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Scuba Course Fees are Usually Deceptive
Greg - 2/04/2016 3:43 PM
Category: Training
Replies: 20

I see a lot of dive shops that advertise a low fee for scuba courses, only to surprise the new student with lots of hidden fees. Usually, a dive shop will list a rate of around $250 - $350 and they may say it covers the gear rental. But they do not usually include the books/materials ($50-$75), cost of air fills ($30-$40), pool/lake entrance fees ($20-$50), cost of mask/fin/snorkel ($100-$300), etc.

Wouldn’t it be better to be completely up front with potential new students? I would walk away if several hidden fees were thrown at me.

Is this just a marketing trick to get someone in the doors?
Eric_R - 2/04/2016 6:33 PM
My local shop is very clear on listing potential cost for a class but, I don’t think it really matters to me as I always ask what the out the door price will be.
BillParker - 2/04/2016 7:08 PM
I think it’s better to be up front about the total cost.
ram04769 - 2/05/2016 12:05 AM
When I got certified back in March of 2015, my dive instructor, also the owner of the company, gave me a flat bottom price which included everything but the dive site. And that I believe, was $40. Books, use of "all gear", air, etc. were all part of the initial $399.
tstormdiver - 2/05/2016 11:56 AM
Our shop is up front. We do have to divide out some of the costs, but we do inform the potential student at the beginning. Ie: classes are $395, includes class room training, instructor,digital material, pool, use of equipment in the pool, except mask, fins, snorkel & boots. We tell them mask fins,.... start at about $200, there is a $30 equipment rental fee for check-out dives & it is $25 for quarry entry. Yes, it is divided out, but students are informed of everything up front,.. not nickeled & dimed to death.
Diver_Down - 2/06/2016 2:03 PM
Looking around on the internet I’ve seen store signs advertising as low as $200 for OW. There’s either a ton of hidden fees there, or they are trying to drive the industry into the ground. Not sure which.
lerpy - 2/06/2016 4:43 PM
Around here you are looking around 350-400$ and that includes everything except the mask, fins, snorkel, and the cost of boat if going on a boat dive as part of training.
RAWalker - 2/08/2016 2:41 AM
I think calling it "Usually Deceptive" gives the wrong idea.
It is common in many industries to have a break down of cost such as in ours.
I commonly see break downs as follows:
1) Class materials & certification fees
2) Class, Pool w/rental fees
3) Check out dive w/rental fees

This allows for variations in costs for regular classes vs private or semi private class and/or check out dives.

Most sport have equipment requirements and some are more expensive than others. Just as in learning many other sports an investment in equipment may be required. This is a separate issue from the class. Personal gear (mask snorkel & fins) are not included This may be borrowed from friends (not rented) or purchased but must be suitable for SCUBA use.

Think of it:
Golf - Clubs, balls
Tennis - Racket, balls
Baseball - Glove, bat, balls
Football - Helmet, pads, ball
Many divers start as snorkelers and may have suitable equipment ( I know I did )
fpsodiver - 2/12/2016 2:34 PM
The shop I DM at tells students up front the total cost. Course with crew pack is $350. We recommend you buy at least low dive boots. The gear is free to use during the certification process. We do recommend that the student buy at least low boots because the fins are all open heel and the checkout dives are done from shore. We also inform students that we will be traveling for the check out dives and give them a flyer with the motels that are available where we do the check out dives.
DaveT - 2/13/2016 2:12 PM
I usually tell new divers to expect to spend a grand on the OW. I am upfront with all of my costs and what is included and what additional costs there might be. I do not believe in low cost instruction or hidden cost.
LadyFreedom - 2/18/2016 7:26 AM
I agree a dive shop has to be up front with the bottom line for potential students. We sell our OWD course as an all inclusive, we also list it on our web site (everything included in the class). Our students know once they pay for the course they do not have to pay for anything else. That includes boat fees for open water dives, heavier suits for colder water, etc. I would suggest that a shop also give a hand out to potential divers of questions to ask when shopping the course, cost, what’s included, extra expenses, etc.
Students are generally good knowing that they are paid in full..
1877SCUBAUSA - 7/21/2016 10:42 PM
We may have come late to the party when it came to consolidating the cost of SCUBA Certification. But with some of the comments posted hear and after speaking to many perspective students. We’ve finally turned the corner and implemented our Pay One Price program.
It goes as follows;
Phase One: SCUBA Lessons:
-You will learn the theory behind SCUBA Diving.
-In the pool you will learn how to use the necessary gear. Diving regulators, Buoyancy control devices (BCD), Dive computers, Air cylinders, Wetsuits and Weight systems.

