Tutorful's refusal to give straight answers

For tutors familiar with the thread https://community.tutorful.co.uk/t/could-we-make-it-more-obvious-to-the-new-students-that-its-online-only that was created over nine months ago, you will be aware that Tutorful have been asked by myself and other tutors many times what they plan to do about the obvious confusion caused by their unwillingness to make it clear to prospective clients that in-person lessons are no longer an option.

Below I’ve taken screenshots of the process clients go through in order to find a tutor:

After Tutorful have been asked many times to sort out the problem of clients being unaware that in-person lessons aren’t an option, their refusal to fix something as straightforward as removing location searches for tutors seems to suggest that Tutorful are deliberately keeping this option as a way of luring people to the site where tutors can coerce people looking for in-person lessons to try online lessons instead. The chances of tutors like myself who teach practical subjects such as piano into persuading clients to try online lessons are very slim indeed. I have messaged pupils back in these instances I’d estimate between 12-15 times, and NEVER have I been successful in persuading a client to try online learning instead of in-person.

Not only is this a case of Tutorful forcing its tutors to do their dirty washing for them, it is having a devastating effect on tutor rankings. I have had countless messages from pupils asking for in-person lessons that I’m unable to give, and consequently I have had to message Tutorful Support ad nauseum in order to have these enquiries removed from my booking score. What Tutorful doesn’t seem to realise is that sometimes pupils contact tutors with a simple message such as “I’m interested in taking piano lessons.” It has happened many times that I’ve returned the message making it clear that all lessons are online, and subsequently I’ve not had a response. Without having the evidence that these pupils were in all likelihood expecting me to teach them in-person, this means that my booking score is unprotected from such enquiries.

To illustrate my point, my booking score is currently 1/10 (up until the ‘online’ change, my booking score would hover between 7-10/10). For someone who’s taught almost 900 hours with 47 repeat students and 19 very positive reviews, this decline in my booking score is very much a result of Tutorful’s archaic and deliberately ambiguous method of recruiting clients.

Another thing that Tutorful need to be aware of is the exodus of piano teachers from this site (and I assume teachers of all musical instruments), and no doubt this is because many tutors have been through a similar experience to myself. Either that, or they’ve given up on Tutorful finding them clients.

A few months ago, the number of tutors offering piano lessons was somewhere between 310-320, and today the number is 256, with numbers declining by the day. Because of Tutorful’s deliberately ambiguous and misleading approach to bringing clients to the site, it’s the tutors who are being punished for this shambolic situation.

Time and time again various members of Tutorful staff have come up with the same evasive response to this massively damaging issue: “we’re looking into it,” “these changes take time,” “we plan to give an update soon” etc. The simple fact of the matter is that Tutorful haven’t given a single voluntary update over the space of nine months, and nor have they given a single shred of information about how they plan to tackle it.

Far from doing anything to help the situation, Tutorful continue to wilfully encourage clients to search for tutors by location - and this is very obviously the main cause of the confusion. Removing the location search is surely the easiest thing to do, but Tutorful seem determined to have their cake and eat it - and also seem totally unbothered about the infuriating, time-consuming and devastating effect this indefensible lack of action is having on its tutors.

It’s utterly inexcusable that Tutorful continue to encourage this confusion while at the same time telling us it’s an issue they take very seriously. In short, Tutorful have continuously turned a blind eye to a situation that’s having a devastating impact on tutors.

If nothing is going to be done about this issue, then we deserve a straight and honest answer, and NOT a continuation of the endless cycle of shallow and meaningless excuses.

Peter

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Hi @7267,

To address the points raised earlier, and hopefully to explain this as simply as we can, the reason why those advertisements have locations in them is because we have optimised our website to show up very high in results when people search for tutors (whether they search for a location or not). So, in the example above, if a student or parents searches for “piano lessons in bath”, Tutorful will rank very highly in the search results. Students do not end up on the pages that state locations, they end up on the homepage where we clearly state that we provide online tuition.

We optimise our website and our company to appear highly in search results no matter what subject/level/location (an actual physical city or online) the customer is looking for, with the idea that once they find a tutor they like, it won’t matter if they are an “online only” tutor or an in-person tutor.
This is an established mechanism for how websites and companies work, and one that we follow, and this is why there are still locations on our website to allow for better optimisation in search engine results. Ultimately, this drives the student traffic to our site and is what is providing our tutors with a constant flow of students.

We understand that not all students will want online tuition and regardless of whether these optimisations were in place you would still receive requests for in-person tuition.

We have made changes to our website that clarifies that we are an online only including on the home page:

We have made changes to our website that clarifies that we are an online only including on the home page:

On the landing page where users would land from a search engine:

On our “How it Works” page:

As I mentioned in my response to you previously, we are working on the site daily and have plans to change parts of the site to reflect this. Unfortunately, this is not a simple or quick process and takes months of in house development, time and resources in order to do so.

Thanks,
Abbie

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Thanks for your reply Abbie.

If you search ‘piano lessons in bath’ you get an Ad from tutorful which sends you to the online piano teachers page that you mention.

However, the link on the google search result still mentions the location:

Piano Instructors Bath - Online Teachers From £15/hr
Ad·https://www.tutorful.co.uk/piano/teachers

Furthermore: Below this google result in the google search, there is also a link for tutorful which takes you to this page:

So if the idea is for potential clients searching for lessons in locations to never end up on a tutorful page which mentions locations, then that doesn’t seems to be happening at the moment, if my google search test is anything to go by!

Anyway, my understanding is that you’re saying tutorful intends to keep mentioning locations on its website, even if in-person lessons are not provided, because it can gain traffic from those searching for tutors in locations who might then be persuaded to hire an online tutor as a result of seeing their profiles or messaging with them. This is ultimately a win for tutorful and a win for tutors who get more students.

As a business strategy that makes total sense to me.

However, even if you make it that clients never land on a page that mentions locations, some clients are clearly still going to be confused if the first link they clicked on from the search engine results clearly indicated lessons in a location. Those clients will then message tutors expecting in-person lessons and tutors will have to deal with that. So I feel bad for tutors who are having to experience this, especially music tutors like 7267 who are, I’d guess, likely to experience it more than others because of the nature of their subject.

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To add onto this, when we are adding in a booking it still comes up with a ‘location’ drop down menu - with the option to select the student’s or tutor’s address or another physical place, as well as online. I do not understand how this adds into anything to do with the marketing strategy but rather points to Tutorful’s lack of care towards actually making it clearly an online platform. I would also argue that when people are searching for a tutor in Bath, that would mean that regardless of the tuition being online and therefore doesn’t matter where the tutor is, I will never show up in those results because I am not in bath.