I have done plenty of shopping around and eventually settled with spending $600, well actually $595 through the same LODS that i did tdi nitrox with, But considering im doing it on a liveaboard at poor knights (been before and want to go back), with free rental gear (going to be giving intergrated weights bcd and a different reg & computer system a jam, over my mares vector origin bcd, m2 comp, mr12 reg entry combo). I don't think $600 is tha...at bad of a deal considering the liveaboard alone is $380 (i think?? less air)
Was shopping around the best deal i found was with dive hq in westhaven who were extremely flexible, would do the pai part of the course, books, fees and a single dive to get started for $250, subsequent dives for $50 a pop, but seeing as my mate was also keen and his brother was a qualled intructor they didn't mind if we did the bulk of the dives with him, which we go hunting over weekends anyways. Didn't want to do the whole course with mates brother as he lived a long way south, and he couldn't exactly run the whole thing cheap for us as it was against his contract with his employing DS.
Long story short, got tired of pissing around waiting and wanted to get the qual and didn't mind paying for it if it meant a sweet short holiday diving in posibly the best water in the country all for a few hundred extra which i would have probably spent on booze and then pies and chocolate milk the next day.