Time for Tutorful to take lesson refunds away from tutors?

While I have had some issues in the past where students were deliberately(?) taking advantage and lying about reasons for being late, not able to do the lesson at very short notice or simply not turning up, I have noticed that this is becoming worse lately.

As tutors we may feel that we need to give the student a pass as they can easily just cancel lessons and go to another tutor, but if this was set in stone in Tutorful policy, that failing to give x hours/days notice of any change of plans, would mean that you would automatically forfeit the lesson fee.

As the platform is pretty well established now I feel that this way then the student cannot blame the tutor and would probably in nearly all cases accept this(as nearly always they were trying to take advantage) and carry on with lessons.

Wondering what people think about this?

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Yes, I think the cancellation policy should be changed. It is 24 hours, no questions asked, at most places. Students or clients know this upfront, and they are almost always happy to pay, since they want to maintain a good relationship with their teacher.

Another option (maybe a bit more complicated) could be to have several cancellation policies, and each teacher could choose whether they want to be ‘strict’, ‘moderate’, or ‘flexible’. Kind of like the airbnb model.

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I have mentioned this before and said that my policy for private students, or when I am counselling is 24 hours notice. There may be exceptions to this policy but all of the students/clients outside of Tutorful have accepted it without question. I have had students cancel in the middle of the night and woken up to find out about the cancellation for that afternoon/early evening. Obviously, I cannot fill that slot and I have had to accept that it is part and parcel of being self-employed. I do, however, keep track of how often it happens, and then let the student go after explaining the reasons why.

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I think it should definitely be 24 hours notice required.

Nige

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It does become tiresome having to refund students who have clearly not considered my time. I usually always refund because Tutorful have historically not been the most supportive at my end when it comes to refunds. I also worry that they will leave a negative review if I do not refund their money. It would be much more preferable for the tutors if we did not have to handle the refund process ourselves at all.

Having said that, I do worry that restricting the clients options in anyway may cause them to go to other platforms.

I was having a google last night of various things a prospective student might try when looking for a tutor and currently Tutorful does not do very well in the search suggestions position as there are quite a few Tutoring platforms that are actively advertising and have paid adverts that appear above Tutorfuls. When I type in online tutor for example Tutorful is 6th in the list. 4 paid ads and a link to MyTutor are above.

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Actually I find that Tutorful does more advertising than any other tutoring provider in the UK. They are in national newspapers and they also did a radio advertising campaign earlier this academic year.

As for restricting options like with 24 hour cancellation policies set in stone and this can only be appealed through Tutorful, I am not so sure.

The vast majority of late cancellations, lateness and also simply not turning up to the lesson is squarely at the clients hands. Yes there are exceptions like illness and emergencies but they would be few and far between. People do not get angry when they are to blame.

The problem right now is the clients have us individual tutors over a barrel and they can kind of play us against each other on the platform. With cancellations being with Tutorful then that option goes out of the window.

I would think that as long as they were happy with the Tutor, then them trying to “game the system” and being pushed back is unlikely to cause them to leave Tutorful and go elsewhere.

Most important point for me is the potential of them leaving a bad review rather than cancelling lessons.

I have one particular student who did this again, cancelled in the middle of last night for lesson this afternoon. She’s a long standing student with GCSE’s starting next week, so I don’t feel I can drop her. She’s done this a few times without reason, I know it’s none of my business. I have another long standing student who’s mother when she cancels politely lets me know.
There was talk at one time about taking night time hours out of the equation. I wonder what tutorful think as they are loosing out on income too.

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But if it turns into a 24 hour job and a student is genuinely ill or part of an emergency then they are charged unfairly?

I think effective communication with parents and students is the best way to prevent cancellation problems occurring. Personally I’ve done this and then if I’ve found that students are cancelling too many times at the last minute then I’ve cancelled their booking and took another student on in their timeslot (explaining situation to parents). I’ve only ever had to do this twice and on both occasions, wasn’t hit with a negative review :blush:

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I’ve had so many issues with this! I once had a parent flat out refuse to pay after cancelling a lesson with an hour’s notice. I’d had such a stressful day I just gave in, I’m not particularly assertive! :sweat_smile: I think Tutorful need to make their policies very clear to students/parents so that this doesn’t happen.

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Had a new student recently, an adult learner taking GCSE English, but was struggling with ‘being given tasks to do’ rather than ‘being taught’ (!) Tried to help as far as possible, but the third lesson they messaged me in the middle of the night complaining they couldn’t do the task I’d suggested trying. 5 mins before our morning lesson they wanted to cancel- I advised them politely it was their choice, but it would be charged anyway. Their reply was ‘Well, what’s the point if I don’t feel ready for my lesson’? Beggars belief. They did book a couple more lessons but then randomly cancelled them after a few days. I think they’d had a few tutors already. Wonder why!

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I agree Eleanor. Also I don’t think we should have to be particularly assertive (in some ways) as this work is tutoring through Tutorful, who manage our payments etc. With private work I do feel that’s different. It would likely help many of us, as well as making things super clear for our students too, if protocols around cancellations were clearly presented to new students - and a proper 24 hour cancellation policy implemented. At the very least I feel that at 12 hours notice or less, the full rate ought to be paid.

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