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View Full Version : Did you put in a lot of thought before choosing where to get certified?



Cichlid
09-04-2007, 19:21
Most people tell you it's the instructor that makes the biggest difference in your certification experience. But how did you go about finding the right instructor? Did you hang around a couple of your LDS getting to know them before making a choice? Do you now go somewhere else or are you loyal because of your original class?

scubasamurai
09-04-2007, 19:27
simple for me, i looked in the phone book and picked the nearest dive shop by the water, had one closer but far away from water. as soon as i walk in the door, the women behind the counter was like, don';t you know how to open the door! ( the door was stuck and took me 2 minutes to get it opened) after some brief chatting i hit it off and watching how she handled the divers and how the divers who came in had some respect for her, i figure this was it. didn;t care if it was naui or padi or what ever. she knew her **** and had a very twisted sense of humor good for me!!!

jwdizney
09-04-2007, 19:27
I've got to say, the instructor made the difference on me even choosing to scuba dive! I had absolutely NO interest in scuba when i watched bubbles at my wife's OW class, but seeing the attention and detail by the training staff (avg. 1 instructor to 2 students) along with the emphasis on safety and I was impressed! this was a BIG factor in my decision to tackle my fears and pursue certification... I was comfortable in the discover scuba class, knowing I wasn't just a paycheck for these instructors..... I don't think i'd do it with any other school!....

finflippers
09-04-2007, 19:57
For mt OW I went to a few different shops and talked and talked to the instructors. I picked the one that I felt was the best fit for me. He took his time and answered all of my questions (and I had alot) and was willing to compare the cost of his course ($350.00 I think(been 11 years))to some of the others that I had found, that was alot cheaper ($99.00). Then he explained what I needed to ask the other shops to be able to really compare the price. The $99.00 course only covered the cost of the instructor.

When it came time for my AOW I was living in another state so I didn't go back to him. I was diving often and went to a few different shops on a regular basis so I had a grasp of which instructor I liked best where I was living at the time.

drdiver
09-04-2007, 19:59
No, I really didn't. It was a long time ago and there weren't any choices. It all turned out all right. People really worry too much. Just get out and dive!

skdvr
09-04-2007, 20:20
No I did not interview anyone either. I am one of those people that got certified on vacation at a resort in Jamaica. I know a lot of people give those classes a hard time because they basically hand you a c-card. Mine was pretty good. It was just me in the class and I think that I came out of it with a pretty good handle on things. As good as a OW student can. Then I came home and got hooked on Scubaboard and started learning a lot more from that. I just figured it was somethign that I always wanted to do so I did it... Had a great time and am still having a good time...

Phil

DivingsInMyBlood
09-04-2007, 20:39
not really any, i just went to the one LDS closer to me.

Illini_Fan
09-04-2007, 21:08
I went with ScubaToys based upoon the fact that one of the morning talk-show guys on the Sports Radio station had learned to dive with them -- not very in depth analysis on my part.

I didn't meet the instructor until the classroom session. In my case I got very luck and my instructor was great.

Kidder
09-04-2007, 21:13
I have been studying with independent instructors and haven't been sorry. I try to help them referals when I can.

Disneymom
09-04-2007, 21:36
I went back and forth over the phone and via email with four different dive shops/instructors before I made my decision. For me, the "all in one weekend" courses weren't the right fit, but neither was taking months to certify. I looked for a low student to instructor ratio, a strong emphasis on quality instruction, and an instructor/group of instructors I would have a good repoire with. Initially, I just wanted to get certified, but the more research I did on it, the more I wanted to become a good diver, and that is still my top priority.

creggur
09-04-2007, 21:46
My wife signed us up for OW lessons as a birthday surprise for me, so there was no research done. She just stopped in the shop that was on her way home from work one day... Got lucky though, our instructor was a retired Navy guy that does it because he loves teaching diving...He was awesome, and it was a great experience...

