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Are they having a laugh?

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by robyn147, Oct 23, 2011.

  1. I understand. I work in people's homes - still haven't figured out a decent cancellation policy. I appreciate children can "go off" during a school day but it costs me. I also think I am a generous and flexible person but sometimes I think people start taking the p***.
  2. Same here, I have students cancelling appointments just one hour before they start. I find it very frustraiting and a total lack of respect towards what happens to be my profession. But, as robyn147 comments, I don't feel very confident on implementing a strict cancellation policy as I feel this would put my students off.

    What are you going to do in those cases CathySupply? Are you going to charge them one extra hour for the no-show?
  3. CathySupply

    CathySupply New commenter

    I don't really mind if a child is ill on the day (my own daughter is having GCSE maths tutoring and I'm prepared to bet there'll come a time I have to cancel at short notice), but when people just FORGET ... after all, they approached me in the first place! It shows how highly they actually do value their child's education, I think! Some of them really don't see tutors as professional people. Others are just lovely!
  4. CathySupply

    CathySupply New commenter

    Ah, that's the question! I'm a great one for being assertive when I'm annoyed (ie losing my temper and alienating people) so I'm going to have to think about it. I have drafted a polite letter asking for the courtesy of 24 hours' notice unless in an emergency or sudden illness and containing a veiled threat of charging for missed lessons. I'm thinking of giving a copy only to previous offenders and then if matters don't improve implementing a policy of charging for less than 24 hours' notice. Most people are really thoughtful about this, after all. If the repeat offenders don't like it they're welcome to go elsewhere. I've got a waiting list of people who seem surprisingly desperate all of a sudden and all my clients seem more than happy with my teaching.
    Can you tell I'm still cross? LOL
  5. I do the same, or if the lesson is in a place like a library or a cafe and they arrive late I finish the lesson as settled, and believe me, this happens a lot! No one has complained yet either.
    About the cancellation policy I have decided to tell my new students that if they cancel less than 6 hours in advance I am going to charge them 10 pounds. I hope this doesn't put any prospective students though.

  6. To be honest, I'm very selective with my students and their parents to ensure that I don't get messed around. I'm paid a lesson in advance, so it's very easy for me to impose the 1/2 penalty if it's required and don't forget the nature of private tuition is that the student works around you, not the other way around.
  7. My policy is that if a tutoring session is cancelled in less than 24 hours in advance then I am entitled to charge the full rate for the session. Likewise if a student is late or has to leave early I expect the full payment. Its a strict policy which I ensure parents are aware of in advance. Whether or not I pursue the policy in practice is dependent on circumstances, if a child is sick or lets me know early on the day of the session them I'm much more likely to waver it. Cancelling forty minutes before I'm meant to be arriving at their house, I consider myself fully entitled to take the hour payment.
  8. jubileebabe

    jubileebabe New commenter

    I'm afraid that many parents view private tutors as a disposable entity (until you tell them you can't teach their child anymore!)
    I've had this time after time with one family in particular. I've stayed in especially only to have the lesson cancelled at the last minute of I'd turn up and the child would be out playing with friends and would eventually walk in half an hour late expecting the whole hour tuition. I once made the mistake of trying to be accomodating when I stayed in on a Sunday on a bank holiday weekend especially for a student who "desperately" needed a lesson then. His Mum called me just as I was leaving the house and asked for it to be moved to the Monday instead, so I'd wasted a whole day for nothing and could then not do what I had oroginally planned for the Monday. Of course, I should have just said "sorry, your lesson was booked for today, you still owe me X amount and I'm not available tomorrow."
    The parent who did that had actually recommended me to another family who were even more unreliable! One daughter called me herself asking for private lessons, I told her I had two available slots, what times they were, how much I charge and she should talk to her parents then let me know if she wants to book.
    One of the slots was a Sunday and she called me 10 mins before the time and said "Hi! Can you come? I've got a test tomorrow at school and I need help with it." I'd never even met the girl or spoken to her parents and was half way round Ikea at the time and she though I could just come whenever!
    A few months later I received a text message from her sister saying "Hi Jubilee. My name is ..... and I would like to book a private lesson next Tuesday at 3pm. My address is...... See you then! again, I'd never met her or her parents! I replied saying that I was at work at that time, I have one slot available which is at X time and if she wants to book it she must let me know at least 3 days in advance. I never heard from her again!
    I fell into private tutoring almost by accident when a parent asked me if I could tutor her daughter then word got out that I was tutoring and I got more enquiries.
    I should really have set it up properly and given a list of terms and conditions to all new students outlining my cancellation policy. I would urge everyone to do that, otherwise you will just be taken advantage of!
  9. I've had students cancel at 6 hours notice because' today is my mother's birthday.'

