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Not paying for late cancellation


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#31 Chomp

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Posted 05 February 2015 - 11:07

I agree, stick to your guns. I often feel really bad about charging for lessons, but I treat it the same as private education. If you take a day off school or a day off uni because you're ill you can't expect a refund.

I have a very difficult situation at the moment which I would appreciate people's advice on:

One of my students has anorexia which her mum has told me about. Her mum has cancelled 2 out of the last 4 lessons and about 10 mins before the lesson. Would people charge or not??

I also have a waiting list and am wondering if she should take a break if it is too much and allow someone else to take the slot. Very complicated.

 

I would explain that missed lessons must be paid for, and you feel bad for them. So perhaps they can move to an ad hoc slot. Although I suspect if it is mental illness, they won't get any notice. It'll only be when mum says it's time to go that she melts down.

 

I would still charge though, unless they are last in the day, you can afford to be flexible, and you can do something else easily if they don't come.

 

For me, I have to arrange childcare and pay for it, so all my students pay whether they give notice or not.


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#32 Splog

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Posted 05 February 2015 - 11:10

I have a student with a quite serious illness. Sometimes she doesn't come to school because she is ill, and sometimes she is not allowed to come because there are too many bugs going around the school. I have an agreement that she doesn't need to pay for missed lessons, which are sometimes at short notice. I can rejig the timetable and leave early, or sometimes I give other students some extra aural.

 

We are thinking about grade one at some point, so I am hoping the board will be as flexible.


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#33 Norway

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Posted 05 February 2015 - 11:57

Did the mother tell you that the anorexia would mean sudden and frequent "illnesses"?  Unless you specifically said that you would not charge for missed lessons then I would ask for the money.  Do you have T&Cs that they signed up to?  That would give you a stronger position, but you can always use the swimming pool analogy -  if you book a terms lessons you don't get refunds.  I always use the plumber - if you book a plumber then change your mind when they turn up you still get charged a call out fee.  People seem to *get* that. 

 

I can understand that you want to help the girl, but you're not running a charity.  Say you charge £25 for an hour's lesson - that's £100 for four lessons missed - enough to tax a small car.  Sometimes it helps to remember how the lesson income adds up.  :)

In 12 years of piano lessons, my parents and I didn't do the last minute cancellation thing to any of my piano teachers once. Sure I was ill at times (maybe once a term) but if I'd been well enough to go to school that day then I went to the lesson. And we always gave the teacher alot more notice than 10 minutes!

 

Agree about the plumber example being a good one. Of course plumbers are normally male, which I'm afraid can make a difference in the attitude shown.


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#34 linda.ff

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Posted 05 February 2015 - 11:58

My T&C cover simply cancellation, and just ask for 24 hours' notice. The line I take is "if your car breaks down or your child has a cold, sorry, but that's your £XX pounds down the drain, not mine" and if they disagree (and none of them have) they can always go and find someone else.

 

It also doesn't apply to the "daytime" adults, of whom I only have four - they are irrelevant to my child-teaching schedule, and the reason I give for needing to apply this to the child times (3:30 to 6:30 weekdays and 9:00 to 1:30 Saturdays) is that I prefer people to reschedule rather than just not come: some manage to rebook immediately a space becomes available, so letting me know  in good time means not only will someone else get a lesson they would have had to miss, but I will not miss out on a fee which I could have earned. It's not so much for the loss of potential earnings, as I am "oversubscribed" to the point of being able to meet my needs on a not quite full timetable.

 

I appreciate that not everyone is in such a fortunate position.

 

(I haven't spelt it out, but anyone who gives me 10 minutes' notice of absence but manages to reschedule that lesson during the week - or even during another week as an extra, though I definitely don't advertise that fact! - will not need to pay for the missed lesson; however, there are only a very few available slots in any week)


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#35 Allegro3355

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Posted 05 February 2015 - 12:05

Did the mother tell you that the anorexia would mean sudden and frequent "illnesses"?  Unless you specifically said that you would not charge for missed lessons then I would ask for the money.  Do you have T&Cs that they signed up to?  That would give you a stronger position, but you can always use the swimming pool analogy -  if you book a terms lessons you don't get refunds.  I always use the plumber - if you book a plumber then change your mind when they turn up you still get charged a call out fee.  People seem to *get* that. 
 
I can understand that you want to help the girl, but you're not running a charity.  Say you charge £25 for an hour's lesson - that's £100 for four lessons missed - enough to tax a small car.  Sometimes it helps to remember how the lesson income adds up.  :)



No, when I spoke to her we agreed that we would take some time out before doing her grade 8 and to take the pressure off a little, not that she could not attend and wouldn't have to pay. Coincidentally I resent my terms and conditions earlier yesterday afternoon and reminded everyone about my cancellation policy. I still can't help feeling a bit tight, but the problem is she is a one hour student and I have to turn down new students because I'm full.
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#36 linda.ff

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Posted 05 February 2015 - 12:09

Dugazon, how much notice do you ask for with regard to a cancellation without paying? Does this only apply to people whose lesson is at a fixed time each week, and who are therefore "occupying" a slot which you can't offer to someone else on a regular basis?