BeachBunnyCrissy
09-04-2007, 21:48
To be honest, i tagged along with my boyfriend while he was doing his OW and liked the people so much I actually flew back up to Denver to get certified there ( I live in Dallas)

Capt Hook
09-04-2007, 21:56
It was easy for us to choose, only 1 shop where we got certified.

Charlotte Smith
09-04-2007, 22:07
A friend said lets get certified and go diving....so he had a friend who was an instructor and he made it happen...it was that easy and we had a private class which made it even better. The Instructor and a DM were VERY good and we felt comfortable through the entire class.

Zenagirl
09-05-2007, 07:47
We decided to get certified before a vacation to Maui, and I picked the shop from websites. I compared costs, amount of time to do the course, value for money, and e-mail communication. What it boiled down to was that the shop was close to our timeshare, they answered e-mails thoroughly and quickly, they had a good price (they weren't the cheapest), and all 4 of our OW dives were from their boats (they were cheapest when you factored in the boat divign costs).

Was our way the best way to choose? Heck no....but it was pretty typical I think. Fortunately we were incredibly lucky that our instructor was FABULOUS! We still enjoy diving with him whenever we can when we're on Maui, and he's quite proud that we're so active in the sport. We went back to the same shop for AOW and had another good experience but with a different instructor. For Rescue, we went with a shop that had a better price and a IIRC instructor teaching it.

subsur
09-05-2007, 08:54
for OW certification - i put zero thoughts, just signed up at school for a decent price ($350 including absolutely everything). if i were not at school - i'd choose the cheapest agency to do OW certification. textbook material is prettymuch the same. you only learn very basic stuff in the pool. I have a friend who is a great diver so I learn from him in the water. if you don't have a friend, choose an agency with the most recommended instructor (or find a compromise between price and instructor praise, if money is an issue).

Hollywood703
09-05-2007, 09:46
Actually I knew the instructor long before i knew he was an instructor.......when the time came and was talking to some friends....they asked why I wasnt taking the class through my friend....the rest is history.......I agree you should shop around for instructors....meet in person, or watch them teach a class is the best way.

unclepooty
09-05-2007, 09:56
Once we decided to get certified, searched for shops on web. Closest one was PADI and fit our schedule. Also quizzed friends. We have been less than pleased with LDS since OW class (class was great), but have found another along with ST to take their place. We are asking more questions before AOW.

georoc01
09-05-2007, 13:27
I didn't do enough research and got lucky. When I was looking to move I had stopped in a dive shop in that area and talked to the staff and did a tour. I liked the fact that they had their own pool that I choose to use them rather than the shops closer to where I bought my house just for that reason.

greyzen
09-05-2007, 13:37
I find thinking too much often hurts your decision process.
Within hours you can easily figure out how you feel around the dive shops, etc if you do your research.

A few tips/tricks of figuring out if it's a good shop:
1) Ask us
2) Call them and ask pointed questions (How much repeat business do you get?). It might sound rude but you are rooting out possible problems right? I'm not saying be mean, I'm saying ask the hard questions.
3) Call them again (or if they have multiple shops) and ask someone else the same questions.
4) Go to the shop and just try to hang out for 30minutes or so. Chat up the retailers...
Chat them up about dive stuff, see how interested they are in the subject...how do they handle you and your money?

A few things I've noticed from places like ScubaToys and my LDS.

Scubatoys likes to chat about their experiences and use real-world examples
LDS likes to push you out the door once the purchase has been made.
Scubatoys like to offer several solutions and ask what sales people call "Discovery questions"
LDS likes to tell you which item to purchase, and then defend it to the floor. (note, when you basically tell them it ain't happening... they 180 and agree with whatever you have chosen to purchase)

unclepooty
09-05-2007, 14:31
I find thinking too much often hurts your decision process.
Within hours you can easily figure out how you feel around the dive shops, etc if you do your research.

A few tips/tricks of figuring out if it's a good shop:
1) Ask us
2) Call them and ask pointed questions (How much repeat business do you get?). It might sound rude but you are rooting out possible problems right? I'm not saying be mean, I'm saying ask the hard questions.
3) Call them again (or if they have multiple shops) and ask someone else the same questions.
4) Go to the shop and just try to hang out for 30minutes or so. Chat up the retailers...
Chat them up about dive stuff, see how interested they are in the subject...how do they handle you and your money?