    Did they only just find out?
  10. I don't mind last minute kids getting sick and the like - had a cancellation for this evening as they've woken up ill (told them I didn't want their germs!) - these things happen and that's why I've tried not to go down the severe cancellation policy route so far. I'd rather know they're feeling ill and grotty than just have to drag them through a session when they should be tucked up in bed to be honest.
    Know what you mean though robyn - I had that last year - filled a slot early in the year (the time of year I tend to get the phonecalls) and they were just utter utter timewasters. Basically Gran was desperately concerned about grandson and arranged it all, grandson didn't want to be there and worked his ticket and would refuse to let mum bring him- hence me getting texts 15 minutes before on a weekly basis cancelling after a few weeks and then finally, just as I was about fit to terminate it all myself, they decided to do that. Never did refill that slot for the entire year as it meant I lost that golden time for filling up my books for the year.
    The other one that annoyed me was when a pupil was going away for a few weeks and I'd put together a bunch of activities for them to do while away at the request of parents, ready to give them the last session before they went - and they cancelled that session. That one was a bit of a "grrrrrrr" moment!
  11. CathySupply

    CathySupply New commenter

    Thanks for all the horror stories - I'm glad I'm not alone!
    Last week was ridiculous: one person forgot to bring their child (because it was Halloween), another cancelled with an hour's notice (ditto), one was upset because the dog died (fair enough), another was ill (I'd given his mum my Bossy Letter and she sounded terrified when she cancelled!!), I had to cancel two (because of hospital appointments) and one just failed to arrive - when I finally tracked down the mother she explained that her daughter can't do that time any more ... was she actually planning to tell me? How on earth do these people think we operate?
    The Bossy Letter very icily asks for six hours' notice (ie if the child's ill ring the school and then me). I must admit I've been quite embarrassed handing it over but all the parents have been lovely/ in agreement/ apologetic about it (I sacked the last one) so I hope they'll keep their wits about them in future.

    I very nearly forgot about my own daughter's maths tuition this morning. Oops ;)
  12. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    You will never be treated as professionals doing a job until you yourselves act as professionals.
    A professional does not allow themselves to be at the beck and call of clients.
    A professional charges for their time, irrespective of whether or not the student is there. They have booked the time. If they don't turn up, the time is still being utilised.
    Do not be embarrassed telling the parents what the terms of employment are. You are not their friends, you are not their next door neighbour doing a favour. You are professionals employed to do a job and the parents are paying for the service. If they want to mess you around then charge them for it. Take payment in advance and do not be afraid of taking full payment if they cancel. It is not your problem what their issues are.
    I live in Switzerland and work as a tutor on occassion. I tutor in the students home. If they are busy, that is up to them. The meter is ticking. Once the time is up I leave.
    Remember, it is far better to be paid for 5 hours worth of work then do 10 hours of waiting and only be paid for 5 of them.
    Make your rules and stick to them.
  13. I have only had a couple of cancellations (due to illness and detentions). I explain to my clients that i am now fully booked and have a lot of people looking for a slot (which is partially true) and if i get messed about with short notice cancellations (three strikes and they are out) then i will let another parent take that slot.

