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Dive without politics
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I received this as an email, it made me smile, but i thought it brings up some very valid points.

Recently we at Dive The World have been considering upgrading our PADI Dive Centre rating to a PADI 5 Star Center. So I took the time to take stock of the situation and weigh up the pros and cons of the PADI system and to decide if there is any benefit in us being members and of us upgrading our membership. PADI is the global leader in dive certifications and the most widely recognised dive agency name in the world. More than 70% of divers worldwide are taught through the PADI system. However, the PADI system is open to wide-scale abuse and membership has its serious drawbacks.

Believe it or not PADI, unlike other similar professional regulatory bodies, is a limited company registered in USA, not an association. Although PADI stands for Professional Association of Diving Instructors, it is a company limited by shares, not a registered association. This means that its directors must act in the interests of its shareholders to make profits and pay dividends, not in the interests of its subscribers (instructors, divemasters and dive centres).

Shareholders want profit so the company can satisfy them by certifying as many divemasters, instructors, divers and dive centres as possible. Diving professionals (subscribers) want standards maintained and their incomes maximised. This can be achieved through limiting the number of professionals and offering them protection. It seems clear whose wishes PADI, the limited company, is more keen to satisfy. PADI - Put Another Dollar In.

PADI does not control the number of dive centres that it licenses. As long as you pay up your money, send in some photos and sign an agreement stating that you comply with certain regulations, then you become a PADI Dive Center. This leads to the ludicrous situation in popular tourist spots where seemingly every second shop is a dive centre: Phi Phi Island has 30 dive centres. Phuket has over 70, and Bali 110! How can this be in the interests of the members? PADI - Pseudo Association of Divided Interests.

With the large amount of dive centres comes cut-throat competition with price under-cutting, each dive centre bidding to survive in the dog-eat-dog industry. Consequently, dive centres must find ways to cut costs to maintain profitability, and here lies the rub. Teaching standards are cut, by-passed or ignored.

There are breaches of standards everywhere. Open Water course skills are often abbreviated, sidelined, missed, and certainly not mastered. No surprise then that we often hear from customers that some Australian dive centres have even stopped recognising PADI Open Water licenses earned in Koh Tao, Thailand - notorious for processing vast numbers of students in very short time frames. That's quite some indictment of the level of course training and proof that PADI has lost the confidence of its conscientious members. PADI - Pathetic Apathy to Dodgy Instruction.

PADI 5 Star Centers using ropy dive boats, having no oxygen on board and using regular under-qualified divers as 'Divemasters'. What is 5 Star about that? The legal implications are horrific. Apart from that, customers are paying for a professional level of service implied by the PADI name, but being given something quite different.

PADIs Open Water course only requires four dives before telling students, "That's it. You are now a diver!" Does this show responsibility towards protecting the reefs? PADI - Pass Another Dumb Idiot. The Red Sea has numerous rubble sites that look more like an Afghan wedding party after a US air strike, than the healthy dive sites that they were less than ten years ago. That's a crying shame and something that PADI must take responsibility for. After all, they set the training standards.

PADI do argue that they merely follow the guidelines set by the Recreational Scuba Training Council. But taking a look at the state of the world's reefs and the general diving standards out there, these guidelines are clearly inadequate. I think even making five open water dives (a 25% increase on current requirements) would allow students more time to master and repeat techniques and skills and better prepare them for diving independently. Coral reef conservation, fishing practices, and Project Aware should form a much greater and more important role in the most popular diving course, rather than as a separate specialty course that hardly anyone bothers to take.

Divemasters and Instructors are asked to work for a pittance because they are ten-a-penny and their professional value is degraded by PADI's objective to certify as many of them as possible. This means making a living in the industry is very difficult, and PADI is lowering professional standards and acting against the interests of its professionals. PADI - Playing Around when Danger's Imminent.

I believe the DM role is just as, if not even more, important than the instructor role. DMs lead qualified divers and act as guides for the majority of the diving that takes place. However there is no independent assessment or verification of skills. Do you think that is reasonable? Satisfactory training and achievement levels are left totally in the hands of instructors to assess for this important job. Often dive centres run DM courses simply because they need more staff, so they have an extra incentive to get candidates through the course. We've seen candidates cramming dives in by walking in and out of the sea off a sheltered beach and diving for 20 minutes at 5 metres just to log dives. They do this for 20 or 30 dives over a few days, and hey presto, now they are experienced enough to become DMs!

