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stranger
10-29-2007, 11:27
I'm not sure if this is the right forum for this question...


My wife just got certified and I'm looking to get a regulator/computer for her, as well as eventually fitting her completely with gear. The guys at the local dive shop are really nice and I'd like to give my business to them compared to buying somewhere online (scubatoys or elsewhere), but I'm not sure if they can, or will, work with me on their prices.

So if I go in there and ask what he can do compared to what I'm finding online (I plan on printing out and bringing the items/prices in question) and he says that he can't do anything, isn't it setting fire to a bridge if I walk out and buy it online? What about when I bring stuff in for servicing?

I understand that he has overhead other online sites/stores might not and don't necessarily need him to match the price for me to shop there. But I'm not going to pay $1200 for a regulator/computer setup I can find online for $700.

Does anyone else run into this issue? How do you handle it?

ReefHound
10-29-2007, 11:52
Try to ask around with local divers and find out if this LDS is a progressive minded business that puts customers first and feels honored to have your business, or if they are an old school relic that feels you "owe" them loyalty and they are doing you the favor.

Your concerns are well-founded as there are many of the latter still around. Some of them rate online buyers slightly below pond scum so if that's the case you might be better off not mentioning "online" at all. I think it's slowly getting better though as the marketplace kills off those who cannot or will not compete.

Puffer Fish
10-29-2007, 12:06
I'm not sure if this is the right forum for this question...


My wife just got certified and I'm looking to get a regulator/computer for her, as well as eventually fitting her completely with gear. The guys at the local dive shop are really nice and I'd like to give my business to them compared to buying somewhere online (scubatoys or elsewhere), but I'm not sure if they can, or will, work with me on their prices.

So if I go in there and ask what he can do compared to what I'm finding online (I plan on printing out and bringing the items/prices in question) and he says that he can't do anything, isn't it setting fire to a bridge if I walk out and buy it online? What about when I bring stuff in for servicing?

I understand that he has overhead other online sites/stores might not and don't necessarily need him to match the price for me to shop there. But I'm not going to pay $1200 for a regulator/computer setup I can find online for $700.

Does anyone else run into this issue? How do you handle it?


You just opened the ugly pandora's box of internet sales. Support the local shop or save money? No easy answer. Somewhat depends on the shop's attitude. I buy a lot of stuff from ST here (and others), but I also support my local LDS. However, those local shops give me a discount (not as good as Larry does (thank you Larry), but something that makes the difference reasonable.

But my local people cannot get tanks anywhere near the price I can, so they understand and still do the visual testing for me. But I get my perscription masks from them. The key is for both sides to be reasonable..

stranger
10-29-2007, 12:45
I've already given them a few bucks since we did my wife's certification through them. We also bought her a wetsuit, fins, booties, etc.

I've spoken with the owner who seems like a really nice guy. In fact, we plan on going on one of his dive trips within the next year.

I guess I'll have to go in and talk with him and see what his reaction is when I drop a few hints about what I've seen online and then make my decision based off that.

thanks guys

lovesmexico615
10-29-2007, 13:08
I might be in the minority here, but my LDS has been really great about their pricing. I mentioned that I was looking at purchasing a computer online (for the savings- thanks Larry!) and in talking mentioned the 10% forum discount. My next purchase at LDS was a wetsuit- and when I looked at my bill (guilty of having a card on file... I'd rather not know the price because I might back out of the sale) there was a 10% discount on the wetsuit- AND retro-active toward the BC I purchased there as well. They also gave me a steal on a dive knife (70% off- had been used once). Now I split my purchasing- big stuff at LDS (as long as I keep getting that 10%) and other stuff at ST when I have gift cards.

ScubaToys Larry
10-29-2007, 13:26
One thing I'd like to dispel is the "on line shops don't have overhead".

We have a 10,000 square foot building on the highway with an indoor heated pool, class rooms, etc, and are getting ready to add 7,000 square feet to the building. We teach classes every weekend, have instructors, DM's etc. Let's not even mention how much Joe embezels! :smiley29:

I guess it's a sad state of affairs when people come up with stories that their cousin bought them their gear just so a shop will service it! These shops will probably not be in business for a long period of time if they have that attitude. I'm actually a guest speaker at Dema talking about these issues.

