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February 2004 Vol. 30, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Thumbs Down in Placencia

from the February, 2004 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Thumbs Down in PlacenciaIn the January issue, we noted that Belize had created a whale shark sanctuary, and Sea Horse Dive of Placencia was one operator going there. However, Roger Christopher (Beaumont, TX) told us about their cancellation policy.

Christopher wrote: "Disregard for safety and poorly maintained and incorrectly installed equipment led to one diver being injured and one diver being thrown overboard in rough seas. To add insult to injury (no pun intended), the injured diver was forced to pay for the dive he missed the next day, though he was under a physician's order not to dive! Mr. Young and his Sea Horse Dive Shop have a unique policy of a 15 percent service charge even if the dives can't be made due to mechanical or weather issues! This is amazing! In my 30+ years of diving I have never heard of this type of customer abuse."

So we contacted owner Brian Young, who confirmed the policy. By e-mail, Young said he doesn't charge if there is a boat malfunction, but "if at any day, which is a day by day basis, a trip has to be canceled because of weather conditions, there is a charge since we have no control over nature. Time and cost in preparing a trip is covered in the charge. ... We have a few situations, although it is not common, where we go 26 miles to the whale shark dive and can't do it because of rough conditions; the charge is 50 percent, although we try and do other dives if possible."

Young says that they state all charges clearly on the form divers have to fill out before coming, and yes indeed the form says, "Any reservations canceled after 31 days are subject to 15 percent service charge (apparently he applied that to the injured diver) except for whale shark bookings - 50 percent service charge. ... Any tours that have to be canceled due to weather conditions are subject to a 50 percent charge."

A mighty rip-off, for sure. Thumbs down, Brian.

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