So DMs can qualify in as little as two weeks, and may well have never even dived in even remotely hazardous conditions, never mind evaluated difficult diving conditions or dealt with inexperienced divers. I fully believe the only way to improve the DM skill level is to make the course subject to independent examination, just like the instructor course. It will make the rating more expensive to achieve but I think it's a price that the industry must pay to get this fundamental job performed correctly.

Each member of PADI has an obligation to inform PADI if they witness first-hand a breach of standards, but mostly this is ignored, as it is seen as snitching on or gossiping about a fellow member. Apart from this, there is no self-regulation or audit of its members, and so standards are not controlled. How can PADI expect its members to regulate themselves? Self-regulation fails across all industries when there is no financial incentive offered. Why doesn't PADI employ staff to travel the world, acting as customers, and checking on its members? At Dive The World we do that very job all the time when assessing potential new dive operators for us to sell. What we see far too frequently is often frightening. Why can we see this but yet PADI, the largest dive agency in the world, can't?

Despite all of the above, we, like the rest of the industry, must stick with PADI, a name recognised throughout the world, at least beyond the world of dive professionals, as the industry leader, and a name that operators can't afford to not be associated with.

PADI must do more to act in the best interests of its members, rather than it shareholders. It must restrict the number of dive centres, and professionals in the industry, by raising the bar. Conduct a field study and calculate some industry carrying levels for memberships. Make the examinations more difficult and varied, make the crucial DM course externally assessed, start regulating and auditing its members at all levels - dive centres, DMs and instructors. Make sure standards are being adhered to. Kick out the crap that is giving PADI a bad name. Raise subscriptions to existing members to cover the shortfall in lost earnings. Start advertising diving to the mainstream media. Members will be better able to afford the higher fees because they will be getting more business.

Make the PADI entry level course more rigorous, in so doing, helping to preserve the long term sustainability of the reefs and the diving industry. Start to act as the guiding light in working for reef conservation worldwide with a department for helping members in setting up marine parks, working with and petitioning authorities to act to protect underwater environments. Help members that are looking at or working overseas by providing balanced advice and support.

If PADI can get these issues right then I am convinced that it will recover its reputation among diving professionals as the industry flagship, and will go from strength to strength, ultimately benefiting its shareholders, its working professional members, marine environments and foreign tourist economies alike.

PADI - Please Alter Direction Immediately!
 

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From sunny Sleaford
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very intresting

Thanks for that it is a very intresting peice. Having done my ow and aow only last year with 2 different companies in the uk. I have seen first hand the difference in standards. I have sent a complaint to PADI about one company because I felt unsafe while diving with them. That was last year I havent heard anything from Padi about it
 

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:thumbs_up: excellent post with some very good points I am sure this is going to be a looooooooooong thread :D
 

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A Moderate from 04/01/07-24/12/12
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It's a fantastic post, though a little brusque in some parts I might suggest, but overall I agree with the sentiment.

What amazes me, is that there are alternative (arguably better) systems which address many of the concerns, and have been for years. Dive Centre owners have that choice but seem afraid to make it.

So I would suggest that Dive Centre owners should be included in your list.

The agency you have written about has no incentive to change .... it is doing astonishingly well and there is no shortage of new customers either at the open water end or at the Go Pro end.

The only thing that will change it is if Dive Centres start to affect the Agency where it hurts, in the pocket. That's going to take some cojones to do that but it gives the first Centre to do it an advantage over the others in its area .... since it is offering something different for which it can charge a proper rate. Some agencies are more careful about how many stores they feel a geographic location can take. Oh and some already have 5 dives as part of the OW course.

Rgrds
Mal
 

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While I agree, in general with everything in the post, there are a couple of extra points I would add.

We the general diving public cannot absolve ourselves of our role.

