THE IMPORTANCE OF OWNING YOUR OWN DIVE EQUIPMENT AND BUYING FROM AUTHORIZED DEALERS

Scuba Diving is a wonderful sport.  Not only do you see things that most people only dream about but being in the water is one of the few environments where there are no phones, faxes or text messages.  The pure joy of dropping down and seeing a Giant Black Sea Bass or a harbor seal buzzing around you is amazing.  Giant kelp beds swaying in the water…just beautiful!  But, to keep the sport safe you should invest in yourself.

 

Why do I say to keep the sport safe?  Dive gear is a very personal thing and is very dependable.  It is your LIFE SUPPORT!  To be safe (after all we are visiting an environment where neither man nor woman was designed to go) you need gear that fits correctly and is comfortable, designed for the type of diving you will do, and you need to be trained in the proper use of the equipment.  Each piece of gear has a specific function and purpose and you need to understand the gear you are using.  You also need to keep it serviced at the recommended intervals.

 

An authorized dealer understands the products they sell.  They know the features, benefits, applications, are authorized and TRAINED to fit, assemble and service the gear.  They also provide the service of being the link between you and the manufacturer for sales, service, warranty repairs and recalls.

 

Most of us have heard the expression, “if it sounds too good to be true it probably is!”  This holds true for dive gear.  It is very easy to purchase gear online and for a “great” price.  But is it really such a good deal?  Are they an authorized dealer?  For example, many Internet sellers acquire the products they sell through gray market, or third-party channels.  They are not authorized to sell or service the products, they are not trained by the manufacturer and will probably not ship it assembled.  It might even be sold without the original parts or may have been used and returned.  For these reasons most manufacturers will not warrant products sold by unauthorized resellers, so they are selling it without a warranty enclosed or may include their own warranties that look valid by are not recognized by the manufacturer.  Additionally, you will not be notified if a particular product has a recall or an update.  How do you know if they are an authorized dealer?  Call the manufacturer directly or go to their website and check for authorized dealers.  If they are not on the list, check with the manufacturer directly and verify.

 

Here at ALOHA DIVE we strongly believe that the commitment to become a diver, and not just be certified, includes investing in yourself and purchasing dive gear.  It is a good investment and can last years of diving and travel.  It can take you to incredible places and give you memories that will last a life time while keeping you safe.  You know how it has been serviced and how it performs.  You are comfortable.  Our saying is “comfort + safety = enjoyment.”

 

At ALOHA DIVE, we sell gear from some of the worlds largest and most reputable manufacturers.  We know the products and can recommend what is best for you.

 

These are the opinions of the author and I invite any and all comments.

ARE YOU GETTING A GOOD DEAL BUYING SCUBA EQUIPMENT WITH AN ON-LINE RETAILER? MAYBE OR MAYBE NOT?

In today’s e-commence world of on line shopping, scuba equipment is no exception. The scuba equipment manufacturers have made it easy for you to roll out of bed, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and sit down in your favorite chair without getting dressed and “surf” the internet for prices on scuba equipment.

This makes is tougher for scuba “brick and mortar” retailers to lure customers into their store to purchase equipment. However, does the consumer really know what to purchase when it comes to buying scuba equipment? Maybe or maybe not!

There are many variables when it comes to on-line stores, i.e. “gray” market equipment. It may or may not be an authorized dealer. Refurbished or return items? Discontinued Items? May or may not have manufactures warranty? Just to name a few.

Let’s say the on-line store is an authorized dealer for a scuba regulator system. You order it and they ship it right to your door in boxes; now what? Who is going to assemble and test it for you? Maybe your local dive store? If they do and don’t charge you a fee, you are lucky. However, most dive stores will charge a set up and test fee. When you add up the total cost did you save money from the on-line store?

You make a few dives then your equipment has problems, now what? If you bought from an on-line store you have to send it back to them, pay for shipping and wait for them to return it to you. However, if you bought it from your local brick and mortar dive shop, they will help you fix the issue and possibly immediately. If it needs to be sent back to the manufacturer, maybe without having you pay for additional shipping or down time, isn’t that worth something? How about if the item has a recall? If you did not purchase from an authorized dealer, you might NEVER know about the recall. Again, if it is recalled, you will need an authorized dealer to send it back to the manufacturer.

I only bring this up because a customer of mine recently bought a computer from an on-line store at a friend’s recommendation. This on-line store was not an authorized dealer for this computer and it failed. He came to me with this problem; I informed him that the computer must be sent to the manufacturer from an authorized dealer in order for the warranty to be valid. Since he did not purchase this item from an authorized dealer there was nothing I could do for him as I don’t carry this brand in my store. I informed him to contact the on-line retailer he purchased it from. My customer informed me he did and there is nothing they could do for him. Unfortunately, in my opinion, he owns a very expensive paper weight.

Scuba equipment is “life support” so my question is, why would you buy life support equipment on-line just to save maybe a few dollars? If you took up sky diving, would you buy a parachute online to save a few dollars? I cannot believe how many people say no to that but still buy a regulator system on-line.