We do service on all regs we sell - but also on any reg people bring in or send. I don't charge any more to service a reg bought from us, or the guy down the street, or the guy across the country. I don't know why others would.

I had a customer once that asked us to price out a package, and then I didn't hear from him for a few months. He called because he decided to "support his local dive shop" and bought the same gear for $400 more - and they just went out of business, and he had a problem with the reg and needed it looked at.

It's a very difficult call to make on who to spend your money with - obviously, I'd like it to be me... but I also realize that our pricing and policies have helped people leverage their local shops into getting better pricing - and in the end... if there are more happy divers out there - it's all good.

This industry has gone through some changes - and will go through more, and each business owner has to come up with what he thinks is a successful business model.

BobArnold8265
10-29-2007, 15:14
Seems to me that a LDS would have to be a bit crazy to refuse to service gear that you bought on line. That is part of the way they make their money as well. Not to mention the chance to get you in their shop and sell new gear or a travel package etc. to you.

The other thing that crosses my mind is that regardless of where you buy your equipment, if a dive shop carries that brand don't they have some obligation to service the gear since they represent the manufacture ???

BobbyWombat
10-29-2007, 15:16
One thing I'd like to dispel is the "on line shops don't have overhead".
...
each business owner has to come up with what he thinks is a successful business model.

Larry, I would understand if you choose not to answer this, but how do you guys do it? Volume of sales? Better, more efficient operation? Slave Labor???

Whatever it is, keep it up.

ScubaToys Larry
10-29-2007, 15:29
One thing I'd like to dispel is the "on line shops don't have overhead".
...
each business owner has to come up with what he thinks is a successful business model.

Larry, I would understand if you choose not to answer this, but how do you guys do it? Volume of sales? Better, more efficient operation? Slave Labor???

Whatever it is, keep it up.

Slave Labor?!! Would you like to see my pay role? :disappointed:

But the rest hit it pretty good. We've worked for years on fine tuning our system in how orders are handled, how our internal systems work together for invoicing, the web pages, etc. We also work at getting good pricing so we can pass it through without dropping the margins to zero... but if you have an efficient system, you don't have to make a ton of money off any one person if you have enough customers.

And thanks to our customers to refer a lot of their diving friends, we have a pretty large database of folks that turn to us for their gear needs, and for the gear for their wives, kids, friends, etc.

We actually lose about $10 on each order, but make it up in volume. :smiley2:

Puffer Fish
10-29-2007, 15:32
One thing I'd like to dispel is the "on line shops don't have overhead".
...
each business owner has to come up with what he thinks is a successful business model.

Larry, I would understand if you choose not to answer this, but how do you guys do it? Volume of sales? Better, more efficient operation? Slave Labor???

Whatever it is, keep it up.
I've heard that this is just a hobby for him, he makes all his money as a swimsuit model...

Actually, nothing fancy, just good business, volume to cover overhead and getting some good pricing because of it. That said, I am sure Larry has a lot of horror stories along the way (can we say scubapro?) Hopefully he will have time to answer the question himself.

awap
10-29-2007, 15:55
Seems to me that a LDS would have to be a bit crazy to refuse to service gear that you bought on line. That is part of the way they make their money as well. Not to mention the chance to get you in their shop and sell new gear or a travel package etc. to you.

The other thing that crosses my mind is that regardless of where you buy your equipment, if a dive shop carries that brand don't they have some obligation to service the gear since they represent the manufacture ???

Welcome to the crazy world of scuba retail. It is not hard to find shops that will refuse service because they don't like where gear was purchased. They seem to believe that will make diving difficult for that disloyal customer, teaching him and his buddies a lesson. And it works. Customers learn they have alternatives, they learn to save money buying and servicing online, and they learn to not provide the LDS any unnecessary information.

