The other day I received a phone call from a school. It was rare free Saturday morning and I was just pottering around in the garden when the phone rang. We don’t guarantee to always answer the phone out of normal office hours, but they are always diverted to a mobile on the basis that our customers don’t necessarily keep regular office hours, so neither should we. Anyway the phone rang and so I answered it. On the other end a rather distraught lady opened by saying she was surprised I had answered the phone.
Anyway to cut a long story short it turned out she was having trouble cancelling a recording she had booked without realising. However, it quickly transpired the recording had not been booked with Recordings 4 Schools. Nor indeed was it via any of our other website which fall under the umbrella of 4 Part Music.
Obviously it would be wrong of me to start naming names and commenting on the policy of one of our competitors. That would be extremely unprofessional and it is not how we like to do things. Nevertheless I was concerned to find this poor lady, a part time music teacher, was apparently going to be charged hundreds of pounds for cancelling a booking she hadn’t meant to make. She was apparently referred to some small print which advised people of this policy.
Without the facts of the incident I cannot comment further but regardless of this it prompted me to review our procedure and policies on cancellations and how we deal with customers.
Looking after the customer
Regardless of any legal jargon, business contracts and the like, we prefer to take the position the most important element of doing business is looking after the customer. And by customer in this instance, we don’t just mean the entity of the school or choir, but the person actually on the phone or end of the email. Looking after our customers, entering into dialogue with them and understanding what they want or need has always been our priority. To me, it is just good old fashioned customer service.
If someone books a recording with us, either by calling on the telephone or filling in an online form, the first thing we do is send an email. This confirms the date, the name of the school and tells you how the recording session will work. We also confirm what time we will arrive, all the costs which apply and, hopefully, clearly set out everything the customer needs to know. Technically a lawyer would say this is a contract. But this is isn’t really the point. Our concern is to make it absolutely clear what we are going to do, when we are going to do it and how much we will charge.
Inevitably, from time to time, things don’t always pan out the way you expect or hope. Generally speaking schools either tend to book weeks and months in advance when they are planning their timetable for the term, or they call us last minute to see if we can come and record in a few days time. In the main however, most recordings are booked a good 2 or 3 months in advance. This is the point we then confirm the deal in writing as stated above. Our confirmation email then states we will be in touch again before the recording session to firm up details of arrival etc.
This we usually do about 7-10 days or so before the recording session, assuming we haven’t heard anything to the contrary. In the majority of cases we get everything reconfirmed, answer any questions and discuss the plan for arriving (usually around 07.30 in the morning).
The Legal Bit
Now obviously, as a limited company and professional business we do have terms and conditions to set out what happens in the event of cancellation. For complete transparency I have produced the relevant terms below:
10.3 Cancelled sessions (after confirmation) are subject to the following charges if The Company have been unable to fill the time with alternate bookings:
- 25% of balance payable if cancelled within 72 hours of session date.
- 50% of balance payable if cancelled within 48 hours of session date.
- 100% of balance payable if cancelled within 24 hours of session date.
10.4 For the purpose of 10.3 a Session is defined as costing £500.
10.5 To minimise risk for The Customer set out in 10.3, a representative of The Company will always contact the Customer by telephone and / or electronic communication to re confirm the booking at least 7 – 10 days prior to the recording date.
However, so far, we have never implemented this term or charged a cancellation fee. Mostly this is because we always double check everything is confirmed in advance. The legal term is in place simply to protect us in the event of a very late cancellation i.e within the previous 72 hours to the session date / time. The reason for this is that we will have made plans, booked hotels and in the worst case scenario driven hundreds of miles to arrive at your school by 07.30am.
We have no wish to charge for work not done, and are only too aware that schools do not have money to waste. Good communication is key. Obviously we don’t want anyone to cancel recordings which have been booked. Regardless of the terms above, when someone books a session we make the date unavailable via our online calendar. And so, if that recording is later cancelled we never know if someone else might have booked the same date in the meantime. Nevertheless, that is a risk you take when running a business.
We believe that customers deserve to be treated fairly. Looking after our customers is always a top priority. In return we like to think our clients will do the same back. You can have all the lawyers and contracts in the world, but ultimately doing business is about gaining a mutual understanding of the job requirements, and keeping your promises.
To find out just how easy it is to book a recording with Recordings 4 Schools please give us a call today on 01225 302143 or click here to send us an email