Why Do I Have to Give an Email Address?

by The A Team (Membership Services):

Those of us in Membership Services are tasked with answering all sorts of questions from the field on a daily basis.  One question that we receive regularly from instructors and facilities is “Why do I have to give you my students’ email addresses?”  I wanted to take some time to explain exactly why we require email addresses and what we do and don’t do with that information.

We, just like companies such as Amazon, Facebook, etc, utilize an email address as a unique identifier.  A unique identifier is a way to positively and accurately identify each person.  Originally, we thought that we could identify an individual based on their name, but it proved to be difficult as we discovered that there were many names in our database that were the same for several individuals.

After much consideration, we decided that email addresses were the best option for the primary identifier and started to require them from all of our members.  We did this for a specific reason – more than any other piece of personal information, email addresses are found to be the most specific to an individual.  All other fields can purposefully or coincidentally be shared among multiple users.  An email address is applied for, created, and maintained by an individual.

Besides being a unique identifier, there are other reasons that an email address is required for each user.  We are living in a digital age and embrace that as a company.  Much of our record keeping, training materials, and customer interactions are either online or technology based.  Each diver has a profile created using that unique email and they are able to access that profile at any time to generate reports of their qualifications, update pictures, take additional e-learning courses, and change their contact information.

We also utilize the email addresses as a method of communication.  A large amount of our communications with customers involve the transfer of digital information and documents.  These types of interactions simply can’t be done over the phone or chat function on our website.  Our training department utilizes the email addresses when conducting quality assurance questionnaires and, being an international company, emails prove to be a much more successful method of communication across regions, languages, and time zones.

Finally, it is a way to ensure that our newsletters and updates reach all of our members.  Information that we send in the newsletters is informative and worth giving a read to further dive education.  It is important to check the emails sent to you by HQ as they contain very important information such as training updates, insurance offerings, etc.

Here are some real questions that have been asked about the email addresses and our responses:

Do you sell your mailing lists?

No, we do not sell our mailing lists.  They are signed up to receive our newsletters, but those newsletters are created, published, and distributed solely by our organization. You may unsubscribe at anytime.

Do you send the student’s email addresses to my competition?

No, we do not send your customers lists to other facilities, instructors, or 3rd parties.  The information provided remains confidential and is used only within our company.

I am an EMT and I do not want to give you my email address because I receive emails at all hours of the night and don’t want to be woken up by the email notification bell.  What can I do?

Well, we are not able to create a profile that you would be able to access online without an email address.  Please note that many individuals with all different types of vocations have multiple email address that they use for different purposes.  Creating an alternate email address to receive and check correspondence is appropriate and encouraged instead of not giving one at all.

My student didn’t include an email address on their paperwork.  Does this mean that they don’t have one?

No!  There are a couple reasons that people will choose not to include their email.  The most common is that they simply don’t realize it is necessary.  The other results from the unfortunate stigma that can sometimes surround disclosing an email due to the history of some companies using them for malicious purposes.  Both of these situations are typically resolved easily by explaining to the customer why we need their email address and our policy of confidentiality towards personal information.

My student is a minor or is too young to have an email address.  How can I respond to this?

The reality of this concern is that the younger generations are more readily integrated into the digital world.  This being said, one must approach the situation delicately as the parent will be the one to disclose the information or provide consent to do so.  Often, a simple discussion of the necessity of an email will fix this issue.  If the child doesn’t have an email or the parent doesn’t want to disclose it, we usually recommend a few options.  The first is using one of the parents’ email addresses, providing that it isn’t already used for another profile.  The next is to use a parent’s extra email address – we find that many individuals have more than one email address.  Finally, there is always the option of creating a new email address; they are free and only take a few moments to create.

I have done everything in my power to try to get my student’s email address, but they still refuse.

This is a very uncommon situation, but we do encounter it every now and then.  The most important thing to remember is DO NOT ENTER A FAKE EMAIL.  This creates quite a bit of difficulty on our end and ends up hurting the user the most.  If you find yourself in this situation, please contact Membership Services.  We will be happy to consult with the Training Department and work with you to resolve the issue in a way that works for everybody.

The Bottom Line:

Here at SDI/ TDI/ERDI, we use technology to enhance the customer experience; we maintain an online database, communicate through email, and put an emphasis on digital forms, formats and learning platforms.  The email address is an integral component of this system; every profile must have one for it to function properly.  There is no way around it, but there are better ways to bridge the understanding gap.  Just as any topic in a scuba diving course, the way that the information is communicated to the student is going to determine their understanding and attitude towards it.  For those who are hesitant, it usually just takes an explanation of why we need it and what it will be used for.  Try showing another perspective or even referring them to this article!

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