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Cancellation Policies?

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by JustCricket, May 30, 2016.

  1. JustCricket

    JustCricket New commenter

    I've tutored the odd child for most of my teaching career but this year have started advertising and treating it as more of a business. I have had to turn people away over the year and am starting to get frustrated at the number of people who have cancelled an hour or two prior to the lesson or effectively not turned up for a session. One of the last sessions I turned up at the pupils home, phoned after getting no answer to my knocking and was told "Oh sorry, we are on holiday in Wales this week!" When I start advertising again next year I'm hoping to have some sort of cancellation policy in place.

    What do people do in terms of cancellation policies? I generally give people 2 weeks notice if I am unavailable for a session and have cancelled exactly one lesson all year due to illness. I'm looking for something that is fair to both parties but without being more than a paragraph long as I don't want them to have to engage a lawyer prior to signing my contract.

    Have you found that some clients are hesitant to accept things such as contracts and/or cancellation policies?
  2. Ian1983

    Ian1983 Occasional commenter

    Mine copied and pasted below. I have this on my website and also stick it in the back of the pupils' books (as part of an 'Information for Parents / Guardians Form', that also lists my contact details, qualifications etc).

    I point it out to parents at the end of the first session but have never asked for a signature.

    Cancellation Policy
    • Please give me sufficient notice if you need to cancel a lesson for any reason. Any cancellations made after 10am on the day of the lesson are charged at the normal rate. The same applies if I arrive at the start of the lesson and the pupil is not there.
    • In the case of joint lessons, if one pupil cancels after 10am, I am happy to still do an individual lesson with the other pupil. However, this will be at the price of an individual lesson, not half the price of a joint lesson.
    • In the case of repeated, frequent cancellations (whether before the deadline or not), I do reserve the right to not continue tutoring a pupil
    • Any cancellation messages should be sent to my mobile phone or my email, but not my home phone.
  3. adamcreen

    adamcreen Occasional commenter

    I have a 24 hours rule. If they cancel with less then 24 hours notice, they still pay. If I cancel with less than 24 hours notice, they get the next session free.

    Twice parents have cancelled on the day, and then never used me again so they don't have to pay up. I'm glad to be rid of that sort of parent. There's never been problems when I offer a free lesson however!
  4. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    This is my policy document, issued to parents in October 2015, with an updated copy given to all new clients during their free consultation prior to tutoring commencing.


    From 1st November 2015, we ask that parents pay in advance for all scheduled lessons for the calendar month. Tutors will accept cash in person, or will provide details for BACS transfer if preferable.

    We appreciate that this is a significant change, but it is one we feel is necessary owing to high levels of cancellations leading to loss of earnings for our tutors. Please make payment on or before 1st of each month for all scheduled lessons for the forthcoming month. Therefore, if 4 lessons are planned for November, payment for these must be made on or before 1st November.

    In light of this new payment policy, the following information may be useful:

    Parent/Student Cancellation

    We understand that sometimes scheduled lessons cannot take place. Therefore the following measures will be put in place:

    • Where ever possible, re-scheduling the lesson is the preferred course of action[1]

    • If your child needs to re-arrange their lesson due to school or extra-curricular commitment, family commitment or for any other reason, please notify your tutor as soon as possible to make arrangements.

    • Pre-paid lesson fees can be carried forward if required.

    Cancellation – illness

    • It is reasonable that each parent/student may have cause to cancel a lesson without notice up to 2 lessons per school term[2] due to illness or other unavoidable circumstances[3]

    • In the first 2 instances, every effort should be made to re-arrange the lesson date/time, although if this is not possible, your pre-paid fee will be carried over to the following month.

    • In the event of more than 2 cancellations per term fees will not be returned or carried over unless the lesson is re-scheduled.

    School Holidays

    • If you prefer to take a break from tuition during school holidays, please inform your tutor, giving one month’s notice.

    • If you arrange to continue lessons during the holidays and then change your mind, cancelled lessons will be charged unless reasonable notice is provided.

    • If you take a term-time family holiday, please give one month’s notice.

    • These policies ensure that a tutor may work with another student whilst you are away.

    Our commitment:

    We will endeavour to never cancel a lesson unless by mutual agreement or in extenuating circumstances such as extreme weather. In these instances, pre-paid fees will be carried over or refunded.

    You will appreciate, of course, that many tutors are also full-time teachers, and as such may be called upon to attend parents’ evenings and other work commitments, leading to the cancellation of a lesson. Naturally, notice will be given and no charge made.

