Why Should I Pay for a Lesson I Haven´t Had?
The vast majority of the UK’s Approved Driving Instructors are self-employed and only earn a wage when a client pays them – just like those awful zero hour contracts which were hitting the election headlines recently, these create a number of issues.
Imagine getting ready for work in the morning, going out and paying your bus or train fare or fuel and parking fee, turning up at work on time only to be told by your employer they don´t need you today. It has cost you time and money to be there and you might have even turned down other work and missed an opportunity to have been paid by someone else. How would you feel in those circumstances?
In a similar way it is you, the client, who employs the Instructor and therefore if you fail to turn up for your lesson or you give short notice of cancellation, your Instructor doesn´t get paid.
The double-whammy is that the Instructor may well have turned someone else down for the time you have reserved and now can’t sell the lost time at such short notice. Not only does the Instructor miss out, other clients may also miss out too.
When choosing a Driving Instructor, along with excellent teaching skills and a friendly manner, no doubt you will be expecting someone with a professional attitude and someone who provides excellent customer service. Within this you would certainly expect reliability and punctuality.
Looking at it from the Instructor’s perspective, they also hope that their clients are reliable and punctual and have a good attitude and are willing to accept responsibility for their own learning and the bookings they´ve made.
If you had an instructor who consistently let you down, what would you do? I know what I´d do; I´d look for a replacement. I personally try to be as flexible as possible and understand that life often gets in the way of learning. Maybe the kids are ill, unexpected bills need to be paid, work calls you in etc or you simply haven´t budgeted well and have run out of cash until payday. This becomes obvious to an experienced Instructor as the last week in the month sees more cancellations than any other. You may even be in the middle of a confidence crisis. Whatever the reason, talk openly to your instructor and look for a solution.
Whenever possible I personally allow some flexibility by offering another lesson time within 3 working days and waive the late cancellation charge if it is attended. However, as patient and understanding as I am there’s a tipping point and in these cases I have to take everything into consideration and reluctantly part ways with clients who consistently cancel at short notice or fail to turn up.
In my experience many Instructors have a standard 48 hour or so short notice cancellation policy whereby should a client cancel within this time then the lesson fee is payable either in full or in part. There are variations in these terms so it is recommended you ask your Instructor if you´re not sure.
“Why should I pay for something I´ve not had” cried the client who failed to turn up...
You may not have attended the lesson, but you have reserved that time for yourself and yourself only. This is not dissimilar to booking a flight; a holiday; a hotel room or even a dental appointment - in fact any appointment you make and fail to attend or pay for costs someone something. Imagine the cost to the taxpayer for NHS no shows. This service is not free, it must run into ££millions.
Unlike buying goods, if you reserve a service at a particular time and you don’t turn up, you have to pay because it can´t be resold.
Sadly as consumers we all end up paying a little more to cover losses caused by other people’s actions, whether it’s for goods or services, and driving lessons are no exception. Apparently we motorists pay around £30 extra per year on our motor insurance premiums simply to cover uninsured drivers. As a consumer I don´t like the idea of paying extra to cover other people’s poor actions. This is especially the case when I’m buying goods as I know we are all paying for the losses incurred by the business through shoplifting or employee theft.
“What can be done to reward the clients who are in the majority and are reliable?”
I often extend the lesson time for clients who turn up for every lesson and who give me plenty of notice if they ever need to change an appointment. It’s a nice way of rewarding them.
What I do know from my experience is that those clients who are reliable and hard-working are the ones most likely to succeed and ultimately spend less in getting there.
Talk openly to your instructor, keep them up to date and together you will be able to avoid paying for lessons you didn´t attend and maybe even get a nice little reward.
I´ll leave you with final thought - What type of client are you?