I cannot imagine allowing my staff to engage like that with each other or with customers. Your customers just spent a LOT of money to be served, waited on and given an "experience". Just like what anyone pays for anywhere.
Posted on all of the walls were MANY more reminders about their "no refund policy" (really?) and then they had the AUDACITY to have posted that the instructors accepted tips - that is something that you could mention at the end, if exceptional service had been provided and the client felt that they had gained something of worth. Not posted on a piece of paper in front of you after you just spent a pretty penny to attend this dive session.
Next we were informed that they needed a credit card for a deposit on the equipment - they assure you that you won't be charged as long as everything is returned properly, but it is for the "amount" of $1,200 and AGAIN, NO ONE told us that this would be required. Maybe not a big deal, but it is common courtesy do disclose all of these things to your paying customers BEFORE their reservations. They act like it isn't a big deal and brush it off. No. You apologize that we weren't informed and maybe make a notation to ensure that it won't happen again in the future.
I asked the front desk where it was that I could wait while my boyfriend was diving - he chucked a thumb over his shoulder and said that there was a Hardee's up the street. A Hardee's? I just stared at him. Finally the person next to him explained that the "lounge" was across the lot and that I could go there to wait. We finished up and headed to the lockers where everyone was able to change and get in their suits. Rundown locker rooms, run down restrooms - this place is SO rundown it is INSANE. It is embarrassing. Paint chips, mismatched items everywhere, doors and hinges that don't work properly, it was so cheap. I again couldn't believe how much we had paid. I'm sorry, atmosphere is part of an experience - and they clearly don't give a hoot about that.
I entered the "lounge" and found... a hideous room, containing some old booths, tables with red plastic table cloths that were practically disintegrating, old stained chairs - it was horrible and cold. There was a small TV in the corner and then a "snack" area. These people will nickle and dime you to DEATH. Coffee? 50 cents... with a security camera. Really? For the amount people are paying there, you can't offer COMPLIMENTARY drip coffee? When you know this is where the divers will be spending the portion of the day they're not diving? I asked what people usually do for lunch and was told that sometimes people order from the pizza place nearby. For the rate they charge, I would think that they could really up the value people are receiving by simply offering some coffee and perhaps a simple boxed lunch. It is amazing what small tokes such as that can really do to a customer and make them want to return again - and feel like the business went the extra "mile" to make them happy and glad that they spent those funds.
You have to carry your own equipment about a half mile, something else no one tells you. My boyfriend was a bit surprised by that as well. If every other aspect of the customer service hadn't been so awful, that probably wouldn't have been an issue - it's just how they approach it. They act like they paid YOU to be there, not the other way around.
So I waited in the "lounge" while the group went to go do the first dive, and when my boyfriend returned, I could tell it was an off experience. I asked what happened - he said that it is very different diving there, and that he was anxious due to the fact that you're being led through a lot of "rooms" and situations where he didn't feel that if something happened, he could easily reach safety, etc. I was very surprised - this man dives with sharks, in crazy situations, and NEVER has an issue - but something about the abilities of the staff and the situation they were in made him feel like he was not TRULY set-up to succeed to the environment - or made to feel that they were diving in a secure fashion.
I asked if he wanted to continue to dive, and he actually had to sit and DEBATE for an hour if he felt safe enough to due so, since we wouldn't receive any funds back - something they had made abundantly clear. It is a shame, because perhaps he could have saved those other two, done some more research on cave diving and tips so that even if he was comfortable with the instructors, he could have completed them, but no. No one should have to feel like they might have to risk their safety just because they know they're going to lose out on a good chunk of money. We finally decided it was not a good idea, and headed out to find someone to inform that we did not plan to finish the day's dives.
