Underwater Wakulla- December 7, 2017

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A Thing is Only Worth What Someone is Willing to Pay for It, Part 2 By TRAVIS KERSTING

A Thing is Only Worth What Someone is Willing to Pay for It, Part 2

Have you purchased something at a retail establishment and then tried to sell it when you no longer needed it? Used items are valued differently by different people and the resale price can vary widely even if an item is in like new condition. Let’s say you purchased a car for $30k and you put 60k miles on it in 3 years. That car should still have a long life but if you try to sell it you may only get $8k for it, even if the cosmetic condition and running conditions are both good. That is a discount of over 70% which would suggest the vehicle is 70% used up/worn out but that isn’t the case.

Many things play into the value of an item. It’s age, condition, functionality, complexity to service/repair, aesthetics, the manufacture’s reputation, etc. In SCUBA these things all apply plus a few others. For example, cylinders that have never been in salt water will drive a higher price than cylinders which were in salt water even when they are both identical inside and out. This is a perceived difference because we all know salt water promotes corrosion faster than fresh water but realistically it doesn’t always make a difference. In another example, if a person lost their life using a piece of equipment and that equipment played no role in the death it will almost always lose all of its resale value.

 So, you’ve decided you want to get into SCUBA and you are comfortable buying used equipment. How much should you pay for those items? There isn’t a straight up answer and especially not without knowing brand, age, use conditions, care, etc. As a general rule I tell people to send me photos or links to the used items they are looking at and I will happily guide them. However, I also typically say to look up the new price for that identical item and start at around a fourth of the new retail price. If the item was recently serviced, properly, then you can expect to pay a bit more. If hoses are dry rotted or it has clearly seen a lot of sun exposure, which degrades materials, then the price should be even less than a fourth of retail. Why one fourth? Numerous reasons, but partially because you will find a new item for say $100 retail but with occasional sales at 10-15% off that ($85-90). Black Friday sales can drop the price 20-40% and going out of business sales can drop it 40-60%. You may even find the item “free” as part of a bundled package of other items. Then there is the cost to service or repair the item so that it is safe to use. Servicing can cost more than buying a new item and unfortunately we see people make this mistake too often. If a new air delivery system is used for $50 but requires a full service and 3 new hoses it could end up costing $250-300 by the time you are done. For $350-370 you could own a brand new regulator which probably has a warranty and better breathing resistance.

There are some real things to avoid in used gear. Manufactures have stopped supplying parts for almost anything made more than 10 years ago. There are exceptions and Scubapro is one of the companies still supporting older equipment, in certain product categories. If a product was made by Dacor it is certainly 100% not supported and an all-around poor buying decision in any condition. Wetsuits, booties, gloves, and hoods are all considered exposure protection and typically a bad decision to buy used no matter what it looks like. Wetsuits can be washed and cleaned but only so well as they are made of a porous rubber material which is very hard to properly disinfect in a time where 1 in 4 people has an itchy/scratchy condition… The rubber in wetsuits also hardens with age and the newer suits have vastly better fit than older suits for several reasons. Cylinders, used, are almost always a good buy but it is still gambling until we look at them so it’s best to have an agreement to purchase those after they have been inspected and tested. An untested and uninspected cylinder is otherwise worth $10-25 as you can at least scrap it and recover that much if it does have a problem.

The point of all this is that the used market for scuba equipment is huge but it’s also gambling if you don’t know a lot about what you are looking at. Anything you do buy should be properly serviced before use unless it was serviced immediately prior to selling. I’m more than happy to help guide you when you have questions.