Your local “brick and mortar” dive stores are professionals when it comes to life support equipment. They dive the equipment, service it and train divers. When it comes to price, they usually match on-line prices. Trust the professionals and support your local dive store, you will be glad you did.

This is the opinion of the writer. I welcome your questions, comments or views.

Please contact me at aloha@dive-aloha.com

Until next time…dive safe.

Customer Loyalty: Does it Still Exist? Maybe or Maybe Not?

In one of my past articles I mentioned that I had a conversation with a friend of mine and we were talking about a person who walks into a dive shop to gather information about a certain product or service with NO intention whatsoever of purchasing either.

My friend’s opinion was, this type of person, or customer, IF you want to call them that, is nothing but a user and a thief.  My opinion is that maybe the word thief is strong, but they take and use without paying and is this not stealing?  That type of person uses and takes the knowledge of a professional person and steals their time.  They give nothing in return.  They take the time of the person helping them and interfere with the establishment’s ability to help a “true” customer.  When I am helping a customer my phone calls go to voicemail and I ask the next person who walks into the shop to please be patient, I will be with them as soon as I am finished.  I give the person I am helping my undivided attention…hence I cannot help a true customer while this person is stealing my time.  I am of the opinion that time is a luxury we cannot afford to waste.

Another friend of mine, who has been in business for some time, and I were discussing our thoughts on “loyalty of customers” when it comes to small business.   My friend was of the opinion that there is no more loyalty in business any longer.  I asked him why, “how do you come to that conclusion?”  His answer was, “Modern age of technology, via the internet; more customers are price driven than loyalty driven”.   I disagree.  I am of the opinion there still is some customer loyalty with small business, maybe not as much as the past, but there is still some.

I believe small business are the backbone of any industry, and the same pertains to independent dive shop stores like ALOHA DIVE.  Many small business owners, including myself, spend years developing customer relations or “loyalty.”  You do have those certain customers who you think are loyal but then you find out differently.  Let me share a brief story about such a past customer with ALOHA DIVE.  We at ALOHA DIVE are continually working on perfecting our customer service and helping all of our customers.  With that being said, I had a previous customer who wanted to buy a wetsuit.  This “customer” stated that they needed some time to save the money, but didn’t want to stop diving.  I made a decision to let this person use one of our rental wetsuits, at no charge, for a period of time, to give them the time to save the money needed to purchase the wetsuit.  After a number of months, this person came into my store to drop off the wetsuit.  I asked “Are you ready to buy the suit you have been asking me about and the one you tried on?”  The person’s answer was “NO” I bought one from another dive shop.  Needless to say I was surprised, but asked why.  The answer was “I got it cheaper.”  I asked “why didn’t you come to me first, maybe I could have matched the price” and all I got was a “dumb look.”  This person took my time & knowledge to another shop and asked them to beat my price.  Why?

 

During the time when this person was “sucking my knowledge and time” out of me they also were asking me about dive computers.  Again, I was under the impression this person was a “loyal customer”, but as I learned later they also bought a computer from another dive shop.  A mutual friend of ours asked this person, “Why did you buy this equipment at other shop when ALOHA DIVE has been so giving and loyal to you?”  This person answer was “Loyalty doesn’t pay my bills!”  When I heard that, my answer was it pays mine and letting people use equipment without paying for it does not pay my bills.  Needless to say I fired that customer and I never want to see that person in my dive shop again.

 

It seems customers of today want things “Good, Fast and Cheap” and that’s ok if that’s what you want.  However, my feelings are you can only pick two.  You cannot have all three.  I.e. if it’s Good and Fast is not Cheap. If it’s fast and cheap it’s not good.

 

Any small business depends upon customer loyalty, that’s how they survive.  When a customer is loyal to any business you will be amazed how that business owner and their employee(s) will go above and beyond for you.  If the business charges a little bit more than a competitor, maybe it’s worth it because you have their support and help when you need it and that goes along way.

ALOHA DIVE has many loyal customers and I am very blessed for that.  ALOHA DIVE understands the modern technology via the internet is here to stay and customers are looking for the best value at the best price.  However, when it comes to scuba diving where you are going into another world that could be hostile, you need a dive professional.  ALOHA DIVE will give you expert professional training and sell you the right gear in order to reduce the risk of injury.  We will ask you and evaluate your long term goals and customize a package that is right for you!  We will be there to help you and will stand behind any product you purchase from us, and if you do find something for less, give us the chance to match or beat the price.

 

Our goal at ALOHA DIVE is to establish long term customer loyalty.  We will go the extra mile to ensure you get the best value for your dollar with expert training to ensure YOUR safety!

 

Scuba Diving is a safe, fun and enjoyable sport.  The formula is simple:

 

COMFORT + SAFETY= ENJOYMENT.

 

This article represents the opinion and views of Chris Russello, the President and Director of Training with ALOHA DIVE a worldwide Instructor trainer with over 43 years of diving experience.  He welcomes your comments and opinions.  You can contact him by Email at aloha@dive-aloha.com