It's OK to blame PADI for allowing centres to open up everywhere and not control the quality, but when I learned to dive I did not choose the cheapest centre, but one I believed was going to do the job right. Fortunately I was right and, I believe, I was trained well by instructors who genuinely care about diving and the envirnment. I have recommened them repeatedly.

I also only dive with organisations I trust and have had good experiences with, both here and in Egypt.

Yes PADI should do more, but so should we.

That said I would very much welcome a service where we could report poor training / guiding etc. knowing it would have an effect, without anyone risking a law suit.

Andy
 

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More yokel than local moi luvver
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Thats a very thought provoking thread, and as said before a fantastic post. It makes me think have i done the right thing going PADI for my resetelment and will i get a high standard of training, or it's ok your already a diver your moneys cleared crack on.
I hope this is not going to turn into a PADI/BSAC bashing session.

Dave
 

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While there are some good points raised, we should not think that a comercial operation or being listed on a stock market is a bad thing. Many teaching organisations are enhanced by have a comercial twist, paid instructors ect. I look at basic dive training like having driving lessons, both can kill you if you are not shown how to do it to a certain standard. The big difference is that with driving your teacher is not the examiner unlike diving.
 

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In areas where there are several centres, all trying to get the same customers, there is bound to be a certain amount of undercutting. There are only so many people that can be trained.

Even when a potential diver have done the research, they will be given several recommendations. You only need to see the recent threads we have had here on YD for places such as Tenerife (at least 4/5), Cyprus etc. So if a non diver has to choose between several recommendations, one key consideration will undoubtedly be cost. Therefore, a centre which can give more for the same cost, or the same for less cost will influence choice.

There are very few places where DMs and instructors are paid what they are worth. They choose to work for low wages because of the benefits - i.e. 'living the dream'. They work for less (and sometimes none!)money, allowing the dive centre to reduce cost and bring customers in which contributes to PADI profits through certifications, but also the centres own profit. If the true cost of delivering a course was charged in more places then yes, it might reduce the numbers of people learning, but it would certainly improve standards.

A dive centre paying a higher wage will have more applicants for each job, and therefore more choice. It will be able to employ the better ones. Yes, the student diver will end up paying more, but the standards will rise. Instructors and DM's will have to deliver higher standards to keep their job.
:)
 

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No social integrator
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Believe it or not PADI, unlike other similar professional regulatory bodies, is a limited company registered in USA, not an association. Although PADI stands for Professional Association of Diving Instructors, it is a company limited by shares, not a registered association. This means that its directors must act in the interests of its shareholders to make profits and pay dividends, not in the interests of its subscribers (instructors, divemasters and dive centres).

Profit is bad! Smash the system!. I actually tend to agree with this - but it is a somewhat left-wing attitude :) Anyway, here's another company who operate "only in the interests of their shareholders":

Global Underwater Explorers (a Private Limited Company)

I know BSAC is a hippy organic free range non-profit collective :), but what's the status of the other training organisations? Where do they get their funding from?

Shareholders want profit so the company can satisfy them by certifying as many divemasters, instructors, divers and dive centres as possible.
Profit is bad - done that.

Diving professionals (subscribers) want standards maintained ...

PADI has an active QA department. It's procedures are clearly laid out. Decisions are published on their website. Are the other agencies so transparent?

...and their incomes maximised.

Don't we all - unfortunately as in all businesses, in the end the customer rules.

This can be achieved through limiting the number of professionals and offering them protection.
Some sort of free condoms would be in order then :confused:

It seems clear whose wishes PADI, the limited company, is more keen to satisfy. PADI - Put Another Dollar In.
(smash the system)

PADI does not control the number of dive centres that it licenses. As long as you pay up your money, send in some photos and sign an agreement stating that you comply with certain regulations, then you become a PADI Dive Center. This leads to the ludicrous situation in popular tourist spots where seemingly every second shop is a dive centre: Phi Phi Island has 30 dive centres. Phuket has over 70, and Bali 110! How can this be in the interests of the members? PADI - Pseudo Association of Divided Interests.
Ludicrous? A wild stab, but ... maybe a lot of people want to go diving? You'd think that with such cut-throat competition, the consumer would benefit - but obviously not.