When we did find someone, and informed him, he just said "that's a shame, but where is your equipment"? My boyfriend explained that it was still down in the cave for the next dive - the guy SERIOUSLY looked at us and made a sound like, "that's going to be a problem" so my boyfriend quickly assured him that he would go down to get it (because you know, we wouldn't want them to have to lift a finger to make this trip anymore enjoyable), and he ACTUALLY sighed in relief. HOW MUCH MORE UNPROFESSIONAL CAN THESE PEOPLE GET?
We gathered our things and were sent along with a let them know if we ever want to come dive again. It was truly the biggest waste of time and money I have ever experienced. It ruined my gift for my boyfriend and was absolutely MISERABLE. This place is not even "old fashioned" in a cute way - it is just RUN DOWN and AWFUL. With staff who are lazy and want to nickle and dime you to death. They include NOTHING in the experience. You are LITERALLY JUST paying to go in the water. Not for the atmosphere, the build-up, the experience, nothing. You are diving and then sitting in a run-down, dirty old room where you have to pay to have drip coffee while you wait. I can't imagine if we had to be there the two whole days.
Additionally, their gift shop is a joke - it is filled with things that I think they took from an old antique store and just selling there - old Halloween stuff and all kinds of crazy things. Old lady pottery (ducks, and stuff?) - just weird. And under the cash register they have a sign that states "We accept checks up to a maximum of $20 when accompanied by six (6) forms of ID and a $50 deposit..." they think this funny, and I don't - just another way that they are truly one of those side street mid-west tourist attractions. This is NOT first rate facility and if you are a professional diver, you'll know what a joke this is. YES, the history of the dive itself is great and neat and definitely a treasure - but the staff and management surrounding it are a joke. They treat this experience as though you pulled over on the highway to see the "World's Largest Rocking Chair" and buy a shot glass with your name on it.
After going there this weekend, I've really gone through their online reviews and was SHOCKED by how they respond to negative reviews. They actually ARGUE with, INSULT, DISPARAGE and try to BLAME the customer. WHAT? Do these people know NOTHING about "the customer is always right"? I understand some customer's are difficult or perhaps have an unfortunate experience, but I find it interesting that the negative comments fall in line with the issues I had. You know what they're responses were? In one they told someone that they went back and "viewed the security tapes" and "listened to the audio" and for those reasons know that what the person was saying is not factual. WHAT? That is what the customer EXPERIENCED. And the impression that they WALKED away with. In several they just dismiss the complaints and say that other people had a good time - or in one they even told someone to IMPROVE THEIR DIVING SKILLS before returning. You NEVER insult a client like that - in fact, the first thing Yelp says when a business is replying to a client, is that you don't argue with them or put them down. To use EXTREME caution so that your response doesn't come across as rude, and cocky and uppity. They go around ARGUING with unhappy clients and "correcting" them. These were PAYING customers with valid issues, and you can't escape negative experiences by just bashing a paying customer and explaining all the ways they were wrong.
I was even MORE upset after reading the way the handle negative responses. No grace or class whatsoever. I'm sure they'll have a great response to mine - something nice and public and telling me how I, the customer am WRONG. Well, I'm not, they are - they're the provider of the service / experience. You failed on dozens of levels to reach any common expectations. And I refuse to allow such an experience go undocumented. This place is a WASTE of your time money and effort - I am sad that I contributed towards such a poor customer service environment. You can really tell the true nature of a company by how it handles it's customers who did not have a satisfactory experience, and after reading their online responses, I can definitely see how they rank.
I am shocked that no one approached us, asked what they could do, offered for us to maybe come back and try again - followed-up with a call, e-mail, nothing. They only care about your dollar at that moment, and just focus on making sure you pay and that they keep those funds. No follow through at all.
This review, again, is MUCH more based on the service we received, atmosphere and value since we didn't even get to fully experience the dive itself - and I'm glad my boyfriend, because I don't trust the people running this - incompetence is running wild here.
DEFINITELY DO NOT RECOMMEND AT ALL. Unless you want to go jump in some water, and then sit in a dirty cold room all day waiting for the next dive.