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Is time wasting on the increase?

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by SayItLikeItIs, Mar 5, 2019.

  1. SayItLikeItIs

    SayItLikeItIs Occasional commenter

    I gain my clients in three different ways: through an online tutoring agency, through personal recommendation and through another organisation I am heavily involved with (so another form of recommendation really). Over the last year, I have noticed an increase in parents of potential students contacting me who seem very undecided as to whether they want to commit. This then takes the form of several email exchanges where they typically ask me if I will travel to them, will I give them free advice, how am I going to get them to learn, whether my fee is negotiable, whether I have heard of a little known syndrome which they are convinced is their child's barrier to learning ... I could go on. It can take up quite a lot of time responding to their questions. Most of them don't commit.

    I didn't experience this very much until about a year ago. The worst offenders by far seem to come from a tutoring website very familiar to many tutors on this forum. We're not allowed to name tutoring agencies on this forum, but the first part of its name is the first ordinal number. It seems to have changed the way it presents information about tutors to potential punters, so that certain details are less obvious, such as where lessons are to take place. However, it is not just the tutoring agency, I seem to be getting more parents who, despite my personally being recommended to them, seem very uncertain about what they want.

    I am always very clear about what I can offer and this used not to happen very much. Am I just having a run of bad luck, or are other tutors noticing this as well? I am not pushing my services onto anybody, but I am finding this quite draining now.
  2. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    I'm not on that tutoring website, I'm only on the one which shares the second part of its name with the foreign secretary. I've always had a lot of time wasters but not the type you mention. Rather it's people who haven't looked at my profile let alone read it. I had one enquiry for piano lessons from a chap living 60 miles away (I tutor maths, physics and chemistry). I've had my status as inactive since last May, as I have as many students as I want, so don't know if things have got worse recently.
  3. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    Can't say I've noticed an increase as such and certainly nothing like in the OP but whatever site it is that does as the crow flies I think it's having a laugh sometimes with the distance
    I don't travel much these days. Mostly from home. But if it's during the day and it's not far I will travel.
    Some of the requests I have had I feel like telling the website to find a crow that can teach French!
  4. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    I agree about the "as the crow flies" problem. I live in south east London very near the Thames. I state very clearly that I don't travel north of the river as there are only 2 possible crossing places both of which are some miles away and are notorious for delays. Yet I regularly get requests from people north of the river who see I'm only 2 or 3 miles away. I usually reply that's fine so long as you come here and never hear from them again.
    langteacher likes this.
  5. parseltongue

    parseltongue New commenter

    Yes. Two this week alone.
  6. alsoamum

    alsoamum Occasional commenter

    Yes I get lots of emails enquiring and then hear no more. I've written a standard reply now so it doesn't waste anymore time than necessary.
  7. cwilson1983

    cwilson1983 Occasional commenter

    It's always been an issue in my experience. As well as the genuine enquiries that translate into weekly sessions, there's also the numerous non-starters: the auto-fill enquiry that has obviously been sent to a dozen or so local tutors; the enquiry that requires home tuition but they live a hundred miles away; the enquiry where it is clear the sender has not read your profile; and most inexplicably of all, the enquiry where the sender purchases your details from a tuition site, a first lesson is to be arranged and then you never hear back from them!
  8. cwilson1983

    cwilson1983 Occasional commenter

    I loathe how we have to reply to time wasters otherwise our 'response rate' score is affected.
    Kateray1 likes this.
  9. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    I don't think it's the fault of the parents/students - I think it's down to the way these 'agencies' operate.

    Whether it's down to laziness/inefficiency on their part or if they have something to gain by generating a greater volume of pointless queries I don't know.
  10. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    I have been with this agency for seven years, as it is the only one through which have got any students. Over the last year, however, it has started to go down the pan for similar reasons that @SayItLikeItIs mentions about their agency: the way the site presents information to parents. One annoying change in my agency website is that it now includes a 'tutor response' percentage, which the parents can see, which means that if, as a science teacher living in Uxbridge, I am given a lead to someone wanting harpsichord lessons in Aberystwyth, I have to reply to it, or my response statistic goes down.

    I would agree with @SayItLikeItIs that the number of time-wasting parents has increased sharply, especially this year, which engage you in protracted, increasingly demanding correspondence, especially trying to push you into giving free 'sample lessons', before disappearting into the aether. I had one such, who responded to my polite refusal to give a free 'taster lesson' by giving me a snotty review!

    These year, I have noticed a marked diminution in the number of enquiries, which turn into paid sessions. More chaff but less grain!
  11. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    I think that's the one that asked me for references all of a sudden when I've been with them for years and had a number of students . These students left reviews.all of them good. I've got enough work without hassling ex students for references that will only say the same as the reviews they left.
  12. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    Yes that's the one. There was an earlier thread about it:

    I find they have now also provided a template for enquiries which will encourage even more time wasters. I think I may not bother reactivating my profile as I can probably get enough work without them.
  13. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    Think I deactivated my account
    Had an enquiry yesterday from another site, they asked for a price for two
    I gave them my price for two and also gave them a block booking pay in advance price
    Heard nothing
    Not even a no thank you
    Fair enough, I'll use my limited space for people with more manners
  14. SayItLikeItIs

    SayItLikeItIs Occasional commenter

    I think this is a big part of it. The biggest part is that where tuition is to take place is concealed until the parent has read your profile, decided they like it, and then they click to contact the tutor. Only then are the options revealed for the venue. From the way this is presented, perhaps parents may not even realise whether or not the tutor is able to travel.
  15. SayItLikeItIs

    SayItLikeItIs Occasional commenter

    The majority of the parents contacting me through my online agency are now asking me to contact them back direct to their email/phone (details removed by the agency of course). I used not to get this. The section for tutees, which seems far less explicit about the way in which things operate than they used to be.

    IMHO, this is a cynical ploy by the agency to whet parents' appetite for tutors without revealing the full deal to them transparently. Result: more enquiries, but also more protracted, with a lower 'match' rate. Potential consequence: tutors getting so brassed off that they remove their profiles. But hey, any Tom, Dick or Harry can decide they are a tutor now without having their qualifications verified. So if it brings in the dosh for the agency, who cares?

    Eventually these agencies will lose their reputation with potential tutees as well as bona fida qualified tutors, and it will bring them down.
  16. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    I agree with you, @SayItLikeItIs. As someone on hear often said, 'anyone and his dog tries to sell themselves as a tutor'. On having a look at the lists of potential tutors on these websites, I wonder how some of them, such as the university and sixth form students trying to get in on the act, get worthwhile references.
  17. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    The only restriction on who you can give as a referee is that they claim not to accept references from family members. I don't imagine they are able to check that. You could probably give yourself as a referee if you had two different email addresses. It is clearly quite pointless. The feedback from students, which the tutor can't control, seems to be more useful.
  18. cwilson1983

    cwilson1983 Occasional commenter

    I just had an enquiry to teach GCSE Maths.


    Only, I'm an English teacher.

    Clearly the enquirer at least glanced at my profile...
    Kateray1 likes this.
  19. sabram86

    sabram86 Occasional commenter

    I've noticed that take-up is up year-on-year alongside the amount of interest. I simply think that the normal websites are doing more publicity and people are looking for a solution other than private schools. It's frustrating, but there's more money overall.
  20. Kateray1

    Kateray1 Occasional commenter

    I’ve had loads recently some were 3 hours away! I also had a non payer which means I can’t book her in for her next lesson till that is sorted.

    The main reason seems to be wanting to know your price which is clearly on the website.

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