Saturday, June 21, 2008

Tutoring Lessons

Yesterday at 3 o'clock I had an appointment with a parent about lessons for his daughter. At 4 o'clock he called to say he would be at my office at 4:30. He finally showed up at 5. We talked about the school and his daugter's problems with math for about 40 minutes, before he finally decided that he would have to think about it.

Now it was nearly 6 o'clock and I had to rush home, shave, shower, and change so that I could rush back to my office to set up for the ESL in North York meeting at 7. All because of a 3 o'clock appointment.... (Of course, the subway was shut down from Bloor to Eglinton, causing everyone to come late, but I didn't know that at the time.)

This reminded me of Dont Answer. He was a gentleman who contacted me last March, asking for help with his English. He made appointment after appointment to come to my office to see me, not showing up each time until he finally appeared 2 hours late on the 5th occasion. Despite the fact I was in class at the time, I spent over half an hour to make arrangements for him to come in on Monday evenings for private English lessons. (You can probably guess where this is heading.)

Sure enough, the next Monday night he didn't show up for his first scheduled class. I called him that night and the next morning, but there was no answer. I chalked it up to a lesson learned: When someone is in the office and books a class, get the payment right away. Then, if they miss the first class I'll still get paid for my preparation & time.

But I hadn't heard the last of Dont Answer. Around 11 o'clock the following Sunday night he called to say he was coming to the lesson the next day. I asked him why he had missed the first lesson, & he told me he'd had "something to do." Once again, I was very accomodating, and told him I expected full payment for the next month of classes before the start of the lesson and that if he couldn't make it, to please call me.

"Yes, yes, yes," he said, but the next day was an exact repeat of the previous Monday. So, it was with some surprise, that I received a call from him the next Sunday telling me he still wanted lessons. At this point, I'd had enough, and told him as politely as possible, that I wouldn't be able to give him lessons. He seemed unusually upset, but thought I finally got him to understand.

Until he called the next day and offered to pay for the next 2 months of classes. I told him no, and that's when the phone calls began. No matter what I told him, he called several times every day. He was like an obsessed jilted lover. After a few days, I saved his contact name as "Dont Answer." He continued to call for over 2 months.

And I learned that sometimes it's better to turn down a customer, than try to help them.

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