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#37 Chomp

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Posted 05 February 2015 - 12:47

I'm a major meanie. I don't give any refunds. My schedule is so tight that I can't reschedule anyone. If people are on holiday then I know months before and don't invoice. But once it's been invoiced and paid for I charge.

As I said, my childcare is paid over a month in advance!

Since I changed to this I've had less cancellations altogether so the students get much more consistency
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#38 Allegro3355

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Posted 05 February 2015 - 13:21

I'm a major meanie. I don't give any refunds. My schedule is so tight that I can't reschedule anyone. If people are on holiday then I know months before and don't invoice. But once it's been invoiced and paid for I charge.As I said, my childcare is paid over a month in advance!Since I changed to this I've had less cancellations altogether so the students get much more consistency


Just out of interest: how do get into online lessons and how do you structure it? Do you charge less than normal lessons? This is an area I might be interested in getting into.
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#39 Chomp

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Posted 05 February 2015 - 13:26

It's Dugazon who does the online lessons. Although I have received them!
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#40 Norway

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Posted 05 February 2015 - 13:32

And.... a parent has just phoned to cancel tonight's lesson for child due to "tummy bug". The same reason for cancelling exactly 2 weeks ago. This time I just said "Right" at the end of every sentence.


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#41 linda.ff

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Posted 05 February 2015 - 13:38

I'm a major meanie. I don't give any refunds. My schedule is so tight that I can't reschedule anyone. If people are on holiday then I know months before and don't invoice. But once it's been invoiced and paid for I charge.

As I said, my childcare is paid over a month in advance!

Since I changed to this I've had less cancellations altogether so the students get much more consistency

So what do you do if you lose a few students? Presumably you have a notice period built in, but do you have a ready-willing-and-able type waiting list to replenish those empty places straight away?

 

Having a "no re-schedule" policy ought to mean that two people missed their lesson that week instead of one. Or are you able to fill those early notifications, the ones you haven't charged for, on a one-off basis?

 

It's arguable that if someone can only make ends meet by depending on being completely full up and all paid, whether attended or not, then they are either not charging quite enough or need longer hours (which may not be possible)

 

I appreciate that my situation is better than many. Husband retired, on a less-than-optimal pension as some of it was paid over to his first wife; I have a state pension as well as my earnings, but we would struggle without what I'm bringing in at the moment. However, I do have the potential for "down-time" written into my schedule, and can still manage. If I couldn't. I would have to charge more, as in my case the "down-time" is useful - one child cancelled three days ago, another cancelled yesterday evening but said "we could do Friday" and as a result only one lesson was lost.

 

But, as we will all concede (I hope) everyone's situation is different.


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#42 linda.ff

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Posted 05 February 2015 - 14:36

Not for me, sorry, and in my view, a terrible example to set for anyone who wants to be taken seriously.

I think even that is a generalisation, though. I'm not sure that my students and their families take me any less seriously than they would if I had a no-free-cancellation-no-reschedule. My dentists would charge me if I didn't show up, but if I ring to say I need to change the date, even one day beforehand, they don't charge me. And I take him seriously!

 

They might possibly take the responsibility for turning up for lessons or spending money when you miss (and surely you must have had several of those) but I can't see that equates with taking me seriously, or what I provide. Many of them make sure they turn up week after week but make very little progress, they have "been too busy to practise". Are they taking me more seriously than those who cancel frequently?


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#43 Chomp

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Posted 05 February 2015 - 14:40

Yes I do have a waiting list, but I didn't lose any students when I implemented this policy. Nor did I have to charge for absences. People just didn't cancel as often.

 

If someone is on holiday and I've been informed before I book my kids into their childcare for that half term, then maybe I won't need to book them in, and I can save my money. If I have less than a certain number of students in an evening then the cost of the childcare can be greater than the gross income (never mind net income). I make the decision to spend a proportion of my income on childcare, but if then someone decides not to come and I don't charge, then I've worked that afternoon for less than £0 and haven't seen my children either! No thanks

 

As I said, no one ended up out of pocket, they just turned up! Increased financial commitment resulted in increased piano commitment!

 

Win win!


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#44 Chomp

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Posted 05 February 2015 - 14:42

It's the kids that make my schedule tight, collecting them from childcare, feeding them, cuddling them, getting them to their own activities, getting their school books read, their homework done, their instrumental practice supervised, their bedtime.... I just have no time to reschedule.

 

Dugazon don't be scared! It's worth it! <3


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#45 linda.ff

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Posted 05 February 2015 - 19:32

Increased financial commitment resulted in increased piano commitment!


I wish...  :(


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