With the large amount of dive centres comes cut-throat competition with price under-cutting, each dive centre bidding to survive in the dog-eat-dog industry. Consequently, dive centres must find ways to cut costs to maintain profitability, and here lies the rub. Teaching standards are cut, by-passed or ignored.
See above - QA.

There are breaches of standards everywhere. Open Water course skills are often abbreviated, sidelined, missed, and certainly not mastered. No surprise then that we often hear from customers that some Australian dive centres have even stopped recognising PADI Open Water licenses earned in Koh Tao, Thailand - ....
Ooh cool - is there some actual, real evidence of this - or just hearsay?

... notorious for processing vast numbers of students in very short time frames.
The swine! How could they :D

That's quite some indictment of the level of course training and proof that PADI has lost the confidence of its conscientious members. PADI - Pathetic Apathy to Dodgy Instruction.
....QA.... (getting bored now)

PADI 5 Star Centers using ropy dive boats, having no oxygen on board and using regular under-qualified divers as 'Divemasters'. What is 5 Star about that? The legal implications are horrific. Apart from that, customers are paying for a professional level of service implied by the PADI name, but being given something quite different.

PADIs Open Water course only requires four dives before telling students, "That's it. You are now a diver!" Does this show responsibility towards protecting the reefs? PADI - Pass Another Dumb Idiot. The Red Sea has numerous rubble sites that look more like an Afghan wedding party after a US air strike, than the healthy dive sites that they were less than ten years ago. That's a crying shame and something that PADI must take responsibility for. After all, they set the training standards.

PADI do argue that they merely follow the guidelines set by the Recreational Scuba Training Council. But taking a look at the state of the world's reefs and the general diving standards out there, these guidelines are clearly inadequate. I think even making five open water dives (a 25% increase on current requirements) would allow students more time to master and repeat techniques and skills and better prepare them for diving independently.
It's obviously all the fault of divers - it must be true, you just said it. All that building work, overfishing and so on has nothing to do with it. That must be why Ras Mohammed is such a junk heap..... It's quite a leap to go from "four dives make a diver", to "PADI are responsible for the destruction of the world's reefs". So, how many training dives will it take to convince a student to respect their environment? In my experience, you either are that kind of person to begin with or you're not.

Coral reef conservation, fishing practices, and Project Aware should form a much greater and more important role in the most popular diving course, rather than as a separate specialty course that hardly anyone bothers to take.
Project Aware courses including the non-diving ones count as full Specialties - a move many didn't agree with. PADI are pushing the National Geographic add-on to to the OW quite hard. But it's a difficult sell. Maybe the other agencies should reciprocate and level the playing field a bit?

Divemasters and Instructors are asked to work for a pittance because they are ten-a-penny and their professional value is degraded by PADI's objective to certify as many of them as possible. This means making a living in the industry is very difficult, and PADI is lowering professional standards and acting against the interests of its professionals. PADI - Playing Around when Danger's Imminent.
Well, duh. Supply and demand (smash the state!). This was made very clear to me as part of my DM training. As part of the syllabus in fact. To be a success in the dive industry you need a great many more skills - boat handling, compressor operation/maintenance, retail skills, business management, etc, etc, etc.

I believe the DM role is just as, if not even more, important than the instructor role.
Not more or less important - just different. However, an instructor can work as a DM, but not vice versa - so you are you going to pay more?

DMs lead qualified divers and act as guides for the majority of the diving that takes place. However there is no independent assessment or verification of skills. Do you think that is reasonable? Satisfactory training and achievement levels are left totally in the hands of instructors to assess for this important job.
Good thing - this makes instructors personally responsible for their actions.

Often dive centres run DM courses simply because they need more staff, so they have an extra incentive to get candidates through the course. We've seen candidates cramming dives in by walking in and out of the sea off a sheltered beach and diving for 20 minutes at 5 metres just to log dives. They do this for 20 or 30 dives over a few days, and hey presto, now they are experienced enough to become DMs!
Standards violation - blah blah QA see above. If people actually reported this stuff, instead of perpetually whingeing on about it on t'internet, then MAYBE the "practice" would stop.

