Ten Reasons Why You Should Not Buy a Skydiving Package from 1-800-SKYRIDE

If you type the city you live in and the word “skydiving” into Google, I guarantee that the first thing to pop up will be the website for 1-800-Skyride.

It looks fabulous. The website colorful, it has pictures of people having fun, and it has plenty of exclamation points accentuating the delights in store for you. All you have to do is eagerly pick up the phone, dial the convenient toll-free number, and hand over your credit card number. You are only minutes away from untold zero-gravity delights.

Stop. Look. And listen. Before you buy, please read the following ten reasons to keep scrolling down Google until you find the USPA.org site to find a better skydiving solution.

1)Beware the Middleman. Like Orbitz.com or Travelocity.com, 1-800-Skyride is a ticket agent. They do not run any actual skydiving facilities; they merely provide you with access to one “in your area” (see #3 below). However, unlike Orbitz.com or Travelocity.com, they do not provide you with discounted rates or convenience. It is a business solely committed to making money by charging you to find a skydiving facility, and charging the skydiving facility to find you.

2)Money, money, money. You will pay more with 1-800-Skyride. Although they are upfront about the rates when you call them, it costs more than if you go directly through the skydiving facility. You do not get any added perks for going through 1-800-Skyride – just an emptier wallet.

3)Location. Although you put your city’s name into Google, chances are that you will end up driving hundreds of miles to a skydiving facility. 1-800-Skyride sells you a ride at one of their partnered facilities – not all of which are nearby. Although the partnered facilities are legitimate, there is probably one closer to home that can save you some time (and gas).

4)Customer Service (or lack thereof). I’ll admit it – the man who sold me the skydiving package was really nice. That’s why I immediately signed up before shopping around. But when I tried to call back to reach the help desk (on several occasions), I was put on hold for at least ten minutes each time, and they were not enthusiastic about helping me. I imagine they were trying to get to the other 300 callers complaining about their deal.

5)Poor Delivery Services. I chose to have them mail me a gift certificate to present to my husband for his birthday. I bought the skydive exactly twenty-eight days before his birthday and received it the day before. When it failed to materialize in the mail after two weeks, I called them in a blind panic. They issued me a new certificate, which I asked them to rush. I was told that it would cost $21 to have it shipped express. When I balked at the cost, they offered to email me a certificate to give to him for a present until the real one arrived via snail mail. I agreed, but it never came. I called again (see #4), and they promised to email it one more time. It never came.

6)The Better Business Bureau Says “No.” Too little, too late. I failed to check with the BBB before I bought my skydiving certificate. Once I did, I found out that 1-800-Skyride has an “unsatisfactory record.” This means that too many customers have complained without the complaint being addressed.

7)A Lack of Company Ethics. A number of reputable skydiving facilities have posted warnings on their websites cautioning potential customers about 1-800-Skyride (without naming the company, of course). Many of them used to be partner facilities that just couldn’t handle the angry customers anymore. They refuse to do business with a company that deceives customers and then refuses to issue refunds.

8)Questionable USPA Certification. I cannot vouch for this one, but many of the warnings I found (see #7) said that not all the partnered facilities are certified with the USPA. The location I ended up visiting was, and the experience with them was great. However, no beginning skydiver should go through a company that is not certified by the United States Parachute Association. It’s just not worth the risk.

9)Lack of Disclosure. This is another one that I have read about but have not personally experienced. According to some sites, 1-800-Skyride does not tell you about the location of its facilities, the no refund policy, weather restrictions, added “fees,” and weight restrictions. When I purchased my skydiving gift certificate I was told the location of the facilities (but not that there were closer ones), that I could not refund my ticket, and that the jump depended on good weather. The additional “fees” are simply part of their cost and I was unaware of them. However, I did agree to the total cost at the end before I was charge. The weight restrictions were not brought to my attention until after I had purchased the certificate, but as it was not relevant, I didn’t have any complaints.

10)A Nervous Breakdown. This is definitely my biggest complaint. I probably would never have been aware of the pitfalls of the company if I had received my gift certificate in the mail in a timely manner. I would not have been aware of the added cost until I got to my jump facility and saw the real prices of the jump. I would not have done internet research that pretty much confirmed that I was screwed out of almost $300. Until I had that pretty (and incredibly misspelled) gift certificate in my hand, had researched the validity of the facility we would be visiting, and had confirmed that the facility would take the certificate with no additional costs, I was a nervous breakdown waiting to happen.

Unlike what the internet sites warning you against it say, 1-800-Skyride is not a scam. By definition, a scam is a fraudulent business scheme, which they are not. They do sell skydiving gift certificates. You do get to jump out of a plane (and my husband loved it – I bought the video to prove it). It just isn’t the best way to do it. You can do it for cheaper, at a closer location, and in a more timely fashion. All you have to do is cut out the middleman.

If you want to go skydiving, I recommend that you go to http://www.USPA.org. They have links to all the certified skydiving retailers in your area. Some of them have internet sites, while others only have phone numbers, but you can always call them to find prices and jump times. Do some research before you go – find the best price in your area. If you want to make a weekend of it, pick a place near a great Bed & Breakfast. Use 1-800-Skyride if you want, but take it from someone who knows. There is a better way to do it.

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