And Why Clients Shouldn’t Ask
As a business owner and service provider, I can confidently say that maintaining a fair and consistent approach to our cancellation policies is crucial for the smooth operation of our businesses. While it may be tempting to make exceptions on a case-by-case basis, and to ask for them, deviating from established cancellation policies can create a range of challenges and undermine the integrity of our services.
Cancellation policies serve as essential guidelines for service providers, ensuring fair and consistent business practices and it is important to critically analyze the potential biases that can arise when clients request exceptions to these policies. In this blog post, we will explore how seeking exceptions to cancellation policies can perpetuate sexism, classism, and racism, further deepening existing inequalities within our society and demonstrate the importance of upholding cancellation policies and the benefits it brings to both service providers and clients.
Ensures Fairness and Consistency:
Cancellation policies exist to protect the interests of service providers and maintain a fair business environment. By adhering to established policies without exceptions, service providers ensure that all clients are treated equally. Making exceptions on a selective basis can lead to perceptions of favoritism, breed resentment among other clients, and erode trust in the fairness of our services. Consistency in policy enforcement promotes transparency, professionalism, and overall customer satisfaction.
Protects Revenue and Business Viability:
Cancellation policies are designed to safeguard the financial stability of service providers. By establishing clear guidelines, service providers can protect their livelihoods while maintaining a viable business model for their employers and coworkers. Exceptions to cancellation policies can result in lost income, disrupt scheduling, and create inefficiencies that impact the ability to provide quality services. Consistently enforcing cancellation policies helps mitigate financial risks and allows service providers to thrive vs survive economically. We know that when women get paid bread winning wages, our whole community benefits. If a client cancels and they do not give the provider enough advanced notice, then that provider will miss out on their wages and cannot make that up. This compounds as multiple cancellations arise per week. Clients looking for open appointments will typically not log back in if they don’t see the times they want, now will they utilize the waitlist, as they typically just book service times further out on their calendars when no last minute openings are available. Clients also learn that they can’t bet on a last minute openings, so in order to ensure they maintain their treatments, they make a habit out of booking in advance so there are far less last minute bookers than those seeking to cancel last minute. Since most of our services are booked in a series, clients are not flexible with their treatment schedule.
Encourages Accountability and Respect:
Cancellation policies play a crucial role in fostering a culture of accountability and mutual respect between service providers and clients. By enforcing policies without exceptions, service providers communicate the value of their time, expertise, and commitment. Clients, in turn, are more likely to honor their appointments, respect the provider’s schedule, and appreciate the professionalism demonstrated. Upholding cancellation policies encourages responsible behavior, reinforces professional boundaries, and sets a positive tone for client interactions.
Sexism in Requesting Exceptions:
Sexism can manifest when clients, consciously or unconsciously, expect special treatment or exceptions to cancellation policies based on gender. Stereotypes that view women as more emotional or accommodating can lead to women facing additional pressure or scrutiny when requesting exceptions, potentially reinforcing gender-based biases. This perpetuates the notion that women should prioritize others’ needs over their own and reinforces existing gender inequalities.
Classism and Financial Privilege:
Requesting exceptions to cancellation policies can inadvertently perpetuate classism and favor those with financial privilege. Clients who are financially secure may be more inclined to ask for leniency, placing service providers in difficult positions. This can disadvantage service providers who rely on steady income to support themselves or their businesses. It reinforces an unequal power dynamic where those with financial advantages have more influence over service providers’ livelihoods, exacerbating existing socioeconomic disparities.
Racism and Differential Treatment:
Racism can come into play when clients of different racial backgrounds expect disparate treatment regarding cancellation policies. Implicit biases and stereotypes can influence clients’ perceptions of fairness, leading to differential treatment based on race. Service providers who are more susceptible to these biases may inadvertently grant exceptions or apply cancellation policies unevenly, perpetuating systemic racism and further marginalizing individuals from racial minority groups.
Promotes a Culture of Mutual Understanding:
Upholding cancellation policies fosters a culture of mutual understanding between service providers and clients. By setting clear expectations and communicating cancellation policies from the outset, service providers help clients appreciate the value of their time and the importance of honoring commitments. It encourages clients to plan their schedules responsibly and make informed decisions about their appointments. This mutual understanding builds a foundation of respect and professionalism that strengthens the service-provider-client relationship.
Impact on Marginalized Communities:
Requesting exceptions to cancellation policies can disproportionately impact marginalized communities, including women, people of color, and individuals with lower incomes. These communities may face additional challenges when seeking exceptions due to societal biases and limited resources. Stricter enforcement of cancellation policies in these instances can exacerbate existing inequalities, reinforcing systemic barriers that hinder their access to services and opportunities.
Equal Treatment and Inclusion:
To combat sexism, classism, and racism within the context of cancellation policies, it is crucial to promote equal treatment and foster an inclusive environment. Service providers should strive to apply policies consistently and fairly, regardless of gender, socioeconomic status, or race. Establishing transparent guidelines and communicating them clearly to all clients promotes accountability, reduces bias, and ensures a level playing field for everyone. This goes for clients treatment of service providers and small business owners. No employee should be made to feel unsafe when enforcing a policy the client agreed to in advance.
Supports Time Management and Efficiency:
Cancellation policies are vital for effective time management and operational efficiency. Service providers rely on accurate scheduling to optimize their productivity and provide quality service to clients. By adhering to cancellation policies, service providers can minimize disruptions and maximize the utilization of their time and resources. This commitment to efficiency benefits both service providers and clients, as it ensures a seamless experience and allows for reliable planning and delivery of services.
Alternatives to Cancellation Policies
The only way to get around cancellation policies is to raise prices for everyone at least 30%, but we can’t compete as a small business at those prices, especially when we guarantee living wages (unlike the majority of spas who pay low wages plus optional tip). Something has to give and I think we can agree that working class women’s wages are not negotiable and they should not be expected to forgo their paycheck whenever a client has an unforeseen conflict. There is never a case where the customer isn’t legally obligated to pay their bill because they had an unforeseen circumstance, and service providers are not an exception. Accountability for the customer is the only fair and ethical solution, and it’s not too much to ask that clients honor the contracts they sign without abuse such as arguing, threatening, manipulation and demanding the providers time and energy.
Requesting exceptions to cancellation policies can inadvertently perpetuate sexism, classism, and racism, reinforcing existing inequalities within our society. Recognizing these biases and their impact is essential for service providers to foster inclusive and equitable practices. By promoting equal treatment, enforcing policies consistently, and challenging systemic biases, service providers can create a more inclusive environment that contributes to dismantling sexism, classism, and racism, ultimately fostering a fairer and more just society.
Consistency in enforcing cancellation policies is essential for service providers and business owners to maintain fairness, financial stability, accountability, and efficiency in their businesses. By upholding these policies without exceptions, service providers create a transparent and professional environment that fosters trust and respect between providers and clients. Emphasizing the importance of adhering to cancellation policies benefits both parties and contributes to the overall success and reputation of the service industry.
Thank you for your time, your willingness to educate yourself and for supporting ethical female owned and operated businesses. We are proud to fight for working women and to do our part to create a better business for our clients and our staff.
Women’s Law Center (NWLC)
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR)