I get this question a lot as a massage therapist I thought it might be a good opportunity for me to explain why so many massage therapist or spa’s require credit cards to “hold” appointments. This has been a long-standing practice in the industry for a number of reasons but the outrage over the long-standing policy is new and I want to clarify to help people understand what's going on here. Many customers assume that the reason for this policy is to charge customers without their consent. Many people also believe that this policy is meant to charge customers for services and products at their direction which does not allow them to have the opportunity to say no to an individual charge for service if they disagree with the management of the company. To put it plainly the perception tends to be that they are going to be putting all the cards on the table as a customer and not have any leverage when it comes to disagreements with members of management or therapist.
So let's talk about this in detail for to help people understand the true nature of the policy from case management perspective. If you were to order an airline ticket there are several different pricing mechanisms in place in order to calculate your price to be on a particular airline in a particular flight out of particular day for a particular period of time. The general public has come to except that they will need to pay to reserve their seat on the plane prior to boarding the plane and many people also understand the system to help control cost of tickets and people booking bands usually have a discussion over some of the tickets to go the same day. You want essence giving up control to the airline to decide when where and how to get you to your destination because that's what your contract with them states on the ticket. Many people have chosen to accept this and will happily pay the airlines in exchange for their services. If you don't show up for your flight you lose the cost of your ticket and they have the right to resell that ticket to someone else.
So let's like take a look at this from a management or therapist perspective. The therapist has open time which you would like to reserve of which they have to take up space within a spot for their own practice in order to see you. This is exactly the same as book an airline ticket there needs to be a crew available the plane to take you where you want to go at the time that everyone is available. If you do not show up for your flight you forfeit the cost of your ticket if you don't show up you don’t go and your out the cost of the ticket. Basically for a massage therapist who works privately they miss that time too but they are already there and don’t normally have someone there to “take your seat”. Unlike the airlines many of these who are willing to be upfront and customer service friendly might not charge you until the day of the appointment because many cancellation polices specify that you cannot cancel within 24 hours of your final time because it will be hard to refill that time and space. This is contrary to how the airlines operated in which you pay and you're going to go in the cancellation of your ticket will result in a penalty. Many spies a very policies on cancellations within 24 hours of your appointment and not showing up to your clinic without contacting them. I cannot tell you how many times I've heard customers complain to management that they are being treated unfairly that the true cost and expense called me and canceled the appointment because the service never happened is significantly lower than what is being charged. The simple answer is that if the company is willing to set aside time space and personnel for your appointment and you choose not to attend or cancel within 24 hours is very hard to recover those costs therefore company and the therapist lose income as a result.
My policies at present time do changes customers a $20 fee if you call and cancel your appointment within 24 hours without some kind of an emergency or if you do not show up to your appointment and do not contact me. This is substantially reduced charge and gets paid on account which means that if you attempt to rebook another appointment and do not pay before the start of that service you will not be doing business with me any longer because it shows disrespect to my business and my time. I will tell the serving public that as a consumer I do understand the fear of losing control of your method of payment prior to the service beginning because being afraid of being charge for things you don't agree with. As a merchant I could tell you that credit card companies will not get involved in disagreements between customers and venders.
As a customer I've had disputes with merchants who have taken my credit card information and charged things to my account.There are legal means in order to handle such cases. Good customer service begins with treating people how you wish to be treated. I don't use contracts I use common sense, I hope people understand that though I may not take credit cards to book appointments upfront I will enforce my policies in order to make things fair between the merchant and the customer.