Phase Two: Open Water Certification Dives
After your pool and academics, you’ll head out to the "Openwater," where you and your instructor will make four dives, usually over two days. On these dives you’ll get to explore the underwater world. You’ll apply the skills you learned in the pool while enjoying what the local environment has to offer.

Use of all listed equipment
SCUBA Regulator and Instruments
Buoyancy Compensator
Tanks and Weight belts

In addition for Phase 2, the Openwater Dives, use of the above plus:
Depending on the schedule chosen. All of the above is one flat rate of $498
No Other Purchase Necessary!
Divesite entrance fees and transportation not included.
1877SCUBAUSA - 7/25/2016 9:13 PM
The price includes academic materials. Either the SDI eLearning or the Digital version and diver Registration (C-Card).
They get 1 full cylinder when they pick up there dive kit for the Openwater weekend. They are responsible for fills (usually 3) that weekend. When you rent a car, you pay tolls and gas, correct? The additional fills and entrance fees go into register at the dive location. They need to pay their bills too.
Scott_R - 1/03/2017 11:40 PM
From LariatAdvance: Any so-called instructor should know its gonna take x number of required dives, they should know about how many tanks of air per student that will require, and they should know if there’s a charter boat required. If they don’t’ they have no business being in business.

My dive shop knows, we’re going to take the 6-pack out to the Aeolus, that will be a deep dive at 110 feet, (that’s gonna cost us x amount of dollars) we’re going to take the pontoon boat to the rock jetty and that will be a night dive (that’s gonna cost us x amount of dollars). We’re gonna take the pontoon boat to the rock jetty the next day and that will be a navigation dive (that’s gonna cost us x amount of dollars), and we’re going to take the 12-pack out to the Indra on the last day and that is our wreck dive at 65 feet (that’s gonna cost us x amount of dollars). If you’ve been in business more than a day, you can calculate almost to the dollar what that expenses will be and pass that along to the student as a flat rate for the course. You know what you are paying your staff. You know what it costs you to pay the captain and what it costs you to go out 22 miles with the 6-pack. You know you’re gonna need 6 tanks of air per student and you charge $5.34 cents for a tank filled with air.

It gets to be a problem when you are a business required to collect sales tax. If I were to include those things then I would have to charge you sales tax on them. The fees paid to fill your tanks would be cost of goods sold just like your book and would be marked up accordingly or I end up taking a loss on it.
If you are paying your own fees you are getting the "wholesale price". Anyone who is in business knows that anything you do has a cost—even reselling someone else’s services.

There is also something to be said about the educational value of learning what a fill costs, what a boat trip costs, and how that process works. Students who are given an all inclusive price tend to over estimate what the instructor is paid and under estimate what the other fees are.

One exception is if I can leverage group buying power. I am currently organizing a trip to St. Croix. The rooms and diving that includes 10 boat dives and unlimited air fills for all the shore diving you can handle is included in one price. I am reselling this package because I got a good deal for bringing a group and no individual could come close to the price I am offering by buying in bulk. It wouldn’t make sense to have everyone pay their own dive fees because it would cost them more. I couldn’t get a good deal on the airfare so everyone is paying that on their own—if I can’t add value for the customer, I don’t need to be involved.
ram04769 - 1/04/2017 4:13 PM
I know that with my course, my instructor gave me the price of the course with the materials. Then he also told me that there would be extra costs for equipment rentals if needed, dive site charges and possible boat charges. Of course, he couldn’t give me a final definitive cost because we could not predict water roughness, etc. Everything depended on weather, tides, dive locations, etc. So long before taking the class, all "possible additional charges" were disclosed. I knew that the cost of the course wasn’t going to be the only charge involved.
UnderwaterMartini - 3/31/2017 10:10 AM
I was givin a sheet of paper that outlined all of the costs during my "discover scuba" ($30) class. Nothing hidden.

We actually completed a bit of the dive training during the discover class. Mask clearing, reg clearing and switching, 200yd swim to put our rigs on in the water.

The big problem is most of my area dive shops are very, very cryptic about when the classes take place, how many there are, etc. etc. They list extra classes, as they train multiple classes at the same time. So it seems like you have to spend 4 times more time in training than actual. I all makes sense when I called them, but the website was a mess.

Should just call 4 days of classroom: "OW day1", "OW day2", "Intro to tech day 1", etc. That way a newb on your website can see that there are 4 "day1’s" on the calendar, then he knows it’s just the same class for other groups of students, not another one he needs to take.
UnderwaterMartini - 3/31/2017 10:11 AM
I bought the PADI book at Half Price Books for $6.

That’s how I started to see the costs of gear involved. Just listed it all out, and started googling gear.