So DMs can qualify in as little as two weeks, and may well have never even dived in even remotely hazardous conditions, never mind evaluated difficult diving conditions or dealt with inexperienced divers. I fully believe the only way to improve the DM skill level is to make the course subject to independent examination, just like the instructor course. It will make the rating more expensive to achieve but I think it's a price that the industry must pay to get this fundamental job performed correctly.

Each member of PADI has an obligation to inform PADI if they witness first-hand a breach of standards, but mostly this is ignored, as it is seen as snitching on or gossiping about a fellow member. Apart from this, there is no self-regulation or audit of its members, and so standards are not controlled. How can PADI expect its members to regulate themselves? Self-regulation fails across all industries when there is no financial incentive offered. Why doesn't PADI employ staff to travel the world, acting as customers, and checking on its members? At Dive The World we do that very job all the time when assessing potential new dive operators for us to sell. What we see far too frequently is often frightening. Why can we see this but yet PADI, the largest dive agency in the world, can't?
All very laudable, but I'm starting to question the veracity of this "email". Did Dive The World really write this? Is it a leak? From sources (gasp) CLOSE TO THE VERY TOP?? We should be told :)

Despite all of the above, we, like the rest of the industry, must stick with PADI, a name recognised throughout the world, at least beyond the world of dive professionals, as the industry leader, and a name that operators can't afford to not be associated with.
Ah the application of principles in practice. It's all the other guys' fault - however we'll just toe the line. After all, we wouldn't want to upset our shareholders...;) Speaking of which:

PADI must do more to act in the best interests of its members, rather than it shareholders.
Illegal (smash the ....)

It must restrict the number of dive centres, and professionals in the industry, by raising the bar. Conduct a field study and calculate some industry carrying levels for memberships. Make the examinations more difficult and varied, make the crucial DM course externally assessed, start regulating and auditing its members at all levels - dive centres, DMs and instructors.
Start?

Make sure standards are being adhered to. Kick out the crap that is giving PADI a bad name. Raise subscriptions to existing members to cover the shortfall in lost earnings. Start advertising diving to the mainstream media.
They sponsored Jessica Alba - what more do you want :)

Members will be better able to afford the higher fees because they will be getting more business.
*cough*



Thanks for brightening up a Monday morning.

darthmoll said:
it made me smile
Yeah, me too. :)
 
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Dive without politics
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PADI has an active QA department. It's procedures are clearly laid out. Decisions are published on their website. Are the other agencies so transparent?
Your QA mantra, makes me think that you dont actually realise that the PADI QA department does not think that the death of a student, when the instructor is found neglegent is grounds for suspension or expulshion, i think it is, and am sure that many others would agree.
 

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darthmoll said:
Your QA mantra, makes me think that you dont actually realise that the PADI QA department does not think that the death of a student, when the instructor is found neglegent is grounds for suspension or expulshion, i think it is, and am sure that many others would agree.
1) My "QA mantra" :confused: Do explain.
2) I would agree - negligence leading to death should be grounds for expulsion.
3) Do you have a reference to the above story?

I haven't got my manual with me right now. Anyone mind looking up what PADI thinks ARE grounds for expulsion?
 

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Dive without politics
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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
1) My "QA mantra" :confused: Do explain.
2) I would agree - negligence leading to death should be grounds for expulsion.
3) Do you have a reference to the above story?

I haven't got my manual with me right now. Anyone mind looking up what PADI thinks ARE grounds for expulsion?
Your QA mantra, was the mention of the QA department every time standards was mentioned in the OP.
 

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Your QA mantra, was the mention of the QA department every time standards was mentioned in the OP.

A diver was killed in 1998 in Scotland, he was under instruction, the instructor and dive center were found liable in a court of law, Jedburgh Sherrif Court, and fined, the center in question is still a 5 Star IDC, and the instructor was running his own center the last time i heard.
I mentioned QA as often as the author mentioned standards (less so in fact). It remains a fact that people like to complain about standards, but very rarely (it seems) like to make that complaint official.

I'll say it again: I think negligence leading to death should be grounds for explusion.

Is the instructor in question actually working as an instructor?