A few things I've noticed from places like ScubaToys and my LDS.

Scubatoys likes to chat about their experiences and use real-world examples
LDS likes to push you out the door once the purchase has been made.
Scubatoys like to offer several solutions and ask what sales people call "Discovery questions"
LDS likes to tell you which item to purchase, and then defend it to the floor. (note, when you basically tell them it ain't happening... they 180 and agree with whatever you have chosen to purchase)

Good advice. The problem I had was I had no idea what to even ask. Like most things I wish I new then what I know now. This forum has been a great source of info.

Charles R
09-05-2007, 14:47
Regretfully No I did not put much thought in it for myself. I did however put alot of time and interviewed many instructors before deciding on a shop and instucter for my 10yo son!

ScubaJenn81
09-05-2007, 14:51
I called around some places, looked at the prices and what you got. Then once I narrowed it down to the places I could afford, I spoke to some other people about the schools and ended up with some decent instructors. (I think that is)

gtjason2000
09-05-2007, 14:54
Didn't put much thought for my ow, my parents picked it out, and for my advanced certifications I have gone to the shop my wife picked for her ow.

No Misses
09-05-2007, 15:01
I got lucky. I just walked into the LDS, that I passed every night on my way home from work. As it turned out I had a great instuctor for my OW. Unfortunately he moved to TX shortly after completion of my AOW. I have had both good and bad experiences since then.

P.S. if you're out there...Thanks Timo ;-)

Xspect
09-06-2007, 17:16
I went to where the dive shop goes. It was an awful place. I since found out there are better locations closer but I think its a money thing with that shop

thor
09-06-2007, 18:55
My wife and I were the winning bid at my daughter's school auction, for an OW cert coarse. Our instructor, while very knowledgeable and one heck of a diver, has trouble teaching..well,..people. Quite frankly two people quit during our pool sessions. Sounds like the BUD/S course for Navy SEALs. I got lucky with my AOW instructor. I picked the right date. Great instructor. Now I will probably take rescue, or whatever with this same instructor

quarkuud
09-08-2007, 18:58
I picked my OW course based on who fit my schedule. It worked out OK, though. Unfortunately, I didn't do my checkout dives with them because I moved before I had time. I had no choice on where to do the checkout dives because there is only one PADI shop within two hours of where I live. They're nice people, and I dive with them now, but the checkout dives were an absolute joke. Of the eight people in my OW class, I believe only two of us are still diving, and the class was only about eight months ago!

Also, apparently they didn't make the requirement for a medical before diving clear enough, and two people didn't have theres. One had had it done, but left the paper at home and just missed the first dive, but the other drove all the way down and was unable to dive at all. It made me leery of how the shop is run, though I haven't had a problem with them at all.

russp
09-10-2007, 08:49
I checked out the few dive shops that were in my area on the internet; comparing prices, schedules, etc. They were all pretty much the same so then I dropped in at each one and went with the one that seemed to have the staff most interested in and knowledgable about diving which turned out to be Scuba Toys. I didn't have the opportunity to meet any instructors before hand but feel both Dave Blasingame who handled the pool and lake and Tim Smith who was just at the lake were great. They presented what we needed to know yet kept it upbeat and enjoyable, some other classes I've had a chance to observe since seemed more dry and less fun. On future courses I hope to take (advanced and rescue), I'll see if they are teaching them.

plot
09-11-2007, 17:12
buddy that got me into it is a DM, he told me where to go and which instructors to avoid. i pretty much blindly followed his advice.

wxboy911
09-11-2007, 19:04
I decided to take OW when my Brother told me he and his family were going to do it. They had taken a snokeling course from the same instructor the year before and had chose him based on how well the snorkeling course went. I will be taking my future courses from the same instructor-highly recommended.

