Over the years this has been a contentious issue here at BCA Debt. The reason why is because when a business charges a customer for a missed appointment, they usually refuse to pay and it ends up in all sorts of arguments.
Understandably if you are running a business and you set aside time for a customer or patient for a consultation and they do not turn up you have lost time and money.
However putting the boot on the other foot, a customer or patient who does not show up for an appointment has not received the services but is now being charged. They tend to become quite irate at the business for charging them and saying that a debt is due for collection.
The only way to solve this problem is to be very clear with all customers when they make appointments that you have a policy on charging for missed appointments. This policy then needs to be a clause in your terms and conditions and should outline exactly what the procedure is if a customer misses an appointment.
According to the Department of Commerce (Fair Trading), their directive is that customers must be told at the time of booking the appointment they will be charged if they miss it and what the cost will be. They also state that it should be a fair and reasonable fee along with giving the customer the opportunity to make another appointment without being charged.
Make it policy in your business that when an appointment is made that your staff speak directly to the person whom the appointment is for, giving them the information verbally, then ensuring they understand.
It is also very important the on registration all customers have a copy of your terms and conditions and that this is signed.
Things to be aware of:
- If your business makes appointments on behalf of customers from a referral, ensure that you speak directly to the customer and explain the policy.
- When sending SMS reminders, ensure that the SMS has clear instructions on how to confirm the appointment and that there is a missed appointment policy.
- Check to see if your SMS system has the facility for customers to reply to it. If not this can be very confusing. Ensure step 2 is in place.
- It is possibly a better policy to have a representative to call customers the day before to confirm, particularly if your SMS facility has no reply capability.