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September 2010    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 36, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The Unprofessional Side of Placing Blame

from the September, 2010 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Over the years, we have helped resolve disputes between divers and the industry if the diver’s claim seems reasonable. The discussions have been professional, and most businesses, after discussing the case with us, settle in the customer’s favor to maintain goodwill. When we received a subscriber’s complaint that two of his bags went missing aboard the Belize Aggressor, we expected a similar discussion. Instead, we got an earful from Aggressor president Wayne Hasson about how the guy was not telling the truth and maybe even dumped the bags overboard himself.

Eric Ressner (St. Louis, MO) and his wife were aboard the Belize Aggressor in February and told us that on the last night onboard, Captain Marc Povey told passengers to leave their packed bags on the dive deck. “I was uneasy, but Povey said it would be perfectly safe and everyone else was leaving stuff there.” The next morning, two of Ressner’s three duffel bags were missing; they had contained his wife’s dive gear and both their wetsuits (but not his dive gear). Initially, the crew thought another passenger had mistakenly taken their bags. The Ressners were on their way to Belize’s interior, so Povey said he would get in touch after trying to find the other passenger, and submit a police report Ressner could file an insurance claim.

Ressner heard nothing from Povey, so he eventually emailed Hasson, who sent him Povey’s report. Turns out Povey didn’t believe the bags were stolen, and questioned why no one else’s were missing. In fact, he doubted whether the Ressners really had lost much. “The bag ... was virtually empty and could not have contained the items listed in Eric’s email. Their other bags were not full either and they could easily have consolidated the bags.”

Ressner’s homeowner’s insurance paid him the depreciated value, minus his $1,000 deductible, so Ressner asked the Aggressor Fleet to reimburse him $1000, but they only agreed to credit him $1000 for a future trip. Hasson told us that not only does every Aggressor boat have a sign saying it is not responsible for lost or stolen gear, it is also clearly stated in the customer packet. Fair enough. But he then went on to say, “We investigated and we think he threw his gear overboard. Their stuff was older and used; maybe they wanted new stuff.”

Ressner believes someone came up by boat and slid the two bags off the Aggressor, but the Aggressor people say that theft was impossible and, as Hasson seems to believe, Ressner just deep-sixed his wetsuits and wife’s dive gear (though keeping his) in port when the trip was over. But why even go there? Ressner says, “We were far more upset by the attitude of Captain Povey in this report than by the actual loss. We are frankly soured on the Aggressor Fleet now and may never do business with them again. I also wonder why they would want us aboard when to them, we are liars and frauds.”

Of course, it would have made sense to ascertain the truth by strapping on a tank and scouring the shallow bottom where the Aggressor moors in Belize City. It would have also made sense not to cast aspersions on customers. Hasson recently felt the repercussions of his words. In 2003, when two divers went missing off the Cocos Aggressor and the search was still being conducted, Hasson was quoted in local newspapers as blaming the divers for their deaths and even pointed a finger at one diver’s buddy, his 19-year-old daughter. One family sued Hasson personally for intentional infliction of emotional distress and eventually settled out of court.

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