Online shopping has opened up a whole new world in terms of being able to get your equipment from anywhere in the world. Due to reasons like currency differences, geographical locations, etc, prices can differ quite markedly around the world, even after factoring for shipping costs. However, there are things that you need to consider when making that purchase online which may turn out to be penny wise, pound foolish.
There are certain items that I would consider buying online, and this include equipment like compass and SMB, which are equipment with simple mechanisms where nothing much could go wrong. But just like how I've been shying away from buying clothes online, I would never buy a wetsuit online. The reason for that is because not only do manufacturers have different sizings, materials, fit and other differences peculiar to each brand, what may fit me might not fit you, simply because we are not of the same fit. One diver might have a taller stockier body, while another might be similarly tall but skinny. How would that work now? You might be able to live with a slightly loose wetsuit, or you might want one that makes you looks like you're the Incredible Hulk, ready to burst out of your wetsuit any minute. But you won't be able to make a choice unless you actually have it on and see yourself in the mirror. If you're concerned about getting the perfect fit, you could consider getting a custom made suit.
Masks are the same. I've seen ladies with smaller faces that I thought only a smaller mask would give a good fit, but a larger Scubapro frameless mask worked really well as well when they tried it.
The expensive items would be your regulators and your dive computer. I was recently reading the Facebook post of a local distributor of a popular brand, and it read that he was concerned about some dive operators who had been selling regulators of the brand, and telling customers that the distributor will honour the warranty should something go wrong. It was untrue. Where do these operators get these gear for so much cheaper? Well, a common practice is that the operators would get their contacts in countries where the gear is cheaper, and get them to ship it over. Some are even so brazen as to order a container load and sell them at a dive expo where the local distributor is also present, and at a much lower price than the distributor. What happens when the customer goes to the distributor with a valid warranty and gets turned away? Well, the customer might go back to the dive operator who will probably attempt to fix the problem themselves without the proper training. Think about it: the regulator is your lifeline, would you want a hack to open up your investment and mess with it? Would you trust anyone but a specialist to perform a heart surgery on you? Personal experience: after an experience with a hack, I decided to send my regulator to an authorised technician, and we were appalled to find a stack of shim cut from drink cans instead of replacing a worn out part. Look out for "refurbished" units as well, where old units are passed off as new after some cosmetic makeovers.
Well, that's my take on the matter. Equipment is expensive and it is only natural that we look elsewhere for a bargain, but do consider the after sales consideration when making the purchase, cos you may end up paying more than you've bargained for. When a deal seems too good to be true, it usually is.
Do share your take on the matter, and please feel free to share your experience by leaving your comment below. Or drop me a mail if there are any topics that you wish to read about!
Safe diving to you!