CompuDude
09-11-2007, 19:27
It was 1987. I was 16, and on vacation with my parents. There was one shop close to our condo. Dad asked me if I wanted to get certified, I did, we drove to that shop and signed up.

If I had known what I know now, I would have done things differently, but thankfully, I was certified with an instructor who was still teaching fairly old-school (even for the time), and was not ok with all the then-recent changes PADI had made to their curriculum. He taught me the full course over the course of a full week (8+ hours per day), and I'm grateful to this day.

If I had to do it from scratch today, I would choose the YMCA cert program in a heartbeat, and then move towards NAUI MSD as my experience progressed.

Splitlip
09-11-2007, 19:51
Did you put in a lot of thought before choosing where to get certified?

Nah.
When I got certified there were two operations in Palm Beach County. There was Norine Rouse and Frank "the shark killer" Hammet. Norine was an environmentalist and Frank was, well..If you were a teenage boy, who would you go with. Frank of course.

In fairness to both, they were pioneers (do a couple googles) who did great thinks for the sport. Norine passed recently and Frank was interviewed not too long ago by Spearfishing Magazine.

Frank is credited with inventing "Palm Beach Diving". That is a surface support vessel following a float pulled by divers during a drift.
Norine did not believe in spear fishing and would not allow a diver on her boat with a speargun, no matter the circumstances.

bfmorgan
11-22-2010, 19:35
I will take my certification class starting in January. I spent a couple of months talking with divers, visiting the local dive shops, and talking with instructors to make sure they were well qualified and knowledgeable. I did find less expensive courses, but this course is well respected, and the LDS has been in business for 30 years.

Splitlip
11-22-2010, 19:37
:smilie40:

TJDiver
11-22-2010, 20:09
Hey Split...pass the popcorn...I just love the old classics. :smiley36:

scubastud
11-22-2010, 20:13
Back in '76 me and my brother just looked up a dive place, (NASDS) in Michigan. They were OK. We kinda lucked out.
I was away from diving for many years, got back in to it three years ago, I found a shop relativly close that was able to get me in before I went on vacation. I got recertified, but not impressed with the operation. I don't go there. My LDS now is al the way in Tempe,(about an hour away from home) but in my opinion the best place in Arizona.

navyhmc
11-22-2010, 20:39
Save some of the buttered stuff for me!!!!

CajnRedneck
11-22-2010, 20:41
We have 3 dive shops in Albuquerque, Went into the first shop, stood around for about 15 minutes and noone in the shop ever talked to me, they stood quietly behind the counter and talked amongst themselves. I left that shop. Have never been back. The second shop in town I went to, had big price tags on everything. Fins=100.00, Masks=50.00-100.00, etc etc. I went up to the counter to talk to someone, they told me to hold on and went to help someone else, when the came back to the counter they answered the telephone and when they got off the phone they went to the back of the store. I left and I have never gone back. Went into the third shop here in town. Walked through the door and the first thing I saw was a welcome desk with the owner of the shop sitting behind it. He said, how can I help you today. Told him I was interested in scuba but I dont know anything about it. Long story short, Bert was very helpful and what he could not help me with he had other staff there to help me. Got my OW cert and intend to do more. Everytime I go in to get tanks etc. a discount always applies. Got my whole initial package to include computer for around $1,000.00. I am pleased.

DivingCRNA
11-22-2010, 21:13
I blindly took a crappy class at the Community College for PE credit in college. I have overcome that TERRIBLE training.

Vercingetorix
11-23-2010, 05:54
I had just returned from a Disney cruise where I went snorkeling for hours and enjoyed it. I fel that if I could snorkel, I go learn SCUBA. In each of the following stores, I made it plain I had never done scuba and I may want to learn

Store 1: Tried to sell me a used LadyHawke BCD and reg set for about $1500. Please note: I am a Guy, and this clown wants to sell me a lady's BCD? For $1500, and I haven't even tried SCUBA yet?

Store 2: Suggests that I do a Discover Scuba for $35. I register for this.

