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Ok, I'm having a hard time responding not in anger.

Last Spring,I went online in March. I offered families online lessons, or to do video lessons and drop off materials for younger children if the parent didn't feelonline was the best option.  I extended my semester a full month before recital, which meant I added 5 free lessons, to give everyone a chance to go online. My normal policy is that I do not give makeups unless I cancel the lesson.  I had two parents who took extras, but chose not to go online, and one who never responded, not even when I asked for their address so I could drop off their daughter's recital t-shirt.

I sent out information about fall lessons,either online or in person, in June. Our semester starts tomorrow. My schedule for in person is almost full due to the need to space out lessons. 

I got this message this morning. This is the first time I have heard from this parent since March. 

"Will there be any sort of makeup lessons or prorated amount for students who were not able to complete the spring semester?"

 

I feel like I have done everything I can do, and I cannot guarantee that we will not end up online again this semester. In fact, I am kind of assuming that everyone will end up online at some point due to exposure and need to quarantine. And while I am being flexible on makeups this semester (in part because I expect to need them myself) makeups will be online-exactly the same kind of lesson as in March. But, at the same time, word of mouth is everything. And her daughter is really sweet. 

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I would assume they are asking on the idea, "if you don't ask, you don't know." I don't think they have any idea how their request is affecting you.

IMO, you swallow your anger & respond sweetly about all the things you offered in the spring and that it is very likely the classes will end up online again. I'd make sure to point out if they aren't prepared to continue lessons online that perhaps they should reconsider signing-up.

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I understand why you would want to be angry, because you bent over backwards to try to make things work in this pandemic.  However, I assume that the parent had paid for in-person lessons and was not particularly interested in online and so was not able to do lessons once things went online.  You can do whatever you want, but I do think it would be a nice gesture to do something, like bring by that recital shirt or something.  This didn't turn out like anyone thought, and good will is important.

As a perspective of a parent, and I know it's not exactly the same thing, I paid thousands for an in-person university education in the Spring, and my dd basically self-taught for online classes from March through May.  I am unhappy about it.  It's not fair.  And I have to eat the cost.  I know it's not fair for the university either, as they tried to do what they could given the circumstances.  But that's not what I paid for.

So a little kindness will go a long way.  ((hugs))

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People don't read. Seriously, no matter how many times all the information is included, there will be someone who doesn't bother reading it. This was one of my biggest pet peeves when leading an organization.

I would forward her your past emails with what Bagels wrote.

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11 minutes ago, sassenach said:

People don't read. Seriously, no matter how many times all the information is included, there will be someone who doesn't bother reading it. This was one of my biggest pet peeves when leading an organization.

I would forward her your past emails with what Bagels wrote.

This was my immediate thought as well. 

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The thing is, I tried to bring by that recital shirt and offered to do materials drop offs and video lessons back in Spring, if they didn't want to go online and do Zoom lessons. For one of my other families, I paid for a three month subscription to one of the extras we use for music listening, because she didn't have a piano at home. I tried to find something that worked for everyone. 

 

And, I have to be honest. Had she asked in June, when I first put our reopening plan out to parents who had taken lessons in Spring, I would have been inclined to try to make it work. Because I would have had time. I only had 12 students over the summer, none over the last two weeks, and I've been in and out of the center the last month figuring out my studio and my classroom to reopen. I could have done the three lessons she missed fairly easily, and it might actually have been useful in figuring out what layout and logistics works best with the two piano, more socially distant layout. 

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Just now, dmmetler said:

The thing is, I tried to bring by that recital shirt and offered to do materials drop offs and video lessons back in Spring, if they didn't want to go online and do Zoom lessons. For one of my other families, I paid for a three month subscription to one of the extras we use for music listening, because she didn't have a piano at home. I tried to find something that worked for everyone. 

 

And, I have to be honest. Had she asked in June, when I first put our reopening plan out to parents who had taken lessons in Spring, I would have been inclined to try to make it work. Because I would have had time. I only had 12 students over the summer, none over the last two weeks, and I've been in and out of the center the last month figuring out my studio and my classroom to reopen. I could have done the three lessons she missed fairly easily, and it might actually have been useful in figuring out what layout and logistics works best with the two piano, more socially distant layout. 

