SHARK ATTACK!     Consumer Alert!

CONSUMER INFORMATION ABOUT BUSINESS PRACTICES SPECIFIC TO THE DIVING INDUSTRY.

Pertaining to Manzanillo: Expelled PADI Dive Center still working out of Barceló Karmina Palace:

(taken from PADI Pros Quality Management Report)

Last Name Member No. City Country Date
Blue Adrenalin Adventures S-6396 Townsville QLD, Australia 3-Dec-01
Blue Diving Club S-6236 Nha Trang Thailand, Vietnam 20-Sep-2007
Caribbean Jimmy’s S-20827 Isla Colon Panama 20-Nov-06
Chico’s Dive Shop S-16971 Puerto Vallarta Jalisco Mexico 29-Apr-04
Dive College Mexico S-21007 Cancun Mexico 29-May-2008
Dive Experience S-6550 Williamston, VIC Australia 14- Sep-06
Nelson Dive Centre S-4587 Nelson New Zealand 22-Jun-01
Neptunes Dive College S-20460 Manzanillo Mexico 11-Mar-10
Swiss Fiji Divers Ltd. R-8382 Taveuni Fiji Islands 18-Aug-06
Tropical Penguins Scuba S-2349 Reno NV 29-Jul-03
Underwater Specialist S-2175 North Ft Myers FL 23-Mar-01

Here are a few ways  to check out A “Special offer,” and choose a dive shop so there are no surprises:

  • Some dive shops play a “bait and switch” game. They promise you a PADI open water certification, but they are not registered with PADI nor do they have a PADI instructor on staff. If you choose to be a PADI Open Water Diver, don’t let a fast talking salesman talk you out of it.

  • There are many “SPECIAL DEALS” going on in the diving industry. They are not necessarily illegal or unethical, just ways to make money. Ask questions of your dive professionals and learn.

  • Have you seen an ad about a full open water certification course advertised for only $100? Sometimes courses are taught at bargain basement rates, but you may be required to buy a mask, fins and snorkel before the course ends. Supposedly you get a discount, but do you really? If the fins don’t work for you, or the mask leaks, can you exchange it for another? Or do you have to buy another? Check out prices at other local dive shops. If you choose a specific diving organization, make sure that’s the certification you will get. Is your dive manual included in the class? If not, how much is it? Is your equipment included for the confined and open water sessions, or do you have to rent it? If so, how much? How large will the class be? If you need special attention, will you get it? Are the open water dives included in the price? If not, how much per dive? How and where are the dives done?
  • In foreign countries, but particularly in Mexico, people who are not qualified to teach, call themselves “instructors.” Ask to see credentials. Only a person carrying an “Instructor” credential may actually teach scuba diving. Divemasters or Advanced Divers are not trained to instruct. Don’t take a “resort course” from a person off the beach who “left their credentials at home.” In fact, you shouldn’t even risk snorkeling with them. You will never read the local Mexican newspapers that have articles about diving and snorkeling accidents.
  • This doesn’t happen much in the tropics, where most pools are outside and heated by the sun. However, if you’re learning to dive in Denver, Colorado, for example, you might find an unheated pool. Taking classes in a cold pool encourages the student to either buy an exposure suit or rent one before the class is over. Check the pool temperature and decide if you can survive without a wet suit; otherwise, that special enrollment price may not be such a great deal when you spend $350 on a new exposure suit, just so you can finish the class.
  • Don’t always believe everything you read on the internet bulletin boards. Did you know that clicking on the reply button to answer an existing e-mail can be done by anyone, and most of the time there is no way for a reader to trace where the reply is coming from? A dive shop (or anyone) can say something untrue by way of a reply, and there is no way to trace it. If one is really trying to damage someone’s reputation, you can obtain an e-mail address through any of the search engines, and send bogus e-mail to any bulletin board. The e-mail will appear authentic. Bulletin boards can be the worst carriers of lies, half-truths, and inaccurate information.
  • The same goes for web sites about diving. A webmaster can write any type of copy he wants. It doesn’t mean it’s true. Before you sign up for any kind of a certification program, ask for the name and instructor number of the person who will teach you. Then verify it with the diving organization. It is easy and can all be done on the internet.
  • Just because you are coming to Mexico and are staying at a 5-star resort does not mean the “instructor” giving a “resort course” is qualified. Most likely he is not. He is probably a “trainee.” They are hired on the pretense of becoming a “Divemaster” and have probably paid money to do so, and to recoup some of that money, they are paid a commission for signing you up for a dive. Whether they actually receive their Divemaster’s certification is in doubt. Most certainly they don’t have insurance, nor is the hotel liable because they are an independent contractor. (Besides, try suing a hotel in Mexico!) The name of the game for Mexican resorts is “Money.” And they will make it off your interest in scuba diving. The person giving classes most probably is “training” to be a divemaster. He is not one yet, and thinks because he loves the sport, he can take care of a beginner diver underwater. Not only are you putting your life at risk, going with an unqualified person, but a bad or scary experience can turn you off from this wonderful sport forever.
  • When in doubt, go to a PADI Dive Center. You can check with www.padi.com and find out if it is a legitimate operation. You can also find out through the quality assurance page if someone claiming to be an instructor has had his credentials suspended or revoked. Remember, anyone with the right color of paint can make a sign that says “PADI” (or any other organization). Ask for insurance, check credentials, and make sure you get what you pay for and be safe. There is no way PADI or any other organization can discipline someone who has no credentials and is not a member. If an accident happens, the “instructor” will most likely leave town, and start out again somewhere else. In Mexico, there is no way to hold him accountable.

Diving is a business, but unlike other businesses, your life depends on finding a reputable dive professional. There are con men in every industry.  If you buy a VCR off the truck on the corner you will probably get what you pay for. Even if it doesn’t work, you’re only out money. With scuba diving, the stakes are higher. It’s your life. Be smart. Ask questions. Diving should be fun, safe, and you should get value for your money.