The High Cost of Buying Cheap Diving Gear On-line

amazon-keyboardsA question asked on a scuba diving forum.

Beginner Advice Please

“I am a complete beginner and need to buy the kit.

Any advice on good on-line scuba diving retailers will be much appreciated.

My mate is fairly experienced, so he will be able to help me”.

 

 

Hi there

I am absolutely delighted to hear that you are thinking of buying some diving equipment. It is a researched and documented fact that if you own your own kit, you will go diving more regularly than if you haven’t got anything.

Boat fins, scuba diving fins, diving Isle of Man, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company
Two pieces of core scuba diving equipment: a pair of boat fins and a dive mask

I would certainly advocate that as a new diver you get the core kit of mask, boat fins, snorkel, boots, a shortie / basic thermal protection and a timing device.

This is your basic snorkelling equipment which will last you from now until kingdom come, provided you look after it carefully. It also means that when you start / continue learning, you have the basics which will also be fine for pool work and blue water diving.

Once you have your core kit I would suggest that you don’t go on a mad spending spree - yet.

The thing about learning to dive (or any other sport for that matter) is that you don't know, what you don't know. This is not a criticism, just a fact of life.

It is terribly easy to peruse the magazines, let your fingers do the walking on the web or post a question on the Forums. And if you are British diver you will probably end up making the decision to buy a certain brand of BCD and regulators. But is it truly the right equipment for the style of diving you are currently doing, and what you aspire to do in the future?

Anglesey ScubaFest, scuba diving in Wales, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, Jason Brown, The Underwater Marketing Company,
Attend an equipment manufacturer demo day or ScubaFest to try out new diving equpiment

To get the most out of your equipment you really need to have some in-water time and experience before you buy it. Borrow, hire, steal, beg equipment from fellow divers or your local club or dive centre and try it out. Or attend an equipment manufacturer demo day or the ScubaFests. But please pace yourself.

Try and dive ‘familiar’ diving equipment when you try out one new piece of kit to reduce the stress levels. By getting some in-water time, you will gain a mental and physical reference which enables you to start forming ideas of what equipment you want, and the route you wish to follow.

I am really glad to hear that you have an experienced mate who has taken you under his wing.

The one thing that I would say is that staff in dive centres have exposure to a large range of equipment from a number of manufacturers. They go on product days and launches, they get given the odd sample to play with, and it’s all so that they can understand the product better.

Anglesey Divers, Marting Sampson, Caroline Sampson, learn to dive in Wales, Porth Dafarch Beach, Holyhead, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, Anglesey ScubaFest
Dive Centre Owner and Chief Instructor Martin Sampson (in the orange and black suit) with his students on Porth Dafarch, Anglesey, Wales. Martin and Caroline run Anglesey Divers

Dive centre staff are out there using the kit in anger, and diving it on a very regular basis. They should ask you what kind of diving are you doing now, and what do you intend to do in the future, and will advise you accordingly as to what kind of kit will suit you. This means that you will be given good solid equipment advice by someone who is more experienced than your average amateur diver.

DSMB, delayed surface marker buoy, dive reel, scuba diving equipment, diving safety, being seen on the surface, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, diving PR, scuba social media
A well stocked dive shop offering a plethora of safety accessories

The beauty about shopping in a LDS (Local Dive Shop), is that you get to feel, touch, try on and look at the equipment for real.

If you ask for help the staff will walk you around the shop and show you the difference between a pool fin, a boat fin, a nature's wing fin, a spring strap, a traditional fin strap and a quick release strap.

Absolutely nothing can replace the opportunity of feeling, touching, smelling, lifting, finding out just how heavy something is, and trying on new up-to-date equipment. It’s almost a rite of passage for a diver to walk into a dive shop with a pocketful of cash and buy your drysuit / regulator / bcd and thoroughly delight in the frisson, thrill and excitement of that hands-on experience.

Buying on the web is just not the same thing. Pushing a button or two and waiting for a brown box to be delivered is quite pedestrian in comparison.

It should be noted it is not polite to visit a dive centre and benefit from their time, knowledge and counselling to then go and buy the product off the net for the sake of a few pounds. I have seen this happen all too often, and it is little wonder that dive centre staff sometimes end up quite jaded by this behaviour.

Fourth Element, thermacline, proteus, dry base, OceanPositive, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, Jim Standing, Paul Strike, EUROTEK Award Winners
I am not saying ‘never buy from the internet’

If you buy via the web you might get a more competitive price. This is because all you are paying for is for someone to take a piece of kit off a shelf, put it into a box and post it to you. There is rarely counselling and advice, and no cup of tea.

There is no substitute to having an experienced professional standing next to you, seeing how the kit fits and knowing how it will perform in the water.

When you buy in a LDS you gain education, information and benefit from the shop’s experience.