Don't bend over backwards for her. Just let her know that you're sorry she missed your earlier offers but you're no longer able to accommodate missed lessons from the spring. 

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11 minutes ago, sassenach said:

Don't bend over backwards for her. Just let her know that you're sorry she missed your earlier offers but you're no longer able to accommodate missed lessons from the spring. 

Agree.  You gave several options and she never even responded.  This problem is on her not you.  Be kind, but remain firm.  

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Sigh. I am sorry you are having to deal with this. People everywhere are under a lot of stress and some may even be just now feeling financially pinched after many months. 
 

I trust you have an electronic “paper” trail. I would respond with a politely worded email asking them to look back through their email queue for your previous communications on X, Y, Z dates. In a nice yet firm way affirm that they already had their chance, and that you already have a new fall schedule that cannot accommodate lessons that were missed for which you already provided makeup opportunities.  
 

Many of us have lost $$$ on cancelled summer activities. It’s a universal part of the CV experience. 

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1 hour ago, Bagels McGruffikin said:

I’d just tell them you offered that at the time and now we are in a new semester, new billing period, previous lessons won’t be refunded or prorated into the current section. Then reiterate that if a lesson is missed or cannot be done in person the same online option offered previously will be available, and that is it.
 

This. 

1 hour ago, RootAnn said:

I would assume they are asking on the idea, "if you don't ask, you don't know." I don't think they have any idea how their request is affecting you.

Roughly this, but I'm a tad more cynical in the sense that I think the parent does know makeups aren't being offered, she just hopes you will make an exception. And that they don't particularly care how their request is affecting you. 

Wow, I really am cynical today. Regardless of the parent's frame of mind, my answer would be the same: a very polite no. 

Word of mouth is important, sure, but you can't be overly appeasing out of fear of a bad review. Because don't forget that word of mouth works in more than one way: if you do the makeup lessons, and then have to go online again, this parent will cheerfully tell everyone she knows that they shouldn't accept the online option, they should just push for in person makeup lessons when you open again. Worse, if there is anyone else who didn't accept one of your options in the spring, they are going to want immediate makeup lessons as well. 

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One more thought...

One of my kids’ favorite high school level co-op teachers had a very firm policy about late work. It simply was not allowed. If you didn’t turn it in on the day due, you got a zero. Aside from a doctor’s written excuse for illness, it was nonnegotiable. 
 

This teacher also told the parents that every kid in her class would forget their assignment, most of them only once. In her experience home schoolers in general did not tend to follow form deadlines and parents were often the enablers. She felt her policy was helpful in training them for college level expectations. I agree 100%. 
 

She made her policies clearly known - parents and students signed a written acknowledgment at orientation. She also gave enough assignments and with a fair grading policy assured one missed assignment could be overcome by any attentive student. This teacher set a standard for excellence and was as a result the most respected instructor in the organization. 
 

All that to say, going forward, make your cancellation policies clearer than ever before. 

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Depending on what is involved in a make-up for this child, I would try to find options that could work without being a huge burden.  For example, could the child participate as an extra student in a class you are already giving, or watch a video of a class that already happened?  Could you offer just one virtual catch-up lesson and call it good?

I think most parents will be understanding of your constraints, but at the same time, I can understand people being behind on their personal email reading.  I know I am.  For one thing, it is just so stinking depressing when everything is about how Covid has screwed up our lives.  For another, we have learned to expect everything to change every two days.  And finally, we are overwhelmed in some areas because Covid has made us do things we didn't plan for ... whether it's school at home, more house cleaning, learning ever-changing protocols for work and social engagements, trying to procure hard-to-find essential products, ....  I have to say I haven't been the parent I wanted to be this summer.  I probably am not alone.

