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Should I enforce cancellation charges?


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#1 funkiepiano

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 15:33

My oldest student is 80 and a weekly payer. I’ve let him off my cancellation charges a few times in the past because he struggles to get around and his health is not great. However, in the last 2 weeks he’s a) cancelled at less than 24hrs notice due to illness and b) not turned up or phoned at all, assuming I’d realise he was still ill. He’s now let me know he’s better and is coming this week. I should really charge him for both missed lessons but I think he thinks I’ll let him off because in the past I’ve asked him to contact me when he’s recovered. That was for an operation though, this one was for a cold. I’m inclined to charge him for 1 week and let him off the other. What do you think?
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#2 thara96

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 15:43

You need the money. This is less serious so maybe reduce the fees that are expected by 5 pounds for both weeks. But this is not about the money it is about the principle really. 


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#3 Norway

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 15:57

I should get payment in advance for each half term from January with no refunds but rearrange one lesson only per half term regardless of the reason. Otherwise people just take advantage. .


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#4 thara96

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 15:59

Text him asking for the money? 


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#5 HelenVJ

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 16:07

I think we can usually tell whether or not people are taking advantage of us. With an elderly adult, I'd be inclined to be more flexible, and I really wouldn't want an 80-year-old who struggles to get around coming with a cold. I'd just make sure he wss timetabled at the beginning or end of my teaching session, so that there wasn't a gap in the schedule.


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#6 JudithJ

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 17:04

I came into this thread anticipating that everyone would say to charge. However, I'm a softy at heart, and so probably wouldn't charge an 80 year old - unless they were wealthy and I thought he was taking advantage of me.
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#7 Maizie

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 17:55

Text him asking for the money? 

That's not going to be an option for a significant proportion of 80 year olds!


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#8 mel2

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 18:10

Is he using a popular time slot? My guess is if he's 80 then probably not.

 

I'd be a bit lenient as all those years do begin to make their presence felt and he probably does struggle physically. Perhaps charge him for just one missing week, and ask him to let you know in good time if ever he needs a second week off.


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#9 Piano Meg

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 20:33

The other consideration (apart from his health /mobility possibly warranting special circumstances), is that a lot of people would assume that if they've been let off several times before, they'll be let off again. If they are only told that isn't the case after the fact, when they're being charged, it could be quite upsetting for someone in your pupil's situation. Unless you'd spoken to him specifically about cancellations after he was last 'let off', I'd be inclined to let it go this time, but then talk with him about what happens next time he needs to miss a lesson.

 

It's a good opportunity to consider what, if any, concessions you want to make for him... Do you want/need to make sure he's paying every week (in which case, paying in advance would be sensible)? Do you want to put him in a spot to enable a more flexible arrangement, so he can call on the day if he's not feeling up to it? Or do you want to keep things the same, but tell him you need 24hrs notice to cancel without charge from now on (if that was your policy)? It's worth thinking it through, as he's likely to need to cancel more often than most students (with legitimate reason), and you both need to be clear about expectations moving forward.


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#10 agricola

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 08:34

I would begin by explaining to him what it feels like when someone fails to turn up.  Eg If they are normally a good attender you may be worried that something has happened to them.  Tell him you waited for X minutes for him to arrive and so on.  Then remind him of your cancellation rules.  This should make it easier to ask for payment for the missed lesson if that's what you decide. 

 

Unfortunately this sort of problem arises only too often with pay-as-you-go arrangements and I very seldom agree to this any more except in holiday times when I charge a 20% higher fee to offset the inevitable inconvenience of last minute cancellations.  


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#11 ma non troppo

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 09:11

I agree about pay as you go. It's difficult asking for a fee for a missed lesson. The advantage of payment in blocks in advance is that you can delete one lesson from the student's prepaid block - then the onus is on them to make an issue out of it if they so wish. They never do, I find. I make it clear that all lessons missed without adequate notice are charged without exception - it isn't for me to make moral judgments on the worthiness or otherwise of the reason for cancellation.

That being said, the OP is probably going to have to let this one go as a precedent of not charging has already been established. I think the most they could do would be to warn the pupil that if this happens again, they are going to have to charge. It seems unfair to "change the rules" without warning.
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#12 Misterioso

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 12:19

I'm a softy like JudithJ, so in this instance I wouldn't charge. I would remind him of your cancellation policy, and say you will have to charge next time. I have been very flexible with a couple of pensioners over fees for missed lessons recently, but feel able to do this because neither are the type to take advantage of me. However, I know there are plenty of forumites who would disagree with me!


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#13 DMC

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 13:57

On the one hand, in the interests of fairness to other pupils who abide by it,  it would be wise to apply the cancellation policy evenly across the board, other than in exceptional circumstances. Your discretion is required to determine whether this pupils situation constitutes an exceptional circumstance. That's very much your call.

 

 

As others have said, I would always take payment in advance, as it reduces cancellations to a minimum.


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