you are not demonstrating skills adequately early in the course, you can't complete it.
     
  2. Digg

    Digg Angel Fish

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    If I only came up something like this earlier....damn....
    I'd have avoided this scam, which from your lines seems structured exactly the same.
    Mine was a groupon too, same bold statements and same phantom issues arising only after the last (6th) dive.
    And your point is exactly what I thought: everybody is different, but unless other istructors certifying people the world over with 4 dives are awesome and teach like nobody else, or you (what was mine) istructor is seriously lacking to require 6 or more dives on everybody, with many having been required (to pay) for what ended up being 15 to 20 dives to get OW certified.
    This explains where the discount comes from: it's a future billing during the course (everything costed something, renting tanks, touristic dives at an extra cost making the difference to being certified or not) and specially AFTER the course, at a rate of 5/10+ dives each student, you get the calculator!

    So sad that not even calling SSI helped since they are covering him, believing in his good faith of caring for students safety (while I can assure you some students better than me didn't pass just 'cos they didn't give in to paying more like I did and some seriously lacking passed just 'cos of $$) and that even if they wanted to, they can't force him to issue certs.
    I've been told above and I'm sure this keeps happening because many people just get sad and don't report these kind of situations, preferring to just leave and never think about it again.

    If somebody reported in my area I won't have fallen in this trap.
     
  3. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    25,635
    17,070
    113
    So, to put it in the simplest terms, you are saying that you and an entire class completed a course and were told at the end that you were not good enough and would have to do more instruction at more cost in order to be certified--is that correct? You are saying that you contacted SSI and SSI backed the instructor--is that correct?

    As I said in my previous post, what you describe is possible, but it should be very rare. Student problems are supposed to be identified early and taken care of early. Students should not get to the end of the course still displaying such problems. There aren't many skills to screw up on the OW dives, and problems in those skills show up early, with plenty of time to be resolved.
     
    tstormdiver likes this.
  4. Digg

    Digg Angel Fish

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    Yes, to put it in its simplest terms, it happened what you resumed.

    To be specific, the istructor (probably thanks to its experience) didn't do it so obvious and under the sun to be liable for legal action, so a few students got certified right up mostly due to another "trick": we were offered different locations and times to do those 6 dives and each could compose them according to their needs since they were perfectly interchangeable.
    However some activies like diving in touristic places were often advertised (quite too often) and while never being mandatory, costing an extra (from which I'd guess the instructor himself took a part of his share too by bringing the scuba tourists to the place...dunno how you'd call this kind of action in english), made up the difference between getting the certification right after the 6th dive or being suggested to take part to more dives (which aren't included in the course/coupon costs being over the 6 open water dives agreed at the beginning) and while this suggestion came (in their own words) to make sure we perfected our skills, it became a firewall between getting OWD cert or not.

    Some gave into this and went up to 7, 8 dives while some even had to reach 12 or 20 before getting OWD. Some others instead, like me, just gave up and where never seen again.

    I have no problem thinking way more people than expected never report this or even think about it, since while sadness sets in for the lost money (and time, I drove for hours each time to get to the cheapest suggested diving places and slept in car overnight to be ready the following morning and save on renting rooms) and being somewhat accustomed to laws not being enforced here, you don't think about anything also but to move on and forget the bad luck.

    I specifically got into a written argument with the instructor since my call to SSI scared the hell out of him to the point that he began issuing gear renting payment proofs/receipts he didn't provide in months (and maybe planned not to ever provide, to get more income by having to declare less taxes) and threatening me of legal action for having fouled his activity name to SSI.

    However even talking to what I think is the highest authority of this organization came up to nothing since they told me they obviously have no control of every class, that said instructor has never been reported before and that diving into a touristic location wasn't that bad after all, since he was caring for my own safety.

    However after all this I guess that he'd have had squeezed out of me even more money than the friendly fools who gave into giving more money for extra dives as a fire-back for reporting him, so I quit and now I'm locked in this position since all the region-wide SSI dives have him as facebook friend and thus I wouldn't trust my money in their hands for a scuba skills update which could then easily be "take another one", "take another one" over and over.