On the other hand, as a business owner, I have dealt with the other side too ... most clients are reasonable, but we've had some people demand that we pay them for the troubles caused by our governor's mandates.  Yes, their troubles are real, but if our small business had to reimburse every dollar of loss caused by things we can't control, it would be devastating.  We have worked out a compromise that most people have accepted.  We can't just give in to those very few who won't, because then everyone else would feel cheated.  It just stinks from all sides.

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I would play a little dumb.  Hi, great to hear from you!  I've been wondering how you are and what was going on with ___ since I hand't heard anything when I emailed about make up times in March and getting the shirt to you, or when sign up was in June    Are you getting my emails?

 

  I will venture there is no response or at least you will have more details on why you didn't hear anything and that can help you move forward.  

Edited by Truth
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Reframing this—Maybe it won’t bite so much if you think of it as a question rather than a demand.

I like the idea of playing dumb a bit as an opening approach.  It’s always interesting to see what has been going on with people, and sometimes that leads to seeing things differently.

What to actually do about it depends on what she says.  I think you can reasonably say, I offered a number of choices to finish out the shutdown, which are all completed now.  As you know, I don’t give credit for classes that students miss. I enjoy working with your daughter and would be glad to welcome her back to my studio.  Please be aware that depending on dynamic local health ordinances, lessons may end up being a mix of in person, online, or recordings.  I much prefer in person lessons, but also will be following local heath guidelines for everybody’s safety.  

You could also offer some kind of non-negotiable take it or leave it one time make up deal given the unprecedented situation, if you feel so inclined based on circumstances you hear about from her, or concern for your word of mouth reputation.  I would think through very carefully where there are others who would want/expect/deserve the same treatment, and keep things fair by offering this kind of thing to them, too.  

I’m more inclined to shut this down than anything, since your previous communications were ignored.  FWIW.  But it’s worth finding out a little more, maybe.

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I think it's just a question. I take it she's thinking of signing up for fall?  Is the answer just "no, the window for virtual make-up lessons has passed."?

I wouldn't necessarily play dumb because it could feel insincere, kwim? 

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1 hour ago, Truth said:

I would play a little dumb.  Hi, great to hear from you!  I've been wondering how you are and what was going on with ___ since I hand't heard anything when I emailed about make up times in March and getting the shirt to you, or when sign up was in June    Are you getting my emails?

I would definitely not give her the idea of saying she didn't get the emails 🙃

1 minute ago, happi duck said:

I think it's just a question. I take it she's thinking of signing up for fall?  Is the answer just "no, the window for virtual make-up lessons has passed."?

Yes. Short, sweet, and to the point. (I think the parent was actually asking for in-person lessons) 

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The spring is over and that semester is now closed out.  That's clear to me.  However, if this is normally a dependable family, you may choose to ask if there was a crisis in the spring which prevented them from responding to your emails, just to be kind.  

I did have one family ask for a refund in the spring, despite the options I offered.  I was happy to honor a prorated refund in the spring.  But I would not offer one at this late date now that I've closed out my invoices.  

Do you have an agreement for parents to sign this semester re pandemic related transitions?  The spring was a surprise.  This fall won't be -- there will be disruptions.  I think all reasonable people know that.  But that's why the paperwork... because it's never the reasonables.  😄 

   

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I would tell them that it’s good to hear from them and I hope to work with Dd soon, but the make-up opportunities that were offered during the last session do not carry over into this one. I would not ask if she’s getting your emails because she’ll say no. She’s absolutely getting your emails and just not reading them. Now that the school year is starting she’s paying attention and attempting to get her ducks in a row. You can’t be financially responsible that she tuned out all summer. 

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I have no patience for people like that. With absolutely no communication from that parent for the past five months, *and* wanting me to make special accommodations for them, I would be HIGHLY inclined to drop that student completely. The parent obviously knew you weren't doing in-person lessons, since she didn't show up on your doorstep at the regularly scheduled time in the spring. So she's aware of the steps you took to adjust and accommodate for three months. There's no reason she couldn't have contacted you before now, even if there was a personal/family crisis she could have sent a quick text to let you know.

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