    Probably harsh but have had no complaints and i have to look out for myself.
  14. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    some nightmare stories out there! on a positive note, i took up tuition again after not having done it for a good few years. I have had 3 students this year and only one cancellation and this was cancelled in the morning for an evening session. The parents have been extremely flexible with me to work around things like parents evenings etc and they all live very clsoe to my house so I haven't had long journeys etc
    So it's not all bad!
  15. I agree this is frustrating, I am also a tutor hoever i arrive at the pupils house, which means my hour starts when im ready, if they are getting there stuff ready etc that is still part of the hour they pay for.
    Also a piece of advice, when i am arranging tuition, i always hold a meeting between teh parents, student and myself and clearly state that at least 24 hrs notice is required for cancellation, on both sides, as well the fact that if this is not upheld they will still be liable for the fee. I know this is hard to enforce, but it really is persevering.

  16. Basso_Profundo

    Basso_Profundo New commenter

    All I can say is "Ouch". Spelling, grammar and punctuation here are atrocious.
    Here it is again, corrections in bold, comments in square brackets:
    I agree this is frustrating, I am also a tutor however [spelling] i [should always use capital I - grammar] arrive at the
    pupils [pupil's - apostrophe before the s - it is the house belonging to the pupil - we call this a possessive clause] house, which means my hour starts when im [I'm - capital I as before; apostrophe here to indicate a letter has been removed [grammar - abbreviation - I'm is an addreviation of I am] ready, if they are
    getting there [their - this is very basic grammar - see below] stuff ready etc that is still part of the hour they pay
    Also a piece of advice, when i [grammar - capital I - for the third time] am arranging tuition, i [capital I - fourth time]
    always hold a meeting between teh [the - spelling] parents, student and myself [why the and myself? you are holding a meeting with the parents and student - it is self-evident you will be present - no need to add myself] and
    clearly state that at least 24 hrs notice is required for cancellation,
    on both sides, as well the fact that if this is not upheld they will
    still be liable for the fee. I know this is hard to enforce, but it
    really is persevering.
    Eleven spelling or grammatical errors, all of which very basic, in two sentences. This is not a tutor I would have confidence in.
    There: place or location: The book is over there on the table; she'll be there by 5 o'clock;
    There: [as pronoun]: There will be football on Saturday; There is no excuse for lateness to my lessons
    Their: possessive: belonging to a group: The boys played with their football; the girls met their friends in the park; the Joneses lost their son in the war;
    They're: abbreviation of they are: The boys said they're coming in half an hour; They're building a new supermarket in the town.
    Grammar - use it!

  17. Were she a youngster in my class, I might go to all this trouble.

    Good luck correcting the rest of the internet. :)
  18. Basso_Profundo

    Basso_Profundo New commenter

    With greatest respect, I think Hull is missing the point.
  19. DeborahCarol

    DeborahCarol New commenter

    The point is that the post was posted by a tutor.
    I think Basso has been brave enough to say what many others will have thought. Tutors of any 'academic' subject should be sound in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Otherwise, they will be poor role models for the children (and will lose respect), and will have a negative effect on the reputation of teachers in general. They should have the humility to work hard on improvement.
    Someone professing to be a teacher of maths and English sent me an e-mail recently with spelling mistakes in it. I did let her know, as tactfully as possible, that she needs to be more careful (as I know she communicates with parents). But, really, I'm fed up with being tactful, or trying to ignore mistakes in communications from so-called teachers who don't have a basic command of English. If more of us spoke up, things might improve.
    I'm not talking about the occasional 'typo'/slip either.
  20. Thanks for the reply. I did get that point actually and I do agree. I even punctuate my text messages correctly, well at least to the best of my ability.

    My post was not meant as an attack on Basso_profundo. I just thought it was a little bit over the top to refer to "teh" as a spelling error and the whole thing seems like a bit of a lost cause.

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