    Again I know my limits, I'm not an expert but I should comply with OWD standards as other people in the class I was in, specially a skilled freediver who gave up for my very same reason and was ahead of many of us regarding aquatic skills, specially compared to the stereotypical weird peoples who got their certification, represented by a guy looking like a lame krill and the usual finicky chick aborting two dives in a row 'cos her brand new mask leaked the bothersome volume of a waterdrop a minute or water being too cold that with a brandnew bought drysuit on (while we all were with 5mm wetsuits, girls too).

    Hope this helps some people not to fall into the dirty trap I fell into...
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2016
  5. tstormdiver

    tstormdiver Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Kentucky
    6,171
    1,126
    113
    Once a certification has been processed, the card can basically not be taken away, even with digital processing. As is mentioned, that is the way it is with any agency. Once processed, only SSI can do anything like that, & the chances are extremely small, if ever at all. If the shop is withholding processing the certification beyond the time allowed by SSI, they are in direct violation of standards.
     
  6. tstormdiver

    tstormdiver Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Kentucky
    6,171
    1,126
    113
    Absolutely, John. I agree 100%. Have I held students back? Yes.... but when I do, it is before they are to go to their OW dives... I discuss the issues with the student (99% of the time they are in agreement of the issues), try my best to help them out during the remainder of the class, but if it can not be resolved, I will not send them forward. I do not flat out fail my students, I work with them further, if they are agreeable to it. The remedial work is always done on my (& the shop's) dime, not the student's. The only sacrifice they may have to make is to come back for another session or 2 (rarely goes beyond that).... But then, I must also drive an hour for each session. To take students all the way through & then flat out fail the entire class, either throws up a red flag that something is not Kosher about the shop's operating procedures or that there are some severe problems with the instructor's teaching techniques, both difficult to prove... In my 7 yrs of instructing, I have never failed an entire class & absolutely never taken them all the way through the course & then failed them.
     
  7. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    16,879
    8,582
    113
    With the type of class I offer it's not likely that someone could slip through but it is possible. However with a minimum of 7 (usually though it's 8 sessions) classroom and pool sessions where I actually get to know the students pretty well, I'm confident they won't pull some boned headed stunt on their checkouts. After is another story. I have no control over what they do then.

    Up until that point I am observing them very closely. This is part of why I teach the course I do through the agency I do. I can offer another and use an e learning option but to this point I have not. Even if I did it WOULD NOT reduce classroom time by one minute. I'd still spend the same amount of time making sure they knew and actually understood what the e learning covered and then add to it.

    For the pool sessions basic skills are part of every one. Then we build on them. From a simple partial mask flood to assisting a panicked diver at the surface and recovering a non responsive one from depth.

    As for withholding certs - the agency I certify OW divers through has minimum standards that need to be met. Then they expect me to have standards specific to our local conditions they need to meet. If on the last checkout dive, the student does something that gives me pause, I don't have to issue a cert. In fact I'm not allowed to. Until the time I actually submit the info a cert is not guaranteed.

    So if the student were to call me up and say "I'm going to Florida in two weeks to dive a cave a friend found and I need my card to get fills, when will it arrive?" They are going to get told it's not. The agency will back me up. It's why I teach through that agency.

    However, I don't have hidden agendas or conditions. I use a learning agreement where everything is spelled out. What is expected of the student, what they can expect from me, what they need to do to get their card. This is covered before I accept full payment from them and the class starts. This is not the first time I have heard of a groupon scam like this. That's what it is, a scam.

    To take someone that far and then say you failed unless you do xxx, is total crap. This should be exposed and the operator ID'd to protect others. It's shady business. It also would seem to scream that the students are not getting properly prepared for actual OW dives. This is not only shady but possibly deadly.

    I'm betting they also wanted you to spend a butt load of money on a "total diving system" that they recommended. Another scam. Likely gear not at all suited for the diving you'd like to do eventually because they never asked you about it. A purposeful effort to get you to drop a load of cash and then later, when you find the gear and useless accessories they made you buy with it are wrong, spend more money on another style of "total diving system".

    Primarily designed to benefit the shop's bank account.

