Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I became a PADI certified diver in 1993 and an instructor three years later. I officially remained a PADI pro till the end of last year, after which I stopped paying for the honour. (read why below)

From 2000 to 2006, I paid my yearly membership fee to PADI Europe (headquartered in Switzerland), even though I lived in Denmark and thus technically belonged to PADI Nordic (headquartered in Sweden). The reason being that I wanted to be kept up-to-date in English, an option not offered by PADI Nordic.

My affiliation to another region was not a problem until 2006, when I tried to order some teaching material from PADI Europe. My online order was processed alright, but got cancelled later on by PADI Europe, which subsequently also decided all by itself to transfer my membership to PADI Nordic. For seven years PADI Europe cashed in my membership fees, sent me self-promoting newsletters, self-congratulatory magazines & eternal guideline updates; but when I actually wanted to use their services to get some teaching done, they suddenly remembered only local headquarters were allowed to sell me anything. As if I care where a manual actually comes from when I order online. A week later I got a welcome letter from PADI Nordic. In Swedish. And I no longer had access to the online shop. So I had to tell my student to get the necessary course material from a Danish dive shop at twice the price.

After having done the theory, we travelled to Thailand to do the actual open water training. While the Thai dive shop we used as a base fully assisted me, PADI however once again left me standing alone & fuming, refusing to accept my instructor credentials for instant online certification of my student. The reason: in order to be able to certify new divers in Thailand you have to be a member of PADI Asia (headquartered in Singapore). Meaning, I guess, I'm supposed to temporarily transfer my affiliation each time I want to teach & certify while on holidays somewhere outside my region?

When a year ago I moved to Germany, PADI Nordic & Europe joined forces and professionally screwed up again. Starting with PADI Nordic ignoring my request for re-transfer to PADI Europe (probably waiting to cash in my membership fee first) and followed by PADI Europe mishandling my membership renewal for 2007 (despite direct e-mail contact). So I stepped out. After 10 years as a PADI pro.

Today, out of the blue, PADI Europe sent me a congratulatory letter, thanking me for my continued support of the organization, significant role in its growth and felicitating me -about one year late- with my tenth anniversary as a PADI member. I guess they haven't realized yet I've left the association. That or they're in total denial. They also assume I must be pleased to know that I'll even be listed in the 2nd quarter "Undersea Journal" in recognition of my commitment. Second quarter? Either it already came out several months ago, or it sure is several months late. Not that it matters, at least I'm not getting that nonsense any longer.

Hyped-up recognition is alas what PADI is very much about: badges for anything, certificates for whatever and pins to prove it.