LDSs are independent operations and are under no obligation to provide service including warranty service for gear they may have sold. You can complain to the manufacturer who may try to apply a little pressure to the shop but don't count on anything good coming out of it other than receiving the mfgrs instructions on how to send your gear to their service center.

dludwig
10-29-2007, 16:50
The 2 LDS that I deal w/ really don't care where the item comes from. I have picked up some good deals on eBay & take them in for servicing before diving w/ them. They know they'll still get plenty of my money somewhere else.

gibson1525
10-29-2007, 17:31
I guess I'll have to go in and talk with him and see what his reaction is when I drop a few hints about what I've seen online and then make my decision based off that.

thanks guys


i wouldn't hint about anything. take a copy of what ST is charging for your setup and tell him that you would love to support his shop but you work hard for your money and can't spend $500 more for the same rig.

i'm sure this isn't the first time he's had this problem. he might not be able to offer as low of a price as ST but i bet he will understand your situation, and if he doesn't understand then it probably isn't someone that you want to be doing business with anyway.

stranger
10-29-2007, 17:39
Larry - I didn't mean to infer that all online shops have little or no overhead. From what I've read, I know you operate an actual shop instead of storing the stuff in a self-store place or even in your garage. I, and most of the other people here appreciate the great packages and discounts you provide.

Hopefully, I can be like others on the board and split my business between sites like this and my LDS.

RonFrank
10-29-2007, 17:48
I handle it the same way I handle all my shopping. I weigh the advantages and disadvantages of using a local shop vs. the price savings elsewhere. This generally means I purchase online/used/at DiversDirect on vacation, whatever.

I'd test the waters at the LDS. Don't go in there and tell them you are going to buy a complete setup with all the trimmings, and ask then to price match based on the yellow page sized file folder you need Sherpa's to haul in for your price defense. :smilie39:

Just ask if they do any local or online price matching, checkout the starting prices compared to ST's or other options, and ask if they provide package discounts if purchasing multiple things.

If they want $600 for a reg you can purchase online for $350 there is a VERY good chance they will NOT be interested in providing that type of discount. If they are just a few bucks more than online, it's a good bet they will work something out, and you will get close to the price elsewhere.

The other consideration is do they carry the brands you want? If you want Zeagle, don't let them talk you into something else because they don't carry it. That's another big advantage of Online retailers, they generally cover more that a couple lines, and often stock more sizes, colors, options, and add-ons.

Our LDS does not do price matching. I've discussed this with the retail manager, and they don't want to, and feel they don't need to. They are making a killing selling newbie's personal gear at close to double online pricing, so why lower their prices?

Service should not matter. If they service for example Zeagle, they should be willing to provide service on that manufacture at the same prices regardless of where it was purchased. If they won't, then it's up to you what you want to do, but I'd find a new LDS if for nothing else but service.

ST, and TechDivingLimited both service most major equipment manufactures, so that is always an option. Honestly, it's less hassle, and less expensive to ship my Reg's out once a year vs. making the 70 mile round trip drive to the LDS...twice. I generally get my gear serviced when I'm not planning on diving for a few weeks, so I end up making special trips to the LDS, and it's easier to just put it in the mail.

js1scuba
10-29-2007, 19:06
If you just got certified then you are what we call a new diver. And you will remain a new diver for about 100 dives. During the early part of your diving experience you will need to invest in some equipment. Expect you will spend a few thousand for a quality set of open water equipment with all the appropriate accessories.

(blind trust me on this -- ive been at it for almost 20 years)

If the store you did your training with was not sucessful in helping you get into your own gear so be it. As a new diver you need to have BOTH a quality professional dive center AND a few quality internet sources.

There are a few internet sources that can service you completely without ever walking into thier store. But that's done over the telephone and only because those few operations are set up to spend an hour or more with you.

Ideally when you chose an LDS you want one that has high quality inventory, a good deep selection, and good staff. Best to work with the owner or sales manager. As a new diver you need to have good interaction with your advisors. Diving equipment is a package of: Equipment, Selection, Service, Advice, Warranty, Loaners, etc. These things can only come from a qualiy LDS.

The next thing is that you have to expect an investment and that investment may not always have the cheapest price. There will ALWAYS be some online store that will sell X item for Y dollars less than another store. So be it.

