Did I get Screwed by Diveshop Hydro, who never inspected the tank?

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SlugMug

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I just had a phone conversation with a guy whose been in the industry for 35 years, owns a compressor, does VIPs, etc. I'm just buying 3 tanks from him, but decided to mention my story. He said I definitely got screwed, and recommended I get in contact with someone he knows from PCI / PSI (I think it's an org related to Hydro and VIPs), and this guy would have a field-day with the scuba-shop.

This isn't a big enough loss for me to go to court over, since it was a $40 tank, and I don't think I have pictures of the tank, or get a copy of the document. (I was in a rush, but I'm mad at myself for having not gotten a copy of the document and taking the tank home, condemned or not) That said, I don't mind reporting it to someone else who wants to do something with my story, assuming what they did was improper.

I'm also extremely warry of the idea of taking other/better tanks to them for Hydro/VIP/etc. I have a two other tanks from 1988 which I hydro'd about 1-year ago and they passed just fine, and it seems this dive-shop might have just condemned them based on the date-stamp alone.
 

VikingDives

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Unless the tank is subject to some bulletin, there's no reason that the tank can't be hydro'ed or inspected.

The way I was trained as a visual inspector, if the tank fails visual, it should be rendered inoperable (I believe this is DOT regulation, but don't quote me).

What I'd have done if you brought it to me it looked for relevant literature on the tank, then if it was still passable (most likely) I'd have performed a visual. Assuming it passed that, I'd have had it hydro'ed, and then performed another visual when I got it back before putting a sticker on it.

There's a lot of common misperceptions on old tanks, and they seem more trouble than they are worth. Personally, I wouldn't use any 6351s or fill them, regardless of their hydro. Compressed air isn't anything to play with.
 

grf88

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The way I was trained as a visual inspector, if the tank fails visual, it should be rendered inoperable (I believe this is DOT regulation, but don't quote me).
Only a licensed hydro facility can condemn a tank and strike out the markings. Someone conducting a VIP can only condemn a tank with the owner's permission. If the hydro facility determines the tank unsafe to be hydro tested due to such things as visible cracks or damaged threads I believe it can also be condemned even without the hydro and without the owner's permission.
 

grf88

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The way I was trained as a visual inspector, if the tank fails visual, it should be rendered inoperable (I believe this is DOT regulation, but don't quote me).
I should of added that the only visual inspection mandated by DOT is the one conducted by the hydro facility at the time of hydro. Yearly VIP's are just a made up requirement by the scuba industry.
 
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SlugMug

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Only a licensed hydro facility can condemn a tank and strike out the markings. Someone conducting a VIP can only condemn a tank with the owner's permission. If the hydro facility determines the tank unsafe to be hydro tested due to such things as visible cracks or damaged threads I believe it can also be condemned even without the hydro and without the owner's permission.

I should of added that the only visual inspection mandated by DOT is the one conducted by the hydro facility at the time of hydro. Yearly VIP's are just a made up requirement by the scuba industry.
Based on everyone's comments, here's my read: The dive shop had zero authority to (a) condemn the tank, (b) refuse to allow me to pick it up, or (c) demand I sign literally anything.
  • (a) They weren't a hydro-facility, therefore, cannot condemn tanks without customer permission.
  • (b) My property is my property, and without a contract, denying someone of their property is theft.
  • (c) Refusing business without a contract is fine/normal. However, you cannot say "we won't return your property, unless you sign a contract."
So, the whole "we won't return your tank without a signature" was completely flagrantly unlawful, improper, and not-normal. However if a customer doesn't want to sign, they then use trickery, coercion, and bullying to demand a signature .... and then use that signature as their legal authority to condemn the tank.

INAL, but coerced signatures on contracts are typically considered unenforceable, and refusing to return property without a signature sounds like coercion.

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Like you said, VIPs (good or not) are a thing made up by the SCUBA industry which have no legal force, but rather are enforced by scuba-shops. The legal force to condemn a tank without the owners written permission for hydro, would have to come from something like the DOT.
 

grf88

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What you do next really depends on how much more convenient this shop is for air fills and what the other shop is like. I certainly would not be giving them my custom for anything other than air fills.
 
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SlugMug

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I might be somewhat stuck with them for air-fills, but use them for nothing else. Definitely not doing VIP or Hydro there (or buying products, classes, etc). Based on some google-maps calculations, a route from home to shop to dive-site is:
  • 1st Screwy Shop: 47 to 78 mins
  • 2nd Good Shop: 69 to 120 mins
  • 3rd Shop: 40 minutes in the opposite direction of my dive-site, but $7 fills. Maybe ok on a non-dive day, if I have a bunch of empty tanks.
  • Dive Park: Similar to dive-shop, but charges $15 for fills, instead of $10
The difference between 1 & 2 is about 12 to 42 minutes (plus gas) In a light-traffic day, as much as I hate driving, I might go an extra 15 minutes. I may also occasionally got to shop-3 on a non-dive-day, if I need a bunch of tanks filled.

I'm about to have 5x AL80s, so I'm getting to the point I don't need to fill every single dive-trip.
 

Scared Silly

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Dive shop did not only screw you but lied to you. By 1988 most cylinders were the "good" alloy not AL6351.

While I understand the desire to maintain a relationship I would speak to the owner about being lied to an go from there. Life is too short to deal with crap like that.

I am just enough of hard arse I would have said no I am not signing anything and they had 2 minutes to return my property otherwise I would be calling the cops.

Now if push comes to shove the cops would say it is civil matter. But them showing up would probably be enough to return my property.
 

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