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24 Hour Cancellation- Am I being unreasonable?

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    24 Hour Cancellation- Am I being unreasonable?

    I'm sure this has been posted before and I did a quick search but I'm very frustrated right now. I'm sorry this is long

    I have a 24 hour cancellation for lessons. I usually work with people when they are sick but I have students who cancelled this morning at around 9:30 for a 11:00 lesson. Girl was sick. Mom told me she knows I have a 24 hour cancellation and what should they do. I agreed to do the lesson tomorrow but in the future wouldn't reschedule. She agreed and all was fine. Girl is still sick so I gave them two days this week between the days they already come, my schedule and days they can't come it only left those two days. I did say that if either of those times didn't work I wouldn't make up the lesson and they would be charged. I have this rule for everyone. If this was the first time cancelling I would be much more flexible than I am but they have cancelled last minute many times.

    They told me I was being unreasonable and because they were my biggest client I should be more flexible with them. My response to that was that I treat all of my students the same and everyone follows the same rules no matter how many lessons they take.

    Am I being unreasonable?

    #2
    I don't think you're being unreasonable at all. Every barn I've ever been to has had a 24hr policy. They're not always as generous as you either. It seemed like you were quite generous in allowing them to reschedule this once. I applaud you treating your clients. I've been on the wrong end of some trainers suffering from some serious favoritism and its not a fun place to be (I wasn't the big time client). Good for you.
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      #3
      Nope, not unreasonable at all.

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        #4
        No. In fact, for clients that frequently cancel last minute, I think you're being rather generous.
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          #5
          It depends on how much you want/need to keep them. I agree cancelling on short notice is not nice if it can at all be helped, and I work in a job where I take appointments so I understand. I also have a policy about no shows/late cancellations (3 no shows/late cancellations equals me charging them part of their groom fee upon booking the appointment which is non refundable if they no show, but gets put towards their bill if they do show up) However because I have been a bit struggling in my business (though it's been picking up these last 2 years) I have been very lenient on it and have actually only charged it maybe twice since I started my shop 6 years ago. Many people have passed the 3 no shows but over time they are still making me money. If I was super busy, I could be more apt to follow through on it more often. I certainly don't work super hard to squeeze in these no show people when they call for appointments, they get the next wide open spot, not the 'I'm actually pretty full that day but since you're a good client...' spot.
          If business will really hurt with losing this client you may have to be a little lenient if you think they will truly leave over it, if it won't really hurt then enforce it all you wish. I agree that people should follow the rules, and you do run into a bit more problems in a barn situation with 'well if she gets to do it why can't I' then I do in my business where my clients don't really know each other.
          I think if you want to make it really enforceable now if you haven't really been in the past I would have a barn meeting with everyone and tell them that due to a large number of last minute cancellations you will be strictly enforcing your cancellation policy. Then make sure you give a detailed explanation of how it works, even give them a little hand out with the 'rules'.
          I have been riding for 17 years and I have never with a trainer that had a cancellation policy, though my lessons have always been ala carte.

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            #6
            Totally, totally reasonable. Tough luck, Mom. Typical attitude of someone who reeks of entitlement...
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              Original Poster

              #7
              Thank you everyone.

              Yes it will hurt if they leave but I also have another barn where I can just schedule more time there so I should be able to make it up in no time (hopefully). I've been very lenient with all of my clients and I used to do ala carte lessons but stopped because of these clients. They would schedule and then cancel and I'm out lesson money and being able to schedule another lesson in their spot. I wanted everything to be the same for all of my students.

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                #8
                I don't think you are being unreasonable if that is your policy, but you are being kind of wishy washy. I can see from the mom's point of view you were willing to do a make up lesson, but only on days that didn't work for her, which is likely why she thought she could negotiate/threaten for the make up on a different day.

                I think if you have a policy, make one that works for everyone and then stick with it, clearly and firmly.

                If you wanted to give the better clients some lea-way, you could always offer 1 free pass on a cancellation for every 30 lessons (or so).
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                  #9
                  If they had been good clients keeping to your rules, and given that this is an illness, i'd be more flexible. Not because your rules are unreasonable, but if they are important clients and if they normally follow rules and if the kid is really sick - well, what would you lose by making an exception?

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                    Original Poster

                    #10
                    I'm not only giving them days they can't do I'm giving them the only days open because they are either already taking lessons or the other days they can't come.

                    If it were only one time I would be much more flexible but this happens often. I will also include that they just started riding again in April after taking the winter off because they didn't want to haul. Which I understand and would never ask them to haul when they aren't comfortable BUT I also have horses to use in lessons and they could have ridden them. They started lessons at the beginning of April took one lesson and canceled because of being ill. I made up that lesson.

                    It also gets me because the mother lied to be about being sick for a lesson and canceled last minute and then I caught her in her lie on facebook. I never said anything and made up the lesson. Though I did comment on the photo. It was a nice comment but it just let her know I knew.

