IS GROUPON OR LIVING SOCIAL GIVING YOU THE WHOLE TRUTH ABOUT THE TOTAL COST OF A SCUBA CERTIFICATION COURSE? MAYBE OR MAYBE NOT! YOU DECIDE!

ARE GROUPON OR LIVING SOCIAL ADS GIVING YOU THE WHOLE TRUTH ABOUT THE TOTAL COST OF A SCUBA CERTIFICATION COURSE?
MAYBE OR MAYBE NOT!
YOU DECIDE!
By: Chris Russello, Worldwide Master Instructor Trainer
Certified Diver since 1972
In today’s “I want good, fast and cheap” internet market place, scuba certification courses are no exception, but what happens when you try to get “good, fast and cheap” scuba classes via Groupon or Living Social?  Are they giving you the “total amount” you pay or just a “hook” to get you to purchase it then the dive retailer hits you with additional costs.  Let’s find out.
When I first signed up for my scuba certification course, over 44 years ago, I had eight classrooms sessions (2 per week for 4 weeks), three pool sessions and 8 open water ocean dives (4 at the beach and 4 on a boat).  Back then, the equipment wasn’t as good as it is today, so we had to have more intensive training. Not everyone was fit to become a scuba diver, but those who finished turned out to be good trained divers.  Now let’s fast forward to current times. The minimum standards with most certification agencies are less time in the classroom, if any.  Why?   You guessed it, on-line training.  Also, less skill training in the pool.  Why?   You guessed it again; equipment is much better.   But I don’t agree with less open water ocean dives. Does doing 4 open water oceans dives really train a person to become a scuba diver?  This author says NO.  A Scuba Certification Agency located in Southern California though it was a good idea to increase diver certification, so they lower their minimum standards and therefore all the other agencies had to lower their minimum standards in order to compete.
Now, in the age of on-line shopping, Groupon and Living Social have emerged. You shop around the internet looking for the “best deal” to get scuba certified. You are “surfing around” looking at Groupon or Living Social and come across a “Groupon Deal for a Catalina Island Weekend Getaway”.  Does it include “total cost” of the scuba certification course or it is just a “hook” to get you to purchase it and then they “hit” you with additional costs.  My opinion, it’s a “hook”.
In advertising this “deal”, does is mention the “total cost” of the certification…NO.
There are “hidden” fees.  For instance, when you read the details, you take the Catalina Express, however is doesn’t mention there is an additional fee for 2 days parking. Is the total cost of food included for the weekend? It talks about an additional fee for equipment rental on the island.  What specific equipment are they talking about? Is there any additional equipment needed, and if so, how much?  Does this ad mention the experience of the scuba instructors? Class size?  
How long the dive shop has been in business?
Also, the ad mentions “the course is over two weekends”, one weekend is class and pool, but what happens if you cannot complete the required classroom academics or pool skills required for ocean dives within that weekend? Do you pay extra to transfer to another class or what?  
It is the opinion of this author; the merchants who post “deals” on Groupon or Living Social DO NOT disclose the TOTAL cost of your scuba certification. There are “hidden fees” but what the merchants are hoping for is that you purchase the Groupon Deal and then after you are “hooked” they tell you about all the additional hidden fees that are not included.  The merchants believe you will pay the additional fees since you have already committed to the on-line purchase.
Don’t be fooled, do your due diligence homework. Before you purchase Groupon or Living Social, call the merchant and ask what the deal includes and if there are any additional costs. Maybe the merchant has a better deal for you that fits your needs. If you don’t ask you may not know until you are “hooked” and by then it may cost you more that you had originally planned to spend!

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