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January 2012    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 27, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Scubapro Nixes its “Free Parts for Life” Program

from the January, 2012 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Johnson Outdoors, Scubapro's owner, seems to be thinking about costs far more than it does about customer service. Until now, if you forgot to have your Scubapro gear serviced on an annual basis, you could pay for the parts and get back into the lifetime-warranty program for free parts the following year. But Scubapro recently announced it will only give free parts if the regulator is serviced every year, on time, without interruption.

Scubapro spokesperson Gabriel Gilman told Undercurrent, "As long as customers provide documentation of their warranty program and service within the last 13 months, they're good to go. If you miss service, you're out of the program. The intent is to keep the 'parts for life' program viable." And, we presume, to help its local dealers stay afloat by being able to charge you labor costs for annual servicing, even if the only diving you've done in the past year is a week in the Caribbean.

Another wrinkle: this new policy only applies to regulators that were sold in 2011 or before. After January 1 of this year, you'll only be eligible for the free-parts-for-life program if you buy a full equipment package all at once. That means a primary regulator system, alternate air source, dive computer and BCD. The regulators must be Scubapro brand, while the computer and BCD can be a Subgear brand.

Even if you are a long-time customer who has lived up to the annual-servicing rules, you may still receive a bill charging you for the parts. That's what happened to reader Mike Matlosz (Port Murray, NJ). After yearly service on his two Scubapro regulators last month, he got an invoice charging $120 for parts, and a note that Scubapro had denied the free parts under the lifetime warranty. Matlosz called his dive shop, and the owner said that Scubapro had recently been migrating warranty info electronically, denying free parts to his other customers, and even himself. Matlosz protested to Scubapro, which apologized and quickly shipped the free-of-charge parts to his dive shop. Scubapro's Gilman said, "We're moving our system online to make it easier for dealers to confirm ownership of regulators, so there has been some transition of documentations and updates."

So don't throw away that receipt, or any of your paperwork, for that matter. Scubapro now requires customers to bring in original proof of purchase and your last service showing free warranty parts. "The dive shop where I first purchased my gear told me to hold onto the proof of service for warranty just in case there was ever an issue, and I'm glad I did," says Matlosz. I also have all my invoices for equipment purchased and serviced over the years."

Scubapro currently doesn't sell parts directly - - you must order them through your dive shop when it does your servicing - and this annoys many divers fed up with Scubapro's requirements. "I could have chosen regulators from another manufacturer at a lesser price but I paid a premium for Scubapro equipment because of the warranty and local service," Matlosz wrote in his letter to Scubapro. "You and I know the parts charged by the dive shop are probably marked up 10 times or more from what you buy them for."

But now that Scubapro has agreed to sell gear online, maybe it will have an equal change of heart on direct sales of parts and. Zac Kelly (Santa Rosa, CA) chose Edge and HOG regulators over Scubapro specifically for the reason that their parts are available to the end user. "If Scubapro and their local dive shops were smart, they would offer parts kits legitimately to customers. Not everybody services their own regulators but for the ones that do, at least the dive shops will make some money on the kits, and Scubapro will gain by being a company that is willing to adapt with the times and benefit from having a forward- thinking attitude."

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