• Report: #1086358

Complaint Review: Sink or Swim Scuba

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  • Submitted: Sat, September 21, 2013
  • Updated: Sat, September 21, 2013

  • Reported By: Do not fall for Sink or Swim — Charlotte North Carolina
Sink or Swim Scuba
4310 K Wilkinson Blvd Gastonia, North Carolina USA

Sink or Swim Scuba SCAM Groupon Scam; overpriced scuba equipment Gastonia North Carolina

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Sink or Swim is a Scam. Brent Clevenger is a scam artist.

  • I paid for scuba certification and was prevented from completing the class due to his demands for fictitious payments owed.
  • The Merchant violated Groupon’s conditions by offering the deal bypassing their participation.  I found out about the Merchant through Groupon.
  • The Merchant only carries enough scuba equipment for his classes.  Meaning, he doesn’t operate a normal store.  All inventory is all marked up 2-3x compared to same products at similar stores.
  • Below, I outlined his scheme and what you'll go through if you sign up with Sink or Swim.

How we found the Merchant

My fiancée and I planned a vacation to Hawaii, and we decided it would be cool to get scuba certified before we went.  We found a Groupon for scuba certification at Sink or Swim Scuba and decided to check out the shop.  The Owner of the shop, convinced us to pay him directly instead of buying the Groupon, offering personal buoyancy lessons for a discount.  We agreed.

The Deal

The advertised package included everything required for scuba certification, which consisted of 1) class instructions 2) a pool dive and finally, 3) open water dive at a nearby lake.  These steps have to be taken in sequence, and we paid extra for buoyancy classes.  Equipment purchase was recommended from the store but not required according to his advertisement and contract.

Instructions and Pool Dive

We started off with instructions from Allan, who was absolutely fantastic.  He was funny, knowledgeable, and very helpful.  My fiancée and I made friends with him and everyone in the class, scheduling future dive trips amongst couples.   This went on for 3 evening group instructions stretched over 2-3 weeks.

Before the pool dive, the Owner scheduled 1x1 time with everyone in the class to go over equipment requirements at a time when the store wasn’t open. When we got there, he showed us his equipment and asked us what equipment we liked. There were no price tags and he kept piling equipment that we selected. I interrupted him asking for the tally, and he said not to worry about it.  When he got finished, it totaled $715 per person. 

The Trap: Marked Up Equipment + Hard Sell

The supply was limited at the shop and considerably overpriced.  Amazon scan searches for the exact same SKU’s confirmed 2-3x markups.  Masks were $120, boots were $50, fins were $100+, etc.  Having visited the other scuba shop in town, I estimate the average markup compared to other retail location to be 100%.

When I told him I would have to think this over, he said I would have to reschedule my Hawaii trip (I told him about it earlier).  He said if I didn’t pay there, he would not schedule me for the next pool dive until 1 month later, hence not being able to get certified in time.  After this strong-arm move, I agreed to buy a few pieces of equipment.  Later that afternoon, I went to the nearby shop and got everything I wanted (including premium items) for $300 from the scuba shop across town. 

Pool Dive – No problem

I was relieved to see that the Owner was not present when we showed up for the pool dive.  Allan was terrific, and we had a great time.  For the safety of the group, Allan checked our equipment which included snorkel, fins, booties, mask, weight system, dive log, dive knife, necklace, and defog.  We spent all day in the pool in depths up to 20’ with Allan and the group using the equipment we bought from the competitor. Allan and the other staff had no complaints with our equipment.

Scheduling the last step…

Before the open water dive, the Owner asked me to come in for an equipment inspection and to schedule the open water dive (AKA sales attempt #2).  I agreed and brought all my equipment.  When I showed up, he glanced at my bag displayed his competitor’s logo on, and told me he’d have to charge for rental equipment since I did not buy equipment for him.  This meant the tank, wet suit, etc. – all stuff included in the class IF you buy from him.  In fact, he said he would back-charge for the equipment I rented in the pool dive.  The total was magically $700 range each. 

I politely refused and showed him our agreement.   Without hesitation, he asked me to leave.  Then, without notice, he turned red and yelled “LEAVE” at the top of his voice.

I owe him?

The Merchant claims that since we did not buy all my equipment from the store, that we owe him for equipment rental that we used during the pool dive (gas tank and BCD).  This is a very aggressive interpretation of the statement in his contract:

“We can’t be held responsible for gear issues or delays for equipment purchased from other vendors.  You will be responsible for any additional costs that arise from lost time or makeup days for equipment not purchased with us.”

Let’s be clear.

  • The contract states that as long as the equipment is certified and up to standard, customers could bring their own equipment instead of buying his marked up equipment.
  • A Sink or Swim Scuba employee and instructor, Allan, approved our equipment at the pool dive. Our equipment never had issues or delays.  There was no lost time or makeup days.  There should be no additional charge.
  • The Owner never checked my equipment.  He only had an issue of where I purchased it.  

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 09/21/2013 04:13 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Sink-or-Swim-Scuba/Gastonia-North-Carolina-28056/Sink-or-Swim-Scuba-SCAM-Groupon-Scam-overpriced-scuba-equipment-Gastonia-North-Carolina-1086358. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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