    I am sure you will understand that, whilst tutors are extremely dedicated professionals, their livelihoods do depend on their income and, thus, it is important that these arrangements are in place to ensure the viability of tutoring as a business.

    Thank you in advance for your support in this matter. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask your tutor for clarification.

    [1] Re-scheduling lessons is subject to tutor availability. If this is not possible, the lesson may be counted toward the 2 cancellation limit for that term.

    [2]For these purposes, terms dates are defined as: Term 1: September 1st – Christmas; Term 2: 1st January – Easter break; Term 3: End of Easter holidays – Summer break. Lessons during school holidays are negotiable; no-notice cancellation fee applies.

    [3]Please note that school events or other arrangements where reasonable notice could have been given are not considered ‘unavoidable’.

    Since I've given up full time teaching, if a student or two cancels it makes a huge difference to my income. Also, I was finding that I have upfront costs such as petrol and printing. If I'm not paid until the day of the lesson, I may not actually have the money to put petrol in the car to get to the lesson.

    None of my clients had a single problem with these policies.
  5. doctoryes

    doctoryes Occasional commenter

    Mine is a similar length to Ian's. 24 hours notice and rearranged date = no charge. Cancelling on the day may be charged (depending on the number of hours notice given). For school holidays I usually email parents a few weeks beforehand to confirm if they would like a lesson or not.
  6. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    Mine is rather lengthy since tutoring is now my main source of income and if lessons are cancelled it means I don't pay my mortgage. When I was earning £30k+ as a full time teacher, my tutoring was just a bit of 'play money' so a cancellation meant a night off and didn't matter much. Now it's the difference between putting petrol I the car or not.
  7. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    I've only ever once gone to a tutoring session and found an empty house.

    When I next saw the student his Mum was very apologetic (and they paid up fof the non-existent session)
  8. musikteech

    musikteech Occasional commenter

    Those cancellation and recheduling policies you've pasted are too long-winded. i can't even understand them! @EvaSmit Do you earn £30k tutoring then? That's difficult to achieve isn't it?
  9. JustCricket

    JustCricket New commenter

    Firstly, many thanks for sharing!

    The shorter ones look more preferable to me than the longer ones. However, it seems there is simply a blanket "after this time, its the normal fee." Do you ever make allowances for illness, hospital incidents or other unavoidable events? I like Eva's idea of giving some grace but think the length of that policy is less than ideal. Its hard to other some grace though without defining things such as term dates though - so I accept it may be a necessity.

    Does anyone offer a reduced fee? I was considering something like half my normal fee being payable for a cancellation since I think charging full price may be a little harsh.

    Love the idea of offering the free lesson if I cancel too. Obviously, it will almost never be an issue - but I think the cancellation policy should work both ways in order to be fair.
    adamcreen likes this.
  10. Ian1983

    Ian1983 Occasional commenter

    Do you ever make allowances for illness, hospital incidents or other unavoidable events?

    Almost never. Generosity can get taken advantage of. There's been more than one occasion when I've had a text from a parent of a newish pupil saying 'Hi Ian. Can we cancel tonight's lesson please. Joe is really ill'

    My reply: 'Hi yes no problem. Obviously I will have to charge for the lesson though because it's after the 10am cancellation deadline'

    Then 10 minutes later, another text comes through.............................'It's ok, he seems to be picking up a bit. I'll give him a couple of paracetamols, See you at 5pm' :D

    I was chatting a hotel receptionist about her experience of cancellations once. She said that the number of people who get 'rushed into hospital' is unbelievable......................it's no wonder the NHS is on it's knees :D

    Having said all the above, I don't see any problem in making the cancellation charge half fee if that's your preference.
  11. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    Each to their own. My policy has resulted in my never losing a single lesson fee since I introduced it in November 2015.

    Half of what is there is my commitment to the students.

    @musikteech It's none of your business what I earn from private tutoring, I earn a good salary, however. Enough that I don't need to teach full time anymore.

    I'm surprised you can't understand them - all of my clients do (I tutor around 10 students on a weekly basis, and a few more on an ad hoc basis). Basically, if you cancel you have 2 lessons where I'll basically give a refund. Since you've paid upfront for the month, I'll simply carry that money over and deduct it from next month.

    If you cancel more than 2 in a term, I keep your money. Don't like? Lump it. Find another tutor. I have a waiting list.

    I find that stating my policy that bluntly would save paper, but is rather less palatable.

    However, what I would add is that the policy is only this length for existing tutees, in order to explain how and why I've changed from a week-by-week payment to a month in advance. Naturally, new clients have never known the old system, so don't need such a lengthy pre-amble.

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