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Part 4 – Time to buy your used BCD…

Sweet! You are educated ad ready to shop for that used BCD. Just a few last details and you are out the door… There are a number of places to buy a used BCD safely. You can review your local and/or regional Craig’s Listings. Be sure to check the pics. Ask for more pics and close ups if you need to. Ask for details on size and diving history. Ask for paperwork on service history. And above all, meet in a public place to do the deal…safety first.

Another place folks go BCD shopping early in their search is eBay, Bonanza, Webstore, Oodle, Auctionfire, eAltBay, and the like. I have purchased a BCD on eBay. It was a DISASTER. It was advertised as like new, good working order, and all pics seemed to support those claims. I payed what seemed an appropriate price, via Paypal. When the BCD arrived I attached it to a tank and found that the safe second free flowed. I filled the bladder with air and left it to hang for 24 hrs, and it did not hold air. The next day I contacted the seller who was very nice and apologetic, swearing he dove the BCD a week before with no issues. I told him I would give him 2 choices: 1) I could send the BCD back for a 100% refund, with a report to eBay that he had sold an item very much not as described. Or, 2) I could take it to a dive shop, get it repaired, and charge him for any parts and labor beyond what would be charged for the annual servicing I would have had to get done anyway (ALWAYS GET USED LIFE SUPPORT EQUIPMENT SERVICED BEFORE YOU DIVE IT).  He agreed to option 2. Turns out the safe second was poorly cared for and NEVER serviced, damaged beyond repair. The valve on the bladder had sustained damage and needed replacement. He denied damage. Luckily, I had saved all our emails. Because he had agreed to pay  for repairs beyond servicing, then later declined to pay what he agreed to,  and because the item was not as described, eBay refunded 100% of my money and did not require that I send him back the item. But, I paid the same amount in servicing and replacement parts to make the BCD dive safe. This process took 3 months. It was a misery and very time consuming. There are plenty of honorable sellers on eBay, I am one. But, there are some frauds too, and you don’t know if your seller is a fraud until it is too late. So shop the good deal on eBay. BUT, if the price is too good to be true, it is! And, make sure you cover yourself with lots of email trails just in case the item is a bad buy. BUYER BEWARE!

There are MANY online used scuba gear sales sites, that will sell you a quality used BCD. The bigger name venues are a little more spendy, but tend to have better refund policies and customer support. They also have more overhead to support, as most are brick and mortar dive shops extending their sales online. The smaller sites will be more personable, easier to communicate with. Some used gear websites are not safe though. As you shop online, keep you antivirus programs running, avoid sites that cause a warning on your computer. You will not likely have the option of additional pics and etc. Check for references, reviews, and quality assurance certifications. Make sure the payment system is secure and has buyer protection. And, be wary of sites requiring payment via check, cashier’s check, money order, or wire transfer.

Dive shops will want to sell you new gear. If you insist on used gear they may have some rentals or student gear to sell. Most shops are very good about servicing rental and student items before resale. But, you need to be as vigilant buying from a shop as everywhere else. You just never know. And, ask for paperwork on the servicing history. I’ve been told they are required to keep servicing paperwork for 5 yrs, you can certainly get a copy.

Friends and instructors/professionals are good places to buy used gear. Don’t be any less stringent on your shopping safety rules though. And, take the gear by the dive shop before you dive it, even if you know the entire history of the gear and owner.

Look for a used scuba gear shop, or a consignment scuba gear shop, in your area.

Attend a real world auction, estate sale, garage sale, or gear swap.

And lastly, check the ads in your local newspaper. Before closing I want to make a brief comment about pricing a used BCD. New gear depreciates quite rapidly. If the gear is less than 5-7 years old, you should expect to pay between 35% and 50% of the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) for good working gear. This is NOT what you should expect to sell your own gear for incidentally, if you sell to a shop or business for resale. If the gear is 7-10 yrs old, expect to pay ~35% of MSRP of a similar item, give or take. This is the case whether you are shopping a generic brand, or one of the high end brands. The older gear becomes obsolete and no longer usable because you can’t get repair parts. If the shop can’t service it, you shouldn’t dive with it. Sometimes older will be sold “for parts”. Be sure to verify the serviceability of older gear before you buy it, and check the ad for any indication the BCD may be non-working and sold for parts.

Be sure to read parts 1-3 as well, before you start your used BCD search. Your ready! Go forth and buy your used BCD with confidence, and be proud when you score a great deal. Don’t be disheartened by your dive shop or instructor admonishment for not buying new, just get it serviced before you dive it. Remember, the dive shop makes money on selling new gear, and all things in the dive shop are gear towards funneling divers towards that end. If you have any questions please feel free to email me at blueorbsales@gmail.com.

Authored by Lisa J Henry

“Be the sea”