From the brief account you give, I find it difficult to understand why the instructor was not expelled. I assume that you have pointed this out to PADI? There would have inevitably been a QA investigation - did you follow it up, and do you know what PADI's reasoning was for (presumably) dropping the proceedings?

Your profile says that you are a PADI Staff Instructor (active?). Do you happen to know what the manual says are grounds for explusion?

Incidentally I'd be interested to know the names involved if you're willing. Can you PM them?
 

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Painful
Acutely damaging
Demeaning
Invective


There is good & bad in everything...PADI is not perfect , what is?....but there are some damn good, dedicated Instructors & centres within its system who are proud to uphold standards. Along the way those people who choose to pass on their love of diving as a career choice work within a people business ( yes! it can be a business & still ethical) where they accept the expense, hassle & ultimately the heavy duty responsibility to safely provide a service where lives are at stake.
Centres should also take on a team of professionals who reflect their own high standards and act as a team regardless of their status or how they choose to be rewarded for they sometimes exceptionally hard work.

If these guys( at "Dive the World") want so badlyto make a difference they could try doing so from within by setting an example....they could help to rid the system of those rougue operators who tar everyone with the same brush.Have they even bothered to discuss these issues & concerns (or presented their proof & supporting data ) with the hierachy at PADI?.......let's all work together to try to clean up the industry ( & the environment, for that matter! ) instead of bitching about agencies & associations....we all have to sleep at night & there are always going to be operations out there who don't share our altruistic strivings, regardless of who's badge they wear.
We are not all "get rich quick" merchants or rogues.........honest!

Nice discussion starter Darth!!
 

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"Three sheds"
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I'll try and avoid the agency bashing, but I'll say that all agencies have good and bad instructors within then. I think the main problem is that brand new divers have no idea about standards. I chose my PADI centre when t'Missus and I wanted to do our OW courses because we wanted somewhere warm, there are a lot of places to learn in Sharm, and this place was offering a two-for-one deal.

Perhaps an independent inspector, jointly funded by the agencies, but independent from all would be good. Someone like the "Mystery Diver" in whichever rag it is. But I'm not sure how affordable it would be, or how practicable it would be once their face was known.

Janos
 

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If these guys( at "Dive the World") want so badlyto make a difference
I'm not so sure that they wrote that. It has the same ring to it as some of the more inflammatory "political correctness" emails that go around. Even if they did they certainly wouldn't be emailing it out to all and sundry.

Perhaps an independent inspector, jointly funded by the agencies, but independent from all would be good.
Like the HSE? Or .......... CMAS? More regulation (sigh). Maybe it's the way forward, I don't know.


PADI get a lot of stick - but all they do is provide a framework, and it's a very good one IMO (as are those of other agencies). It's up to the instructors and dive centres to take that framework and provide a good service. If there's to be any "bashing" that's where it should be aimed.
 

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I think the main problem is that brand new divers have no idea about standards.
Interesting, and it should really be happening already

1) Safety: The HSE briefing includes what the students have a right to expect.
2) Skills: Using PADI as an example: the idea is to read out the performance requirements for all skills so the student knows what is expected.

Maybe the point is that it's difficult for first-time students to appreciate why one centre or instructor would be better than another.
 

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I wonder.... as one does when bored with this kind of rubbish.... whether there are fast food forums...

Bob the McDonalds franchisee bangs on about how shit the food is but if only the big cheeses would do something about it.... meantime let's rake in the cash from our global brand strength....

Chris
 

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One thing to bear in mind is that a dive centre does not make a profit ONLY by cutting its costs, but also by increasing revenues by attracting more customers. It can obviously do this by offering competitive prices....but an alternative is to offer high standards and a good quality service.

Someone has already mentioned the number of times that people on YD ask for recommendations regarding dive centres in counties such as Eqypt, Malta and Cyprus. I may be wrong, but it is not very often that the recommendations given say "You should go to [so and so]. They are really cheap". People DO tend to appreciate high standards and good service.

While I am not suggesting that compeition amongst dive centres necessarily results in high standards, I do think that people need to recognise the advantages that the PADI system provides in terms of healthy compeition for a limited supply of customers.

While the "cut costs at all costs" ethos no doubt applies to many PADI centres, I do not think this is true of them all.

 
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