Late shows/No Shows

How do people typically respond to last minute cancellations and students not turning up. I typically will send a text after 5-10 minutes however it can be very frustrating when this happens often with particular students.
I understand tutorful’s policy is that if the student cancels within 12 hours they can receive a full or half refund depending on what option I pick, however i’ve had students cancel minutes before the lesson starts and that policy provides little protection for this.
Just thought I’d ask how you guys go about it?

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I’m writing this waiting for someone who is, so far, 30 mins late for a session. There can be no rules here. Every case needs to be treated on its merits. Everyone has a lapse occasionally - that is OK. It’s the regular no shows that are a problem. In that case I make it clear that I will charge. Ultimately I can cancel - I receive 5+ requests for teaching most days so can’t take them all. This does mean though that I can use this as leverage against regular non-attendees.

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I agree that this can be very frustrating. When I tutored face-to-face and had to commute to someone’s house, often taking a long train or bus journey, it was particularly annoying. It only happened a couple of times but the reasons were many and all equally crazy: nobody was there / the student was ‘sleeping’ and didn’t hear the doorbell (at 6pm!)/ the kids were home alone and couldn’t open the door / the family went on a holiday abroad… :see_no_evil:

Such events were rare but obviously a total waste of my time so I expected them to pay full price since they didn’t give me any notice. In the case of one student this happened twice in a row and I just politely explained that I would not be tutoring him anymore because I didn’t want to waste any more time.

However, the vast majority of my students and their parents are great and we have a really good relationship. So even if they do give me less notice but it’s a genuine emergency and they need to cancel then I am totally fine with the refund, even if it is last minute. Working from home, I have no issue with taking an unplanned 1h break. If it was tutoring face-to-face it would obviously be different, though.

If the same student is late a few times in a row then I would let the parents know because in the end they are paying for it and deserve to know if their money is spent well. Same thing applies for students who don’t do their homework a few times in a row etc. In my opinion we tutors are there to teach and not to discipline - that’s up to the parents how they want to teach their kids to be more responsible. From the students point of view it takes minimum effort to set a reminder on their phone so I would advise you to either make your student set a reminder in front of you the next time you have a lesson (you can ask them to do it in a jokingly manner if you have a good relationship with them) or just speak with the parents. 10 min lost from a few lessons will add up to a full lesson and that’s a waste of your time, less learning for the student and waste of money for the parents.

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This is often a point of contention for me. Like @AnnaDuncanScience , I pride myself on my loyal relationship with my clients, so I don’t always charge for late cancellations. However, one cancelled on Monday with 8 minutes’ notice which I charged for, but I’m usually pretty lenient, but sometimes I’m worried people take advantage of my good nature. If it was a face-to-face one and I’d left the house and they cancelled, I’d charge unless there was a really good reason. It depends on the circumstances I guess!

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As a relatively new tutor on here, I would like to know that if I do get a student who doesn’t show, what exactly would my rights be on this delicate matter.

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Hi, this is a great post @Maddieb and it’s lovely to see supportive responses! :smiley:
@Gregory , you may find this helpful, too :slight_smile:

I just wanted to share Tutorful’s cancellation policy and highlight a few key points from it. We have this policy to ensure that students have a reasonable amount of flexibility and to ensure our tutors are protected against any last-minute changes, as that can definitely be frustrating.

Our cancellation policy explains that:

  • Students can cancel a lesson any time up to 12 hours before the lesson start time without being charged
  • Lessons cancelled within 12 hours of the start time can be charged at 50% of the lesson total (should a tutor wish to charge)
  • Lessons cancelled at the start time or if a student doesn’t show up can be charged at full price. We do state in the policy that tutors need to wait for the student for at least 15 minutes in the online classroom and need to attempt to contact the student via phone call so that evidence can be provided that supports us in enforcing a 100% charge.
  • A charge cannot be enforced by a tutor if the tutor is late to the lesson and the student has cancelled as a result of that.

It is completely the tutors choice as to whether they enforce charges but we are always happy to help you with those decisions if you need us. I can see other tutors have responded to this post giving a great insight into how they decide whether to enforce a charge or not. :sparkles:

You can see our full cancellation policy here. :slight_smile:

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I should really enforce this policy more often. I have read up on it before but it’s nice to have it confirmed again. Thank you, @Rachel_Tutorful!

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I’ve not had many luckily and if it’s happened it’s been a crisis at their home.

I do enforce and for everyone, I have a fair approach so do to one, do to all.