It is worth noting that your LDS doesn't necessarily need to be your nearest dive centre. My nearest dive centre is a is 12 minutes / 5 miles away. The one I use is 51 minutes / 28 miles away because of their great servicing, advice and gas blending. And your LDS will be ‘the one’ where you get good service, advice, mentoring and they actively go diving.

Buying on the web appears to be a great, short term gain, but you will definitely lose long term.

Now more than ever you need to support your LDS. (LDS equipment sales are one revenue source that helps to pay for rates, electricity, insurance, salaries, etc). Around the turn / start of the year I was hearing every week about yet another dive retail centre closing their doors and I know of another two dive centres that have gone down in the last 8 weeks. The blood letting continues.

Apeks, A clamp, DIN Adaptor, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, Dean Martin, Aqua Lung, scuba diving equipment
We can't buy air or gas fills online

The price you will be charged in-store is a fair one because it’s the suggested retail price. Remember diving is effectively a luxury sport where you want life support equipment that will always perform efficiently in a harsh environment. You need it to work properly and that costs real money to research, develop, test and manufacture.

By demanding cheaper equipment you will get just that. There have been comments on the Forums about cheap weight belts falling to bits, cheap clips and knives rusting up, cheap reels jamming and tangling, and I am aware of a couple of lovely masks that are sadly now just plain nasty.

These two low profile masks fitted 95% of all faces, looked great and were a sensible price. Unfortunately because the public kept on demanding cheaper masks, production was switched to another factory, and now these products are inferior and sales have dropped right off. The silicone used is horribly hard and the frames crack. By demanding cheaper kit the product has been destroyed. Everyone loses.

It is worth pointing out that I am also not saying ‘never buy from the internet’. That is just plain daft. We are very time poor these days, and when you know precisely what you need, and that it will fit you perfectly, buying on-line is a useful, timely solution. But as a new diver, or a diver upgrading key pieces of equipment, you really benefit from buying your equipment in store because of the personal hands on service you will receive. And you leave with something that properly fits you.

Cylinders, air tanks, mixed gas diving, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, Divetech, nitrox, stage cylinders, The Underwater Marketing Compay, buying cheap dive gear online, scuba diving PR, rebreather diving
Do we really want to return to 100 mile round trips to get diving cylinders filled?

Whatever your position on internet sales, if they become all that we have got left, along with some very large regional centres, then not only you, but everyone will lose out.

So if you end up spending a tad more now on kit at your local dive centre, it should mean that in the future we all won’t be doing 100 mile round trips to get cylinder fills and regulators serviced which is better for our pockets and kinder to the environment. And the great thing is that we will be well looked after by like-minded kit monster professionals who still get huge thrill out of playing with shiny toys.

Good luck with your diving, I hope this helps.

Don't Miss The Anglesey ScubaFest This Weekend

Anglesey ScubaFest, scuba diving in North Wales, Cornwall ScubaFest, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, SITA, Scuba Industry Trade Association

It is two days and counting until the UK diving event of the summer! This Friday (15th August) sees the start of the Anglesey ScubaFest.

Anglesey ScubaFest, PADI, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, British wreck diving, SITA, Scuba Industry Trade Association
British Wreck Diving © Copyright PADI - All Rights Reserved

The weekend event, now in its third year, showcases British diving, and to this end brings together like-minded divers from all agencies to enjoy some great diving, trial new equipment and techniques, tuck into some great food, listen to some live music, and just generally have a good craic over some apres-dive beers. Download the packed 2014 Anglesey Scubafest Schedule here.

For non-divers this ScubaFest is the ideal opportunity to learn all about scuba diving and meet key people from the leading diver training agencies; BSAC, PADI, SAA and SSI.

For certified divers, there is a packed schedule of diving with plenty of shore diving on offer. If you want to boat dive, there are still a handful of RHIB diving spaces left - go to the website to secure your spot.

You can also try something new. Curious about freediving? There are four Static and Dynamic Apnea Freediving clinics running morning (10am) and afternoon (2pm) on the event beach. All you need is a wetsuit and a pair of socks to take part. Everything else will be provided.

Mark Evans, Sport Diver Magazine, SBS Charters, rhib diving in Wales, rib diving in Wales, scuba diving, The Anglesey ScubaFest, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, SITA, Scuba Industry Trade Association
RHIB diving in Anglesey © Copyright Mark Evans / Sport Diver Magazine - All Rights Reserved

The same goes for sidemounting. Sidemount supremo Garry Dallas will be running Sidemount workshops and will be bringing rigged cylinders, harnesses and regs a-plenty

In between times you can refresh your rescue skills by getting up to speed with CPR!

There is plenty to keep the kids occupied with BSAC running Beachcomber and 'Beach Snapper' events on both days. And children aged 12 and under get free entry into theAnglesey Sea Zoo during this ScubaFest. Just say the two magic words at the ticket office; "Anglesey ScubaFest"!

