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Well, it seems two of the guys in the Birmingham area have got it together to open a dive shop.

Mark was one of the first people in the UK to do trimix by the sounds of things, and used to run Aquasport out of his house in Moseley. They had more Js than I've seen outside of a BOC depot, and there's quite a few BOC depots that they outnumbered. Now they've got a big old shop to put them all in too!

Vinnie used to be based at Dive Inn in Kings Norton, who have now closed down by the sounds of things, and is the PADI CD on site.

These are the two guys it seems running the show, and they're both more than experienced enough to do a decent job of things.

So in strolls Digger. A more difficult customer you couldn't hope to meet. I always expect any shop or service I deal with to be better than I could do it. Because I'm like that. Everything yesterday, at less money. Plus I'm arrogant enough to believe that I could run most businesses better than they currently do. That said, in the dive industry it's often not hard to see where improvements could be made. Same with call centres. but this time it was a bit different...

I bring in a fair few cylinders. Like almost all of them. For trimix fills. No problem says Mark, when do you want them? Now says me. No problem. Could take a few minutes though. So I stroll around the shop. It's a nice shop. Sells a lot of stuff I might need on a Friday afternoon. One problem says Mark. Worried look on Digger's face. We can only do up to 190 bar of O2, we had a delivery not turn up. Less worried look on Digger's face. 190 bar? That's as good as most dive shops ever get to! Mark apologises as he normally does 230 easily. I know this, but it seems a little strange that someone would apologise for something that's far better than most of the competition ever manages. Plus 190 bar is plenty for me. Most of my tanks are only 210 anyway :)

After being given cups of tea I'm chatting away with the guys to see how they've ended up running the place together etc. and it seems like a good idea. There aren't many places in Birmingham worth dealing with if I'm honest, and very few of those have O2 and Helium, and very few offer a full range of courses.

While I was there a couple of customers came in who'd done a course abroad and wanted advice on getting dive gear and getting into diving in the UK. They were told that first off, don't buy anything. They would rent them the gear they needed, do a drysuit course or come diving, see how you like it, make sure it's what you want to do. Then if you're looking at diving some more then it's time to think about buying equipment, but that advice depends on where you want to dive and the sort of diving you want to do. Christ, it sounds like they're actually going to give out some decent advice so they don't make a sale! Am I still in a dive shop? This isn't how it's done! You're supposed to fleece them for a couple of grand each selling a load of gear they'll never use! Ho hum. I suppose they'll come back and spend more in the long term.

They have a service centre. Like a separate service centre in the front of the shop, and some posh machines that look a fair bit posher than most of the grubby corners I've seen techs working in around a lot of other centres. Which is nice. I trust the guys knowing their background, so if you need servicing done that might be a good option.

So, other than that I'm pretty much as impressed as I think I get with dive shops. This place is very good. And no-one made any assumptions about me, or what I'm up to, or tried to sell me anything really. It felt like I was free to ask about gear (which I did) without feeling the need to make it clear I wasn't going to buy anything in the next month.

Oh, and the gas bill:
AL80 18/45
AL60 100%
AL60 30%
3l 100%
3l 15/60
1.5l Air
Total £60.

I was impressed again. They must know as well as I do there's little or nowhere worth dealing with to get helium in Birmingham, and they're in a sellers market. Yet their prices are very reasonable. It's not worth having Js in the garage when these guys are around.

So there we go. I like ranting about how crap places are, and for once I wanted to rant about how good somewhere is. Oh, and the leather sofas in the reception are very comfortable too.

Digs.
 

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Dive without politics
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I can second that, i did some courses with him, Mark, and he has a very easy teaching style. His old man Tony is some kid too, BSAC NI number 3 I think it was.

Feck digger and me agree on something.....
 
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