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Missed Appointments - To Charge or Not to Charge

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Layrex9

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Hi there,

Does anybody know where we stand legally on charging for missed appointments? I am about to set up my new business and I am contemplating putting on the back of my leaflets that there will be a charge for no-shows. However, I cannot help wondering if this is a draconian measure because I missed a dental appointment the other week for a genuine reason. Someone had had a fatal accident on the M6. I rang and told dentist's receptionist but unless I could have been beamed up and out of the traffic jam, there was no feasable chance that I could get to the dentists. I got charged £80.00 I was absolutely horrified. I actually said "What if I'd been rushed to hospital with a heart attack or something, would I still be charged then?" I fought my corner though and it was dropped. I would hate to think that my clients thought ill of me for charging them, because they just wouldn't come back to me and that is not what I want. My Mum missed an appointment for a pedicure the other day, it was a bit naughty - she had gone to London and clean forgotten about it. However, Mum didn't make a habit of missing appointments and this was a one off. The beautician in question sent a letter demanding the full £22.00 for the pedicure sent recorded delivery. Mum was hurt as she had been a good customer for several years. She is also someone who knows an awful lot of people around our area and would be a great person for recommending people as she always does her best to help new businesses. Mum ignored the letter while we decided what to do and another letter came, recorded delivery, another demand for the money. Mum, feeling devastated by the way she had been treated just paid up. I told her not to and so did my father but she paid. Needless to say, Mum has not been back and has told a great deal of people in the process as she sought advice from her friends and family on what to do. I think the beautician used a sledge-hammer to crack a nut. It was gone-about in a very calous way. :eek:

So therefore, where do we stand on the legal side with regards to missed appointments because surely - it would cost more than the job's worth to take it to small claims court???? Not to mention the cost of sending things by recorded mail.

Kind regards,
 

fiona wallace

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Lydia, if you read back your post to yourself I think you will realise you have answered your own question:) Should I charge for no-shows?

How did you feel about your dentist the other day? - outrage?
How did your Mum feel about her pedicure? - hurt?
If your hairdresser did this to you, would you go back?

The old adage still rings true....if you give a client a fantastic service she will tell ONE person, but if you give her a bad experience, of any kind, not only will you lose her but she will tell TEN people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I understand that there are particularly naughty clients out there but they are few and far between, if you're just starting out why would you immediately put a system in place that will alienate future clientele?

I know you know what to do anyway:):)
 

Layrex9

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Thank you Fiona - I thought so, but I always feel better when I have had a bit of reassurance! It has been a hot topic in our house this week! Thank you very much xx :hug:
 

hippy-chick

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Hi Lydia,

well their is a right way and wrong way to go about it.

I have a poster on my wall stating that I will charge for missed appointments and it is also on my leaflets that I will charge for missed appointments.

Now, if someone misses an appointment ONCE, I give them the benefit of the doubt.

If they miss again, I charge them.

I have had a few clients happily pay up for missed appointments, and even come with bunches of flowers as an apology. One client has paid up twice for missed ones, and sends her family in to keep appointments as she is terrible at keeping them. but, she knows that she will be charged so doesn;t mess me around.

One other client didn't turn up, I rang her, her husband said that she wasn't in. I rang 5 minutes later (to actually offer another appointment) and she answered the phone. She was in but had decided to go shopping instead. I made another appointment for the following week. She didn't turn up for that, but rang 5 minutes BEFORE the appointment time to cancel. I sent her a bill. She paid up, although complained that she had actually cancelled, and was taking her business elsewhere.

Another (very regular client) rang early afternoon to cancel her 4pm appointment as she had to go home ill from work. When she came in for her appointment this week, she reminded me to charge her for the missed appointment. I told her that I wouldn't consider it as she WAS GENUINE, and she had given as much notice as she could possibly give.

On another tack, I used to go to a home for people with disabilities for 2 hours every week. They sometimes decided to take their wards out on the spur of the moment just as I was arriving for the appointments. I let this happen once, but the second time they did it (in a month) I had to charge them, and I asked if they would do the same to a chiropodist or a doctor. They looked at me as if I was stupid and said 'of course not', we mutually decided that I wasn't going back AFTER I had collected full wages for that day.

