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Complaints about three diving centers in Tobago.....

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Complaints about three diving centers in Tobago.....

Δημοσίευση  lkarapa Την / Το Παρ Ιαν 23, 2009 1:56 pm

If you are planning to go to Tobago to dive, there are at least three dive shops that should be avoided.

1. The World of Watersports dive shop located at the Tobago Hilton advertising under the website of http://www.worldofwatersports.com/wow/default.aspx and http://www.tobagodiveexperience.com/tde/index.aspx

Note that both of these sites refer to the same company and management. The first refers to their dive shop at the Tobago Hilton and the second refers to their dive shop at Manta Lodge near Speyside.

2. Scuba Adventure Safari under the website of http://www.divetobago.com located at Pigeon Point Road and Stonehaven Bay in Tobago.

My wife and I recently vacationed in Tobago and visited the Hilton dive shop on the evening of our first day on the island. We made arrangements to dive the next day for one day only and paid $150.00 up font in cash.

That evening and the next morning at breakfast, we spoke to several other divers at the Hilton who had horror stories about the World of Watersports. We were told that they have no boat dock for one of their boats. So you must wade into the water and crawl into the boat. We were told that they have no ladders on one of their boats. There is an opening on the side and you flop in like a beached whale. One lady from England showed us numerous bruises on her arms from "beached whale" re-entry attempts. Two other diving couples from the UK and from New Jersey told us that the divemaster was the rudest divemaster they have ever experienced. On the morning of our scheduled dive, we went to the dive shop early to discuss what we had heard with the dive master. The first thing she told us was that the dive shop wasn't open yet and to go get a cup of coffee and come back later. It was 0755. Posted open time is 0800. My wife ignored her rude, arrogant, dismissal of us and proceeded to ask her questions about the lack of a boat dock, a ladder, etc. She finally verified that this was true.

The rude divemaster did state that we would not be allowed to go on the best dive to Speyside because we would first need to go on a "skill test" dive so they could evaluate our skills. This was to take place at an undesirable dive site with seasonally limited visibility (murky water from rainy season river run-off) with nothing interesting to see if you could see. It would have been a waste of time, money and precious dive time. I can understand and applaud their desire to make sure all divers are skilled enough for the rough currents at Speyside, but they should have told us that before they took our money so we would have the opportunity to explain and document our skill level.

After hearing all of this, you can imagine that we were hesitant about diving with them. We asked for our money back, but they refused, even though they had not had to make any extra provisions to accommodate us and the dive boats were not full.

My wife has over 800 dives and is a dive instructor. I am Advanced Open Water and have 60 dives. My wife was diving before the rude divemaster was even born. We discussed with the owners, but they had this arrogant and cavalier attitude about it all. They are aware of the issues with their rude divemaster, but they dismissed it by saying she has personality issues because her ancestors were slaves on the island of Tobago. Well, none of our ancestors ever owned slaves, so she should have at least been nice to us. That is certainly the most creative excuse for horrible customer service that I've ever heard. We experienced exceptional customer service from the rest of the people on the island. I thought everyone was very friendly and helpful to us except the dive shop operators/personnel. The cab drivers, airport staff, hotel staff, etc gave us great service.

We found another dive shop that had space available for a Speyside dive the next day. They were very professional and came the hotel and filled out our paperwork for the next day dive event. (3 dives). They required 400.00 in cash advance. (At 66.00 per dive, this would qualify as the most money I have ever paid for a dive. They said they are good but not cheap) A few hours later, we rec'd an emergency call from home and had to cut short our dive vacation and return to the US immediately due to a family illness. I called and left a message at the dive shop and also emailed them explaining what had happened. This was just six hours after I gave them $400.00 in cash. When I got home, I sent another email giving them the address to mail our money to. They called us a few days later to tell us that it was their policy to not give any refunds. So, basically they stole my $400.00. I considered calling the police in Tobago or perhaps attempting to hire a local attorney, but I figured the chances for recovery were remote. Americans don't have any recourse in places like this. Of course, they know this, so they take advantage of it.

All three of these dive operations (Scuba Adventure Safari/divetobago.com, World of Watersports and Tobago Dive Experience) leverage their position to take advantage of divers visiting from other countries. Under the color of "Company Policy", they request payment in cash in advance and allow no refunds. They say that the reason that they need cash is because if you use a credit card, you will have to pay a Value Added Tax of 16%. However, I think the real reason they want cash is so you won't be able to protest the charge on your credit card bill should you wish to stop diving with them after you have discovered what terrible service you receive. All have slick websites that make them appear to be first-rate operations. The couple from England wanted to cancel after the first dive day, but had already paid for a 10 dive package up front and the dive shop would not refund any of their money. Rather than just let the dive shops take their money, they had the courage to make them at least take them on the dives, but they were not having a pleasant dive experiences at all and they were covered in bruises. They were an older couple and I really felt sorry for them. It almost seemed like the dive operators were trying to get the divers who had already paid to cancel (by creating a bad diving experience), so they could pocket the money and not have to take the boat out.

