We do a lot of service repair work. Customers call us and we schedule appointments. We have the following policy:
- More than 24 hours notice - no charge.
- Fewer than 24 hours notice - 50% of the service price will be charged.
- Cancelation the day of service - 100% of the service price will be charged.
When a customer schedules a job we tell them the cancellation policy on the phone and we tell them to review it on our website at a specific address as well. Over the past five years we've only had a few cancellations and people have happily complied.
However, the past week we’ve had the bad luck of having five cancellations. Two of the cancellations were before our 24 hour period but the last three were during it. One of the three we rescheduled, but the last second has given us a very hard time when we restate the policy and request either full payment or the 50% payment. By the way each states that they did try calling but no one picked up the phone. I find this to be false because our phones route to a call center for scheduling if someone in the office does not pick up after the third ring. Plus after reviewing call logs on all of our phone numbers, there is no indication of their call.
I decided to not stick to our guns and our policy and just forgive the balance owed us as a gesture of good will and to diffuse the anger spewing from these folks. We aren't desperate for money but I feel like I'm setting a bad precedent. I don't want to continue to forgive balances so my question is this: How does one enforce a cancellation policy? Our services are small ticket items but five lost jobs quickly add up to 2k or more.
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor J:
How do you even know what the service price would have been? Is the price for the service agreed upon when the customer calls to schedule the appointment, before any of your technicians have even seen the problem firsthand? If that price wasn't clearly defined then your policy is illegitimate because you're essentially demanding a blank check.
I also think you might be overreaching by demanding a cancellation fee of hundreds of dollars ($2k/5=$400) for work you haven't done. Unless you are doing very specialized work and have no local competitors, it's hard to imagine you have that sort of market power; you'd just end up driving your customers to the competition. Instead, you might consider a much more modest policy such as a fixed $50 cancellation fee - enough to dissuade customers from canceling in most situations.