Some Red Cross providers remain frustrated with costs and customer service despite lower swim fees announced earlier this month.
Issues were aired this week at the Association of Aquatic
Professionals 1st Annual Conference in Austin, Texas, when Red
Cross officials presented a seminar on the new prices and related
changes to the its aquatic program offerings.
The new, two-tiered pricing starts as early as March 1 (June 1
officially). Learn-to-swim program providers who offer the Red
Cross lifeguard training course will be charged an annual fee of
$300 per pool property for up to 150 swim lesson students.
Additional students are priced at $1 per student. For operations
that do not offer the lifeguard training, the annual fee is $350
per pool property, which covers up to 100 students. Those providers
would still be charged $1 for additional students beyond what the
annual fee covers.
Annual fees include learn-to-swim certificates and program
marketing materials; and providers offering other Red Cross
programs will have the opportunity to receive additional discounts
through special incentives and credit.
But program providers particularly those with large agencies that
serve thousands of swim lesson students each year, say that the
price is still not affordable. “We’re still getting our
budget reduced every year so we’re not in a position to pay
more and I can’t pass it on to my customers,” said Jim
Wheeler, who attended the conference in Austin. Wheeler is
recreation services manager for the San Francisco Recreation and
Parks Department, an agency that serves between 5,000 and 6,000
students. He seemed to echo pricing concerns of many other
“We’re really looking to be reasonable,” said
Steve Glockenmeier, vice president of product development, Red
Cross Preparedness Health and Safety Services. He was among the Red
Cross officials in Austin to address providers. “We’re
willing to sit down with anyone to figure out how we can make it
work for them. I think the larger facilities have a concern but
there are ways we can work within that without being unfair to the
The new pricing is an effort to address concerns over the pricing
announced in June 2011, which caused significant frustration among
providers. According to Red Cross officials the intention is to
create a more equitable, uniform system that works to recoup the
costs of program development, but some still have questions,
including will fees increase next year?
Others providers expressed frustration in trying to obtain
information from local Red Cross chapters and with a reduction in
customer service they say they've experienced.
“It seems like we’re paying more fees and getting less
customer service,” said Craig Merkey, aquatics coordinator
for Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg, in Middletown,
Glockenmeier said the agency is still in the process of making
organizational changes that are expected to improve customer
service. "We aren't there yet," he said a number of times during