Sometimes you loose some clients, but if you do it professionally and with discretion, you can gain respect and educate your clients to behave and they become solid clients. Sometimes, self-respect for your profession outweighs peoples whims.

I AM A PROFESSIONAL THAT OFFERS A PROFESSIONAL SERVICE, I therefore EXPECT to be treated like a professional.
 

kim sexton

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I can see why this would be a hot topic for discussion. I do agree that you should display a notice or put onto appointment cards your policy for missed appointments. And I also agree that you should use your discretion depending on circumstances and client. Some clients always seem to mess you about so it can be a little reminder to them. In our salon we now send text messages the day before to remind people abut their appointments, of course with their permission. It works really well as if they can,t make it they let us know straight away. This is great for new offers etc as well. As far as chraging for missed appointments goes on the legal aspect, it is your code of practice so if clearly stated and the client is aware of it and signs a consultation form to say they understand, it should be legally binding.
Kim
 

kffbass

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I have a 24 hour cancellation policy; meaning you must call at least 24 hours before your appointment to cancel. I don't advertise what the consiquences are for not keeping to the policy; that way I can change them according to the situation.

Generally, I give one freebie a year; you may miss one appointment for valid or invalid reason; I'll reschedule you no problem. On your second offence I will try to reschedule you for my last appointment of the day so if you miss, I get to go home early. If that appointment time is not good for you, I don't reschedule you. Most clients will take that appointment and if they show and there are no issues they get their next appointment at a time they prefere. Basically, I understand some issues you can't help, but most of the time you can give ample responce to your tech if you need to miss a time.

Shiloh
 

Axiom

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I have a similar policy to Shiloh - a 24-hour notice period for cancellations or changes, which is clearly stated on my website and price list.

Unfortunately we had a spate of rogue appointments earlier this year, so I started taking credit card numbers for new clients with any appointment over an hour and explain to customers at the time of booking that if they don't show or cancel with less than 24-hours notice that their card will be charged the full treatment cost. I've only had to enforce the policy twice since introducing it, and on both occasions I felt entirely justified in doing so.

We also ring customers to remind them of their appointment the day before, which only takes 10 minutes to do at lunctime but really helps cut down the number of no-shows - it's worth those 10 minutes several times over!

I feel quite strongly that I should be reimbursed for a wasted hour of my time (I still need to eat, at the end of the day!), but as Hippy Chick said, I think there is a right way and wrong way of doing this and there is always room to take genuine emergencies into account.
 

fliss

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Hi Lydia and greetings from a fellow Cumbrian just down the road from you in Kendal.
My daughter and I started up in July(beauty and nails) and have been thinking along the same lines as you ......that we need to have some sort of cancellation policy in place but don't want to seem too heavy handed and scare people off when we are just starting out.
We were thinking of something like 24 hours notice of cancellation,anything less than that and although we would use our a discretion a charge may be incurred.
Not sure how to word it yet,and so far we have been lucky and people have turned up....apart from one lovely lady who was one of our first clients,who having missed once (she just completely forgot) asked us if we would ring her the day before ,which we now do and she has never missed again.So I think that may be another suggestion to make to clients.

As always there is loads of fantastic advice from fellow geeks in reply to your post.I have learnt so much from the site and I am sure you will too.
Good luck with the new venture and let us know how you get on.
Fliss xx
 

JoanneNYK

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I state on my pricelists that I must have 24 hours notice if their appointment has to be cancelled or rescheduled, failure to do so may result in a 50% cancellation fee. I also take card details to secure bookings of all new clients who's treatments last over an hour. I also offer a free text message service where I text the clients the day before to remind them off appointments, with their permission. Although some situations like sickness etc can't be forseen so the policy would not apply then.Some clients have no respect and mess you around, I noticed this a lot when I was mobile. Now I'm going to be in the salon, I 'm starting how I mean to go on.
 

Emma Bagnall

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me too.... we take 25 % deposit for every appointment. if we are given 24 hours notice it carries over to there next appointment, if not thay lose it. we explain that the 25% covers A PROPORTION of our costs when clients dont show or cancel last minute.
believe me, no one lets you down! and when you have your business and you have staff to pay and overheads, you cant afford no shows or last minute cancelations. if a client is genuine we sometimes let them off though.
good luck xx
 

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