Store 3: I go on a Sunday. The big guy behind the desk asks if he can help me. I explain my inexperience, and he spends the next one-and-a-half hours taking me through the store, answering my questions, and describing what various pieces of gear are and how they work. At the end, he concludes that he's not going to sell me anything, because I don't know enough. He even gives me a bottle of mask defogger, because "I know you'll be back". He offered the Discover Scuba for free, but I'd already paid Shop #2.

So, I stuck with LDS Shop #3, which is ScubaToys. The big guy's name was Joe, and he ran the place. You'll note, I went to the store on Sunday; ScubaToys is NOT OPEN on Sunday. Joe was busy with management tasks. He could have told me to come back on another date. Instead, he took the time to welcome a newcomer for over an hour, and knew he would make a dime from it that day.

I got my training (OW, AOW, Rescue) and most gear from ST because of Joe.

jans
11-23-2010, 09:00
On my first ever cruise, we stopped in Cozumel where I signed up for a snorkeling trip. Damn near drowned myself trying to freedive, I just couldnt get deep enough to see what I wanted to see. The day we returned, I went to the closest dive shop and signed up for OW and a Cozumel group trip that left 2 days after I finished my check out dives. The trip was 4 days, I extended to 7. I came back ready to purchase gear and was not impressed with the selection the small shop had to offer so I started looking around and discovered ST. They were very helpful, pretty much telling me exactly what gear would be best for the kind of diving I expected to be doing. I have since gotten my AOW, Nitrox and Rescue cert. from instructors at ST.

scubadiver888
11-23-2010, 10:30
:smilie40: hmm, this popcorn is stale. :smiley2:

Tom H
11-23-2010, 11:29
No thought at all. Was taking a walk while the RV was being repaired and walked into the shop. Turns out it's basically the only shop in all of Nova Scotia.

Vercingetorix
11-23-2010, 12:21
:smilie40: hmm, this popcorn is stale. :smiley2:

Well, let's spice it up a little.

PADI or NAUI ...which is the better program?

I'll start: NAUI is superior, by far.

jans
11-23-2010, 12:50
:smilie40: Hmm, this popcorn is stale. :smiley2:

aadd ????

scubadiver888
11-23-2010, 21:59
No thought at all. Was taking a walk while the RV was being repaired and walked into the shop. Turns out it's basically the only shop in all of Nova Scotia.

You got certified at Sporting-Mountain (http://www.sporting-mountain.com/)?

scubastud
11-24-2010, 05:23
NASDS rules!

comet24
11-24-2010, 06:01
I first got certified back in college and at the time didn't even realize there where different agencies at the time.

Year latter when I did my AOW-DM I used a shop close to my office that I liked. Didn't really go looking then either, the shop was close by and the few times I had been in there everyone was friendly and helpful.

When I took the plunge into deco and tec. diving I did my homework and found a instructor that had thousands of dives doing the diving I wanted to do. I think most new divers really are not the educated on the sport when they start. This really isn't to different from any new activity one starts.

I volenter as a DM with a local shop and from talking to those student just getting certified the big reason for choosing one shop over another is more often then not scheduling. Finding a shop that has a class schedule that fits there needs.

bigman241
11-24-2010, 13:41
I talked with a few, changed around a few mainly since we changed our trip a few times. Ended up picking one in ft lauderdale based on where it was. Not a bad mistake, but I could have found a better shop, so far our lds has been good with a few little issues.

I think the shop or most shops in places like florida try to hurry through with the get R done mind set since most are tourist on short trips, locally they seemed to concentrate more on the info, but still a little bit of the get R done, mainly because they drive 1 to 2 hours to a dive spot

plot
11-25-2010, 21:40
buddy of mine was a divecon, he got me into scuba and directed me to the good instructors.

bigman241
11-26-2010, 12:43
I picked one of the padi site, based on the location to the hotel, the beach, and traffic, not a bad shop but I am sure I could have done better, I looked alittle more when I choose my AOW shop, in fact I had opted not to use them for my Ow due to some bad feeling I got,b ut after doing my OW I talked with the owner and they have been great, besides alittle schedule conflict