"Best of the Web: scuba tips no other
source dares to publish" -- Forbes
It all started in Montego Bay
over a few beers...
Dear Fellow Diver:
After an expensive yet horrible dive trip that failed to deliver what the ads
promised, I got fed up.
Over a beer, my buddy and I talked about how there had to be a way to get unbiased, forthright
and honest information about resorts, equipment, live-aboards -- the whole sport. After all, this trip was a couple
thousand dollars down the drain!
Undercurrent is no longer printed and mailed as it was in the past. Out little non-profit could no longer afford the costs of printing and mailing. Each issue is available online and emailed to subscribers. Similarly the annual Chapbook is available online to subscribers.
Most of our readers take at least one dive vacation a year, or they're planning
a trip, and they prefer independent sources of information to magazines
or brochures. The average age is about forty-five, and nearly one-third
are women. We have subscribers in all fifty states, as well as in Israel,
Switzerland, Australia, Brazil, China, Grand Cayman, Costa Rica, Fiji, and
many more countries. Altogether we have about 15,000 subscribers; a high
percentage of these have been subscribers for several years. Clearly, they
want the best and most honest source of information before spending their
hard-earned money on dive travel.
2. Why have I never seen a copy of Undercurrent?
Undercurrent is available only
online now, though in the past it was available only by mail. It was never sold in dive stores or on newsstands. Most of our
readers collect their issues so they can review them before they select
a destination for their next dive trip. If your doctor is a diver, he probably subscribes, but it's unlikely
that he leaves a printed copy in the waiting room.
3. Why is Undercurrent
so expensive? I can get other dive magazines for much less.
As an independent source of information, we are not expensive. Most independent
publications in other fields that are similar to ours sell for $100 a year
or more. We are not a magazine. We are a consumer newsletter. Unlike most
magazine reviewers who visit dive sites, we pay for our own rooms and our
own diving. We do not reveal that we are writing a story or that we are
representing Undercurrent. We accept no favors, and we accept no
advertising. Most dive magazines, on the other hand, get 50-90 percent of
their revenue from advertising. We get none. All of our revenue comes from
our subscribers. We know that unless we provide our subscribers with accurate,
insightful, and useful information, we won't stay in business. And we've
been in business for three decades.
4. The readers' comments in the Chapbook obviously provide a lot of
valuable information, but couldn't I get the same comments and information
for free from postings on the Internet?
Some people like to believe they can. But the truth is that you don't know
the real source of most Internet messages or the motivation of the people
who sent them. While the Net can be useful, it's an incomplete source of
information that must be viewed with caution.
Undercurrent, on the other hand, sorts through and edits all readers'
comments. We spot false or questionable information. When an occasional
resort operator has tried to "stuff the ballot box," it's been
an easy thing to spot. Of course, these types of letters are culled out
and eliminated. The only letters that make the cut are the ones that pass
muster. Also, many of our readers have been sending us information for years.
We've come to know the ones who are well-traveled and who have developed
a keen eye. We know that their reservoir of experience serves the Undercurrent
family well, and we make liberal use of it.
Can I really get my money back if I don't like Undercurrent?
Certainly. We stand by our word. But last year only nine people requested
refunds, of whom all expected a magazine with pictures. You can't be in
this business for as long as we have if you don't keep your promises.