When you look at a company like Scuba Toys you will find they have BOTH a high quality professioanl dive center AND a high quality professional internet company. (and im not blowing smoke up his butt cause this is thier board) My company mostly specializes in technical divers for our online business, but our retail store is primarily recreational. Again a company that has some depth to it (no pun) is what you need.

A quality dive center will help you get what you need at a fair price. That fair price is what you pay to also get the advise you need. It's part of your investment. If you want to get a cheap price then realize that you will NEVER get the extras that a quality LDS/Inet company can provide you. Those extras get to include, special pricing from time to time, special trips, no-charge service (some things) freebies, loaners, try-outs, etc.

I know Larry and Joe take care of thier customers exceptionally well. How do i know this ? Many of MY customers here in my town order things from them that we don't have. In many cases we refer them to ST if they are hellbent on a certain product. In the end everyone is happy.

If your base training did not teach you about equipment ownership this is the time you need to have a face to face or a phone conversation with a dive retail/inet professional who can help you out. Let them build a package for you based on what you talk to them about. Let them give you choices, and let them help you make that investment. Quality can be purchased once correctly. Junk can be purchased time and time again till you get it right.

Good luck

Puffer Fish
10-30-2007, 00:42
Well stated Joel...and as you are my source for tanks and technical stuff... I find your site just as important as ST....

kyfriedchipper
10-30-2007, 01:43
I personally don't understand the whole LDS thing v. internet - competition is competition - service is service. There are too many alternatives out there !!!

Puffer Fish
10-30-2007, 16:04
I personally don't understand the whole LDS thing v. internet - competition is competition - service is service. There are too many alternatives out there !!!
It is about trying to make money in a field that is very difficult to make a living in, and then having someone change the rules... many would like the whole thing to go back to the way it was,

ReefHound
10-30-2007, 16:44
It is about trying to make money in a field that is very difficult to make a living in, and then having someone change the rules... many would like the whole thing to go back to the way it was,

Changing the rules? The marketplace perpetually "changes the rules". That's the way it's always been and that's how it will always be. Adapt or die.

BG9879
10-30-2007, 17:13
Isn't it true though that some manufacturers do not offer the same warranty if it is purchased online? I have been told you don't get the warranty and that is why LDS are still important.

awap
10-30-2007, 17:22
Isn't it true though that some manufacturers do not offer the same warranty if it is purchased online? I have been told you don't get the warranty and that is why LDS are still important.

Not exactly. If you purchase form other than an authorized dealer, then the manufacturer may not honor his warranty. However, if you purchase from an authorized dealer then the mfgr is obligated to honor the warranty. If the authorized dealer violates any dealer agreement restriction about selling online, that is a problem between the mfgr and the dealer. Not the consumer's problem. Mfgrs may claim otherwise but those claims need not be truthful.

pnevai
10-30-2007, 17:50
One word EBAY

fireflock
10-30-2007, 19:07
Isn't it true though that some manufacturers do not offer the same warranty if it is purchased online? I have been told you don't get the warranty and that is why LDS are still important.

Not exactly. Online (or catalog) = no warranty used to the rule, but now it's probably the exception. Some people are not happy with this, so they try to perpetuate old myths.

There are some brands that do not allow any of their authorized dealers to sell products online. Many of those brands were once the strongest in the scuba industry. Now, they are fading fast (think Scubapro and Aqualung). There are a few newer premium lines (Atomic, for example) that are not part of the old guard but have some of the same policies.

A lot of the 'dive professionals' that sell gear via local shops want to paint the world as 'local = good' and 'online = bad". That simply does not reflect the landscape today. In the good 'ol days, shops could charge premium prices and try to justify it based on the idea that they were providing superior advice, service, and training. The problem is that some shops really did provide superior service, but many didn't. After a while divers started to figure that out.

At the same time, there were new ways (like the internet) for shops who were customer oriented to reach divers. This combo means that now divers have access to lower prices, greater selection, _and_ better service. It's a much tougher marketplace for retailers, and this drives some of the dinosaur shops crazy. Instead of responding with better service, prices, and selection, a large group of shops decided to respond with marketing BS. Some of it can be rooted in a grain of truth, but for the most part it does not paint an accurate picture (FUD, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear%2C_uncertainty_and_doubt) if you're from the tech world).