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                      #11
                      establish a rule and stick to it, and let everyone know that you do. end of story...
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                        Original Poster

                        #12
                        I've established it and I'm sticking to it and it seems they don't like it. Thank you all for reassuring me I'm not being unreasonable.

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                          #13
                          I'm a mom and I think my daughter and I are very good (and considerate) clients of her trainer.

                          If your business is kids, you have to realize that kids get sick, and you usually don't know 24 hours in advance that they're going to be sick. Just this morning, my high school age daughter woke up with a bad sore throat and fever, and I had to let the coach know she couldn't swim in a swim meet that was starting 2 hours later.

                          My daughter's trainers have always been understanding about illness. Usually they will let my daughter make up a missed lesson by joining a group lesson on a different day.

                          If I had a trainer impose a 24-hour cancellation policy without a reasonable way to make up the missed lesson, that would leave a very bad taste in my mouth and I'm pretty sure would cost the trainer business.

                          It sounds like the OP did offer make-up lessons, so I'm not sure what the family wanted??

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                            #14
                            Originally posted by HunterRider84 View Post
                            It also gets me because the mother lied to be about being sick for a lesson and canceled last minute and then I caught her in her lie on facebook. I never said anything and made up the lesson.
                            Is this FB incident the past "sickness" or another earlier one? If it's an earlier one, then ya you are being wishy washy, because you already know she lies. If it was this past one, then you should not have scheduled a second make up. One-n-done.

                            I had a cancellation policy for my lessons (not 24 hrs, IIRC it was eight or six, because I could always ride other horses in that time, pull manes, something that would make up the money if it was a solo lesson), the other instructor in the barn did not. Guess who was always ranting about being left in the lurch, bitching about people not showing up, etc? Here's a hint: it wasn't me.
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                              #15
                              As a general rule, I believe you should be reasonably flexible--people don't choose to get sick, they can't control how long they are. All of my dance studios have had the same 24-hour rule, all have made allowances for circumstances beyond their control (though in those cases, it was always just that I didn't pay for the missed lesson--both times it was accident car trouble/accidents on the way. I just showed up for my next scheduled lesson, no make-up.)

                              But that policy/flexibility is for everyone, and if someone has a history of skipping out and taking advantage, no, they don't get special treatment. If this were a one-time thing where the kid was sick, I'd say give them a break. But it sounds like they aren't asking for a rare exception but thinking the rules don't apply to them.
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                                #16
                                Originally posted by HunterRider84 View Post
                                I'm not only giving them days they can't do I'm giving them the only days open because they are either already taking lessons or the other days they can't come.

                                If it were only one time I would be much more flexible but this happens often. I will also include that they just started riding again in April after taking the winter off because they didn't want to haul. Which I understand and would never ask them to haul when they aren't comfortable BUT I also have horses to use in lessons and they could have ridden them. They started lessons at the beginning of April took one lesson and canceled because of being ill. I made up that lesson.

                                It also gets me because the mother lied to be about being sick for a lesson and canceled last minute and then I caught her in her lie on facebook. I never said anything and made up the lesson. Though I did comment on the photo. It was a nice comment but it just let her know I knew.
                                Toss these idiots.
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                                  #17
                                  I had to add an addendum to my cancellation policies that said once scheduled a make-up is considered taken. There will be no re-scheduling of make-ups.

                                  There are only 24 hours in the day and most of them are already taken. I can't manufacture more time.

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                                    #18
                                    I don't think we can compare most riding instructors to swim coaches or dance teachers. Most coaches are paid a flat fee, not a per head fee, and they are going to coach regardless because there are have other kids to deal with in the same time slot. Similarly, dance teachers are paid to be there by the studio regardless and typically don't just teach one student.

                                    I think the OP is describing a private lesson situation in which she is a self-employed contractor. A cancellation = no money. It is not easy to have an appointment type job and have customers cancel at the last minute. Filling that time with paying work is not simple. I doubt that the OP has a waiting list of students who can take a lesson on just hours notice.

                                    I would stick to my position on this. If Mom wants to stop taking lessons as a result, then it's not worth having them as clients.
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                                      #19
                                      If the policy works for you, great. But you may lose people so as long as you are prepared for that you,re good. I've owned horses for 45 years and showed for 40. I've never been anywhere that had a policy like that.

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                                        #20
                                        I had the 24 hour cancellation policy as well and I always explained the reasons to new families: time set aside, horse getting ready, could put someone else in the slot, etc. I did not have any problems over many years. I was flexible with it as people do get sick unexpectedly or something unavoidable comes up. I was even more flexible when they were kind enough to call and apologize! :-) It was the habitual late cancellations that got me and I did charge them no show fees (1/2 price) One of the best ways to avoid the whole situation is to sell lesson packages, paying in advance and they must use the lessons in a certain time frame and not refundable.
                                        I agree with the others that this client may not be worth the effort. They can be replaced!

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