I do have discretion for illness but that is not usually so late a cancellation.

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I have the same attitude you do I think. I do understand tutors who feel like they deserve the payment if cancelled on last minute, I agree it’s deserved, but I feel like charging clients is a little negative for the relationship. I value avoiding that negativity more than the payment! So I let them off unless it becomes a ridiculous issue, which it almost never does. So far I don’t believe I’ve been taken advantage of.

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Hi Maddie

I have been with Tutorful for 5 years and honestly had good and bad experiences. I’ve had two students cancel lessons because they were going to be charged and I was very understanding and offered to swap days and completely because they were charged.

Another I explained they would be charged they understood that I had prepared and took time from another job to prepare for that lesson and now if they forget they actually do the lesson or reschedule so it doesn’t happen again.

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Hi Katy I agree it depends on the circumstances. I am pretty lenient with a late cancellation, especially if there is a good reason and rarely charge. However if a student does it a couple of times I will warn them that next time I will charge, and do so. With no shows it is a bit more complicated. I have a good relationship with most of my students and usually it is a genuine reason, like one student who got locked in his garage by the electronic doors and had to be rescued - never found out by whom! I always wait 5 minutes and then message the student as sometimes it is a tech problem and we can switch to Skype etc for that lesson. I wait the 15 minutes and then phone , if no answer then I message asking the student to get in touch with me . If they don’t come back to me with a believable reason then I charge the full amount.

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I think it is just a matter of trust. I don’t really have a 48 hours policy or anything similar because if someone is ill you may not know you are 48 hours/ more prior to that! For example, I have a student who is a Grade 8 student but is struggling with motivation to practice. She has cancelled on the day, but I would rather not put pressure on her in preparation of her exam by having a lesson. She puts on too much pressure on herself to perform and having a lesson would in my opinion make the situation worse. I, too have cancelled at the last minute so it does work both ways. I think in the early days, you are able to tell if a student is taking the Mickey or not! Maybe I’ve been lucky?

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For me, I am quite understanding when it comes to cancellations/lateness, especially with the parents I currently have as I have built a brilliant relationship with both the children and parents and they usually have very valid reasons for cancelling last minute etc. I have however had to stop tutoring one client as they were expecting me to hold the spot open for over 1 month, “forgot” the first lesson was happening (even though I gave prior warning and they acknowledged this) and then were very hit and miss with lessons. This was unfair on myself and other students who would be much more consistent so I did cancel further sessions and explained the situation carefully. I am usually very understanding though as I too can cancel at the last minute (rarely) as well sometimes for a variety of reasons. I know those who have genuine and valid reasons and are not messing me around though. :relaxed:

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My personal policy is I will wait for 15 minutes. After 5 minutes I’ll text to check if the person is coming. But yeah after 15 minutes I will cancel.

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My policy is less than 48-hour notice is chargeable unless due to illness or emergency.

The only problem is that some students misuse the ‘illness’ clause and end up cancelling frequently. I use a 3-strike policy in that scenario after which it is an all cards on the table convo to either fix it or find an alternative. Time is money in this profession and we can’t be messed around by laissez faire attitude / lack of discipline.

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I would actually appreciate some advice here on a specific incident.
One of my students let me know 10 minutes into the lesson today that she would not be turning up to the lesson as she couldn’t turn her laptop on, so I suggested she use her phone to access Zoom or even WhatsApp video as she has exams soon and we had a lot of content to cover! She decided not to do this and ended up not showing up to the lesson. Usually I am very lenient with technological issues but in this situation I feel there were ways around this and I was waiting for more than 35 minutes for her reply.
I have made a recording of some of the content she wanted to cover and sent this over so she hasn’t completely missed out.
Would I be out of bounds to charge the full amount here? I appreciate it is a matter of personal choice but would appreciate any advice!

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I would totally charge full price here.

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Thank you @katywilson6 :smiley:

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I’m generally forgiving when it comes to technical problems, but it is ultimately their responsibility to make sure their equipment, connection, etc works. I personally wouldn’t charge for a purely technical issue (on their end) if it was a one off, but it wouldn’t be wrong of someone to do so.

In your case though they apparently chose not to go ahead with it even though they could have used another type of call, so that’s clearly on them and you should charge for it in my view.

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Personally I would charge. You created additional resources for to support her learning despite your offer of alternative way of teaching.
The only slight difficulty you may have is that they would argue it was not face to face. Do you have a contract in place?

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