Representatives from manufacturers including Apeks Aqua Lung, Huish Outdoors, Liquid Sports, Mares, Suunto and Weezle Diving will be on the beach at Porth Dafarch near Trearddur Bay, or Newry Beach in Holyhead (final location dependent on the weather), and will have plenty of shiny new gear for you to take for trial dives.

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a snapper, then the Northern Underwater Photography Group (NUPG) has a special category for The Anglesey ScubaFest sponsored by AP Diving. This is free and anyone can enter. Simply take images of the ScubaFest event, i.e. divers getting ready, equipment, people having fun along the shore or at the event. You can enter a maximum of 2 images by 6.30pm on Saturday evening at the Outdoor Centre.

Anglesey ScubaFest, BSAC Beachcomber, BSAC Beach Snapper, rock pooling, Elaine White, Mary Tetley, British Sub Aqua Club, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, scuba diving, PR, Great British diving, SITA, Scuba Industry Trade Association
BSAC Beachcomber at the Anglesey ScubaFest © Copyright BSAC - All Rights Reserved

There is still some space for camping at the Outdoors Centre - check out the website for details. Of course no ScubaFest would not be complete without some great entertainment. Two fabulous live bands are lined up to play on Friday and Saturday night, so come and grab a drink and dance the night away.

For more information, to book your accommodation, a band ticket or space on a RHIB dive, check out: www.theangleseyscubafest.com

The Rough Guide to Florida. Part 1 – Filling the Tank

The lengths some people will go to, to attend Rebreather Forum 3 (www.rf30.org)  The following is taken from a blog written by Sport Diver UK writer, Martin Sampson.

Got out of the airport on Sunday and picked up the hire care. First time in a left hand drive car on the wrong side of the road for over 25 years so with some trepidation I ventured onto the highway, well turnpike actually. No I’ll stick with highway because I still haven’t got a clue what turnpike means. The first task was to get some fuel. The first gas station was a matter of yards away so I pulled onto the forecourt and read the sign on the pump saying ‘please pre-pay’. I put my credit card into the slot but the pump couldn't recognise my post code. Remove card, walk into shop, and say to the girl on the counter "please can I get some fuel?”
“How much would you like” she asked. Cue confused tourist expression.

Rebreather Forum 3, RF3, Sport Diver UK, Martin Sampson, Anglesey Divers, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, Rosemary Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, Simon Mitchell, Neal Pollock, Drew Richardson, Karl Shreeves, Mark Caney, Michael Menduno, Richard Pyle, Peter Denoble, DAN, PADI, AAUS, Richard Vann, rebreather safety“I don’t know” I replied, “I want to fill up so I don’t know how much it will take”.

“Well you can leave your card, fill up and then pay” she said helpfully, oblivious to the fact that she was helping a simple process get complicated.

I walk out to the pump, lift the nozzle and waited. Nothing. After two mins I walk back into the shop. “What am I doing wrong?” I asked.

“Are you waiting for gas?” she asked still sounding delightfully helpful.

“Er... yes”.

She pressed a button on the touch screen in front of her, “Ok the pump’s on now”.

Back out to the pump and 'Hey Presto' I fill the tank up. Back to the shop again to pay.  She hands me back my card which I dutifully slide into the card reader.
“Mileage please”, she asks.

“Eh?” Looking down at the card reader the word ‘odometer’ was displayed. Why did the credit card company need to know the mileage? Was it that, by some conspiracy, that the car rental company had informed Google, who had informed Mastercard that I was on the road?

“I’ll be back in a moment”, I shot out of the shop, ran to the car and opened the door. The steering wheel had been stolen – er no, wrong bloody side. Run round to other side. Look at the odometer which is digital. The ignition needed to be on. Where are the keys? In the shop. Bugger!  Back to shop looking flustered. Grab keys, run to car, get mileage, run back. The transaction had timed out and my card was lying on the counter and another guy was now paying for fuel, coffee, muffins, and who knows what else.

“45657, 45657, 45657,” I started muttering to myself, willing myself not to forget the number. By now the bloke with the muffins thinks I'm cracked.  At last! Card in slot, mileage?.............45657........YeeeeeSS!

“Driver number”.

Driver number? What the f... is a driver number?

The girl shrugged her shoulders.

“Can you tell I’ve only just arrived in the USA?” Rough translation: “please help me out here because I haven’t got a clue what’s going on”.

“I don’t know” said the girl doing her level best to be nauseatingly helpful.

“Well I’ll just make one up shall I?”

“Ok”

“I’ll tell you what, I’ll just try my pin number”

I type in four numbers and........the transaction goes through.

Back to the car, and I sit in the drivers seat.......exhausted.

“Where’s the bloody steering wheel?”
Oh no not again.

Finally, sat in the right seat I gave the gas station a cheery wave goodbye. I didn’t actually want to do that but my right hand was flapping around trying to find the seat belt. That's on the left stupid. Meanwhile, my left leg was in spasm trying to find the clutch. Oh didn’t I say? They drive automatics out here.