We have dived with dive shops all over the Caribbean and Hawaii. Never before have we had to pay in advance in cash. All the shops we have dived with simply imprint our credit card, run a tab and settle up when we leave.

After talking with other divers, even the best dives on Tobago are not near the caliber of other places like Roatan, Cozumel, Bonaire, Curacao, Belize, etc.. Be aware that most of the Tobago dive shops don't seem to have access to a boat dock. This means dragging your equipment from your hotel into the dive van, driving to the location where the boat is moored to a buoy (30 minute to 90 minute ride), dragging your equipment to the beach, then swimming with your equipment to boat, slinging your equipment up over the side, and then crawling over the side into the boat. Once the dive is over, you are returned to the mooring site. You have to pitch your equipment over the side, then jump out of the boat and drag your stuff to shore, then back to the van then back to your hotel. No fresh water shower, no rinse tanks, no lockers, no towels, no hangers for your wetsuits. If you take a towel with you, you'll get it wet when you swim out to the boat unless it is in a waterproof container. Forget your non-underwater cameras and dry clothes. Some of the surface intervals are held on the boat, so you get to roast in the sun while you wait. When your hotel is on the south side of the island and you dive the Speyside area, you get to take a 90 minute ride in a cramped van over bad roads to get to the dive boat.

Tobago is also a very difficult island to travel to. If you fly on American, they will only get you as far as Port of Spain, Trinidad. You will then have to get your bags, go through Immigration and Customs, exit the airport, then re-enter the airport and go to Caribbean Airlines and check in again and go through security again. Caribbean Airlines offers numerous cheap flights to Tobago each day on a twin prop high wing de Havilland Dash 8(not for the faint of heart!). You can also take a taxi to the Trinidad-Tobago Ferry and take the Super Ferry for 9.00. It runs twice a day and takes 3 ½ to 4 hours. You need to purchase your tickets in advance for the Super Ferry because they sell out often.

The bigger problem is returning home. The earliest Caribbean Air flight to Trinidad doesn't arrive in Trinidad soon enough to take the first American flight to Miami. You'll have to wait until later in the afternoon for the second AA flight to Miami. Delta has seasonal service direct to Tobago from Atlanta. Leaves on Saturday and returns on Sunday. Be aware that the rainy season is Tobago is June through December. So, if you decide to go to Tobago, January through May is the only time to go. By the way, when you leave Tobago airport, they take your water as they do in America, but unlike America there is no place to purchase water past security. I recommend taking an empty water bottle through security. You can then go to the bathroom and fill your water bottle up at the sink or the water fountain and take it with you on the plane. Arrive at the airport early on departure day. It is a madhouse of total chaos. No line structure, just hundreds of people pushing and shoving. You first have to weigh your bags on scales that must be 100 years old. If you are over, you have to empty the bags right there until they are under 50 pounds. No one is there to supply oversight, so you can simply add the excess stuff back into the bag as you drag the bag to the ticket counter and no one will say anything about it. You then have to lift your bags, one by one, up on an old cafeteria style table and someone opens your bag and they go through it. All checked luggage is searched by hand. No x ray machines at Tobago. So you can imagine how many people are there standing in line while one guy manually searches everyone's checked luggage. Leave the batteries in your flashlights, radios, DVD players, laptops, etc because they will ask you to turn them on.

In our case, we flew to Dallas, then Miami and then spent the night in Miami. The next day we flew to POS, and then waited 8 hours in Trinidad at POS for a Caribbean Airlines to Tobago (no bathroom or water past security). So it took us almost 48 hours to get there. You would think that the dive operators would want to reward the divers who go to the trouble of traveling to Tobago by making their dive experience wonderful and unforgettable.

After all of this, if you still want to dive Tobago, I would recommend that you dive with someone else beside the three I have mentioned, don't pay in cash, and only pay with a credit card after the dive operator has delivered acceptable service to you. There will be a hard-sell attempt(s) to get you to pay in cash in advance, but you are the customer who funds the dive operations, so you should be assertive and lay down the ground rules before you even start to fill out the paperwork. Be prepared to walk away if they continue to insist on advance cash payment. If they don't agree to your terms, just be happy and walk away, because that is the signal to you that there is something not right. If their true intention is to provide you with good service and a good dive experience, they should have no hesitation in allowing you to pay them when the dive is over. If their intentions are otherwise, then they will most likely insist having your money in cash up front. The argument that they are so busy that if you don't reserve early and pay in advance there won't be room for you on the dive boat may be true in Bonaire, Roatan or Cozumel, but not in Tobago. We met two other couples diving from the Hilton. The other dive shop had no one scheduled on the day we were supposed to dive. Somehow I'm not surprised that their business is so slow there. I suspect their repeat business is non-existent.

http://www.scuba-forum.com/forums/dive_travel/traveler_12.html
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lkarapa
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Απ: Complaints about three diving centers in Tobago.....

Δημοσίευση  ironman Την / Το Σαβ Ιαν 24, 2009 1:49 pm

Endiaferon, alla poios trehei mehri ekei kato gia vouties ...
An akoustei tipote gia kanena kontino kentro stin Ellada na mas to peis
Kali syneheia

ironman
good diver

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