Texting back and forth with a diver who’s signed up for some training sessions with me (he’s taking a Helitrox Deco class this spring), I was explaining which elements of his program are covered by my fees. And of course in that list of items, there was no mention of the c-cards that graduates get if they pass the course (with TDI this program comprises Advanced Nitrox and Helitrox Decompression Procedures, so two c-cards).
“How much for the cards?” He asked.
“Nothing,” I wrote. “The cards are free… you earn ’em. You can’t buy them!”
He texted back that he liked that idea. “Different to some other scuba classes I’ve taken,” he said.
This got me thinking about why, when I started to teach technical programs, I adopted the policy of “Giving Free C-Cards” to successful course graduates.
Students rarely fail the programs I offer. However, it’s not unusual for a student to have some challenges and have to do a few extra dives or work on their own for a while to grasp a concept that initially is hard to grasp… but an out-and-out fail is unusual.
Sometimes though, it happens. A student has a complete disregard for their teammates, they run out of gas repeatedly, they are simply not ready for “this type” of diving or do not have the required controls over body and mind in the water to be a technical diving. Usually, they accept my advice. Once or twice I’ve run into problems.
The one that made me very glad that I had adopted and advertized the policy that, “Your Card(s) are FREE!” took it really bad and reported me to the training department of the agency underwriting the course (which happened to be TDI).
In addition to the professional complaint, she had threatened a suit through small claims court under the assumption that her course fees included payment for c-cards. She was demanding at least that portion of the money she had paid, back. Her position was that she had paid for the course and expected to get her cards at the end of it.
Odd, don’t you think?
Anyhow, if you teach (tech or sport programs), here’s a suggestion if you do not so so already. Make it clear to your students that C-Cards are FREE, and that students earn them rather than buy them.
Excellent Post Steve,
Ever since I have started scuba instruction and started reading your blog I adopted this policy. Though I have had no issue so far. I think in addition to having the student know this policy up front, it also gives the student a sense of accomplishment afterwards. Because they did, in fact, earn their certification, not just buy it.
I like the “free cards” policy. Regarding the woman who threatened a lawsuit against you. Perhaps you and Bill Oestreich can put your head’s together and send her a suitable certification card to satisfy her request….