    Not surprised you received no support from "higher up". You're not their consumer. The shop is in this case.
     
  8. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    25,635
    17,070
    113
    To again summarize my understanding of the situation:

    You (and some others) have done all the academic work for certification, all the pool work for certification, and more dives than are normally required for certification. You believe your certifications are being withheld because of a false claim that you did not meet standards so that the instructor can milk more money out of you by requiring more dives. Correct?

    If that is indeed what is happening
    (and none of us can tell for sure--and neither can SSI), then that is a very sleazy operator, and you are in a bad situation indeed. In that case, I would try to get others to contact SSI so it is not just you crying out in the wilderness. That may help. I would also use various rating services to publicize your belief.

    You might also try something else. I do not know SSI procedures, but with PADI, I have to sign a record file and the student's log book at every blessed step in the process. If that happened with you, then you would have a log book signifying that you have completed the academic portion of the class, the confined water portion of the class, and all the dives you have done. You can ask for a copy of the student record file, which also should be signed. (He may withhold it, but your log book alone is enough.) If you have those signatures, you have proof of what you have done. You can take that to another SSI instructor, explain what happened, and show the signatures. It is possible that this second instructor will be able to work with you to facilitate completion of certification. This would be a very unusual situation, but it can be done.

    SSI uses the universal referral system, so if you went to any other instructor who uses that system, you would at least not have to do the academic and pool work again.
     
  9. Digg

    Digg Angel Fish

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    Correct. You perfectly resumed what happened, minus the subtle tricks used by said instructor.

    I wish others would do like I did instead of giving in to the wrongfulness or shutting up for reasons ranging to not caring about wasted money to being shy about having been scammed, so that less people would catch in the future, but I fear for my own (monetary) safety since my report to SSI alone was enough for the instructor to threaten legal action to me for having fouled his shop's name towards the main headquarters, so not fully knowing how laws go I'm scared of losing even more money by being liable of counter-advertisement or something like that, plus some scammed people may no longer care since they paid for 15 dives and now got their damned OWD cert, or are still within his group being sold to AOW or advanced adventurer which is one of those half-steps I simply don't have a meaning for but that's obviously happily sold and suggested by said guy.

    Another clever under-the-back trick used I saw (from the released certs list) is that of releasing an OWD cert to somebody who already booked for the advanced adventurer or AOW class...which of course again ends up simply to being more money.

    I think asking for written records to switch to another instructor is called SSI referral program. I don't know exactly if it works like it should (bring all docs to another instructor, do only the missing link like repeating skills in 1 dive and if all it's ok get OWD certified) but since as previously said practically every SSI center in the region has him as friend on facebook, I fear they may comply with his will since he's a master instructor, does this for a living (not that he'd strictly need to work though since seems quite wealthy already) or to pretend to his family he's working, and may get some more cash off me just to not be like if the other instructor was wrong on not considering me ready.
     
  10. Digg

    Digg Angel Fish

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    Yeah I know, feels surreal but unfortunately it's what happened, prying the instructor judging freedom to one's own money convenience. I don't know how to expose him without getting filed some legal action by him as he already threatened (just for having reported his "perfectly honest" activity to SSI) to me by email.

    He had two local preferred gear renting/buying shops he warmly suggested and even brought a few people to them by person in off-classes days.

    I remember one guy spending something like 600 EUR (almost 700 dollars) at once just to get him and his children and wife all wetsuited, "finned", masked, belted and snorkeled up...now this wasn't mandatory since you'd rent gear or buy it somewhere else (I had stuff beforehand from my freediving years and found stuff online being cheaper), it was just an above average spending guy (owned a boat too) who did this guided by the possibly most interested person at that moment.

    Funny thing is that as far as I recall not even one of his family members got certified since one of his daughters changed her mind about taking part to the pool sessions and I guess everybody followed not to leave her in a corner.
    Do you imagine spending 700 bucks and then leaving the course on its own by yourself and maybe going to sea just to sunbathe? What a waste of money.

    Again you're right, the heads backed him up since he's a big prolific fish of prey while I am just a disappointed jellyfish.
     

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