I can walk into a shop and usually tell within the first 5 minutes if that shop is a dinosaur who does not deserve my money or if they are a serious retailer who wants to earn my business.

For example (neither paints a 100% accurate picture, but you get the idea) -

Serious Retalier: Gypsy Divers Aquatic Center; Raleigh's Finest Family Aquatic Center (http://gypsydivers.com/Scuba/DiveGear/index.htm)

Dinosaur Shop: Going Under Dive Center Scuba Minnesota (http://www.goingunder.net/equipEXPERT.htm)

The sooner a new diver realizes what kind of shop(s) he/she has nearby, the better off that diver will be.

Rich

ReefHound
10-30-2007, 22:56
Dinosaur Shop: Going Under Dive Center Scuba Minnesota (http://www.goingunder.net/equipEXPERT.htm)



That's hilarious! I'm not sure I've seen more lies, misinformation, and baseless scare tactics on one page before. I didn't realize anyone still used the term "mail order". This shop is appropiately named.

Puffer Fish
10-31-2007, 05:24
Isn't it true though that some manufacturers do not offer the same warranty if it is purchased online? I have been told you don't get the warranty and that is why LDS are still important.

Not exactly. If you purchase form other than an authorized dealer, then the manufacturer may not honor his warranty. However, if you purchase from an authorized dealer then the mfgr is obligated to honor the warranty. If the authorized dealer violates any dealer agreement restriction about selling online, that is a problem between the mfgr and the dealer. Not the consumer's problem. Mfgrs may claim otherwise but those claims need not be truthful.

I would like to add that, in some cases, a warranty is really, really essential, in others, rather meaningless. Some scubapro computers require a factor battery replacement, you either get it free (warranty) or have to pay some ridiculous charge (over $100, I've heard).

A regulator that has lifetime parts, is usually not that big of a saving.. o-rings are fairly cheap. Ok, it is possible that something might break that is expensive, it does not happen to most, and not very often.

With a BC or BP/W, the only issue is if the bag lasts thru the warranty, after that, there is no major difference.

ScubaToys Larry
10-31-2007, 06:11
We are an authorized dealer for everything we sell, and everything comes with a full manufacturers warranty. Another issue that divers who do buy gear without a manufacturers warranty must face is recall information. Every manufacturer I know of has at one time or another issued a recall on a piece of equipment. If someone does not purchase from an authorized dealer, you do not get the warranty papers to register with the manufacturer. They do that so the serial numbers can't get tracked and their gray market supply cut off. But then that means if there is a problem with the gear - you would not be notified.

That is why we follow all the manufacturers rules and not only do we stand behind our sales - but you get full backing from the manufacturer on all items purchased from us.

fireflock
10-31-2007, 07:05
Plus, there's no real reason anymore (that I can see) for a divers to settle for a product without a warranty. In times past you could make an argument for taking a lower price in exchange for loosing warranty status. Now enough manufacturers and companies have stepped up (thanks to people like ScubaToys) so that customers can get products when they want, how they want, and from who they want - at competitive prices without giving up any kind of support.

People who say you have to choose either lower prices OR warranty support are living in the past.

Rich

awap
10-31-2007, 07:58
Plus, there's no real reason anymore (that I can see) for a divers to settle for a product without a warranty. In times past you could make an argument for taking a lower price in exchange for loosing warranty status. Now enough manufacturers and companies have stepped up (thanks to people like ScubaToys) so that customers can get products when they want, how they want, and from who they want - at competitive prices without giving up any kind of support.

People who say you have to choose either lower prices OR warranty support are living in the past.

Rich

Or they are looking for Sucbapro or Aqualung products.

Zenagirl
10-31-2007, 08:10
I have to shake my head when an LDS tries to convince a customer that buying on the internet is always done without a warranty. One LDS that I go to once in awhile (more since they've changed owners) tried for over 10 minutes to convince me that my Zeagle equipment wasn't under warranty and that they wouldn't be able to service it because I bought it from ScubaToys. I couldn't convince the guy that ScubaToys was an authorized seller and that I had gotten the information from both ST and Zeagle. I finally challenged him to go on-line to Zeagle's website (since he said ST's website would lie)...which he did and was shocked at what he saw. He then backpeddaled and said that must be "new". <sigh> Last time I stopped in there until they changed owners (and sales people!).

fireflock
10-31-2007, 08:40
Or they are looking for Sucbapro or Aqualung products.


Like I said, why settle?

In this case, why settle for a company with policies that are designed to protect the dealer and not the customer? There's no need to anymore. Other companies produce products that are on par with or better than those from SP and AL.

Rich

ReefHound
10-31-2007, 08:58
We are an authorized dealer for everything we sell, and everything comes with a full manufacturers warranty. Another issue that divers who do buy gear without a manufacturers warranty must face is recall information. Every manufacturer I know of has at one time or another issued a recall on a piece of equipment. If someone does not purchase from an authorized dealer, you do not get the warranty papers to register with the manufacturer. They do that so the serial numbers can't get tracked and their gray market supply cut off. But then that means if there is a problem with the gear - you would not be notified.

I feel your pain in having to constantly battle the misinformation about "online = no warranty" BS. And I understand your point about recalls. But these days many manufacturers post recall info on their websites and have reps active in forums that post recall info. The need for direct notice is not as great as it used to be.

The active diver who hangs out on forums like this one will likely be "in the loop" on recalls whether he "registers" or not. The diver who needs that manufacturer/dealer notice is the resort diver who doesn't participate in the "scuba community" on a daily basis.

awap
10-31-2007, 10:19
Or they are looking for Sucbapro or Aqualung products.


Like I said, why settle?

In this case, why settle for a company with policies that are designed to protect the dealer and not the customer? There's no need to anymore. Other companies produce products that are on par with or better than those from SP and AL.

Rich

I'm not disagreeing. There are a lot of very good regulators to chose from that do not have such anti-consumer restrictions.

But if the diver is looking for Scubapro or Aqualung products (perhaps for service considerations) then he either needs to work with the LDS to get around their retail price limitations or turn to grey market sources.

kenmendes
10-31-2007, 11:25
I would take the internet price with shipping and everything that it would cost you and see if your LDS can match there price (i know its hard because ST always has good deals). If they wont well it is there loss. You can continue to support your LDS in other ways like doing on trips and continuing your education with them.

mcc2318
11-26-2007, 15:59
my problem was when i went to a shop in gulfport, ms. He looked at me like I was the scum of the earth because after a wetsuit i bought from him fell apart a day after i bought it, i replaced it from the internet

in_cavediver
11-26-2007, 17:45
You know, I don't know why LDS get different treatment. I mean, you don't go to your other local stores to prevent wal mart from taking over do you?

Its a business decision. Either the local shop can offer the same product at the same price or offer some level of added value to make up the difference. If it can, then it can compete, otherwise, it doesn't deserve your sale.

I don't feel bad for going to wal-mart rather than a local shop and I don't feel bad for buying dive gear where I get the best value. Any vendor that gives me grief for my shopping habits is a 'value reduced' vendor and gets treated as such, even paying extra to spite them.

diversteve
11-26-2007, 18:42
Dinosaur Shop: Going Under Dive Center Scuba Minnesota (http://www.goingunder.net/equipEXPERT.htm)



That's hilarious! I'm not sure I've seen more lies, misinformation, and baseless scare tactics on one page before. I didn't realize anyone still used the term "mail order". This shop is appropiately named.
Evidently they've gone over to the dark side...:


Coming Soon Shopping On-Line
Scuba Minnesota - Going Under Dive Center Scuba and Snorkel Maple Grove (http://www.goingunder.net/Equipment%20Online.htm)

fireflock
11-26-2007, 20:51
I posted the same links on the "other board" and a day or so later the page I linked to was missing. The google cache is still around, for now.

Going Under Dive Center Scuba Minnesota (http://72.14.209.104/search?q=cache:HOIO2yMJfEAJ:www.goingunder.net/equipEXPERT.htm+going+under+equipment+scuba&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us&client=firefox-a)

It's interesting to see their change of heart.

Rich