Realtime Reception News

Is it legal? Can I charge for cancelled appointments?

Many businesses are charging in advance for appointments to ensure against loss of income if the customer misses their appointment. Is it legal?

Yes it is!

customers and practitioners should treat each other fairly

Government guidance is that advance payments, deposits and cancellation charges should be “fair” to both the customer and the service provider.

What is fair? There is a gov.uk website – the Competition and Markets Authority which explains fair and  unfair terms for businesses.

Missed appointments

So, as a practitioner you can charge in advance for an appointment. If the customer misses the appointment or cancels at less than 24 hours it is not reasonable to expect the appointment to be filled so it is ok to keep all or part of the fee. But if you book someone else into the appointment you should refund all or part of the fee.

If you don’t charge at the point of booking you will have to chase the customer for payment. Good luck with that.

Missed classes

Some clinics run classes for a set period, typically 4 or 6 weeks. Customers book in advance and pay in advance. If a customer misses one of these without notice the practitioner can keep, all or part of the fee.

If the customer cancels in good time and you are able to fill the appointment you should refund all or part of that portion of the course fee.

If you as a practitioner cancel a class or appointment you should either transfer the paid fee to another appointment or give a refund. A credit is only of value if the customer can use it, eg to book in on another class.

A term saying that no refund is available in any circumstances is likely to be unfair.

All or part of the fee?

The government guidance states that you must take into account what your business is actually losing as a result of the cancellation.

Again it comes down to being fair.

You should state your policy on your website and on any written material or email you send to the customer, and inform them at the time of booking. (Which we do for you, routinely).

To find our more about how we take pre-payments for you look on the website or give us a call.

We’ve renewed our status as Investors in People

Investors in People logoWe are very proud to announce that we have successfully renewed our status as Investors In People.

We are really thrilled because our employees are so important to us (and to our customers) and it is a way of ensuring that we are doing our best for them.

Our success is dependent on the loyalty, enthusiasm and commitment of our team.

Service industries like ours are reliant on the willingness of employees to reach the standards we require and, on occasion, well beyond. This is about mind-set as well as working conditions, its about building a relationship with clients, and it’s about feeling valued. Read more…

Card or Cash?

Card or cash?

Card or cash?

So you have given a treatment to a client and you ask them to pay. They haven’t got enough cash or a cheque book. Do you:

  • Tell them where the nearest ATM is?
  • Ask them to post you a cheque?
  • Take a payment by card?

News yesterday that that the UK might ditch the penny coin, swiftly followed by a kind of promise that we won’t.  But we kind of will won’t we, because we are using cash so much less, and contactless is so easy…..

I don’t keep pennies anymore, they all go straight into the charity tin next to the till. I can’t think of any other use for them, they are heavy, they don’t buy anything, why keep them. Well the charities will be sorry to see them go, but even for them the value in a full collecting tin is minimal.

For small businesses though the difficulty is to collect payment without the cost of card readers and merchant accounts. Nobody offers this free to business but there are a few suppliers of card readers that don’t need a merchant account. Square-up, Stripe, iZettle and Sumup charge between 1.4% to 1.7%. there don’t appear to be any other charges, but they hang on to your funds for a couple of days so presumably they make money from investing those funds.

Banks tend to charge  a flat monthly fee for current accounts for small businesses, ranging from £5 upwards, but they also charge for cash or cheque payments, with the exception of Santander which charges £20 fixed monthly

fee.  If you pay in £500 in cash you will pay anything from £1.50 to £5.00, and if you pay in 5 cheques you would be charged from £1.50 to £3.00. Using a card reader this would be around £7.50.

 

Beating the Beast From The East

Roughton in the snow

It’s beautiful but….

I guess we are all a little tired of hearing about the beast now but I must bring your attention to our heroic team, who made it here through thick and thicker.

Emma, Jackie, Michelle, Denise and Sue (who was actually on a day off!) made it here and manned the phones for all our clients on Wednesday and Thursday last week. Jean and Nicki worked from home, Jean was monitoring voicemail. It was impossible to get here by car bus or train so the rest of us just didn’t make it.

Many of you wrote in to show your appreciation of their effort and we really do thank you for that.

Is there a growing trend towards missed bookings?

missed-bookings

missed bookings mean lost income

I’m wondering because I read a newspaper article on missed bookings in restaurants, and one of the points they made was that it only takes one table of five to not turn up and they have lost their profit margin. The implication of the article was that missed bookings are a trend and it’s not just bad manners, it really matters to small businesses.

I wonder if this is also happening in private healthcare services, such as the ones that our clients supply. A customer who fails to turn up for a booking means lost income, (and a waste of time, you generally wait a bit and then its too late to get on with anything before the next customer arrives). We don’t “see” at this end, whether customers turn up so we can’t tell if this a big problem. We always remind customers routinely that they should give at least 24 hours notice of a cancellation, and several clients get the customer to sign an acknowledgement of this. But its no good if this is the first appointment, (see my blog on young men time wasters).
So my question is – Is this an increasing problem? Are the public more inclined to book something and then drop it?

If you think this is a problem there are several solutions:

  • reminder texts and emails
  • reminder calls
  • prepayment by credit card. (At least you don’t lose income)

Several of our clients have mentioned it and requested we take a prepayment deposit or full fee. Contact us if you’d like further information on any of these.

 

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