About those pesky "Cancellation Fees"

Happy Wednesday Morning Fellow Humans! 

About those pesky "Cancellation Fees" 

Have you ever been charged for an appointment that you couldn't make? Has it made you angry, frustrated or disappointed? Have you ever wondered, WHY ME? and silently cursed your acupuncturist, massage therapist or hair stylist for charging you? 

Photo by PIKSEL/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by PIKSEL/iStock / Getty Images


I know that I have.  It has always chapped my ass, when I have to pay for something I didn't receive.  Don't people know that I couldn't control why I wasn't there, that it wasn't my fault, that if I could have made it I would have! Why can't they just let me off the hook this time?!?!?!?!  

This frustration is real.  I get it.  And....let's have a little talk about those annoying fees. 

Until I was a bodyworker, and independent business owner, it was hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that they were charging me for a missed appointment.  And frankly sometimes it pissed me off.  I want to take a moment to help you understand why it happens, and the reasons behind cancellation fees.  Not from a place of judgement, or anger, or in an attempt to shame you as a possible client who may not show up for your appointment one day.  Simply, so you can understand why we do it as practitioners.  Here are a couple common responses I get when charging a cancellation fee, and a brief explanation of why I can't waive it, even though I feel your pain. 

Reason #1

"Can't you just offer my appointment time to another client???"

Sure! We can offer that appointment to another client.  Unfortunately however, people are super busy in this day and age.  Our days are packed with appointments, commitments, and ugh....laundry.  Even 2 days out, a lot of folks just can't rearrange their schedules to  make a last minute appointment opportunity.  So even though there may be a client who wants to come in for your scheduled appointment time that you can't make, for whatever reason, they might just not be able to squeeze it into their already packed schedule.  Leaving a client who needed work, and could have come in with a week or two to plan, unable to get the therapy they need, and us, as the practitioner,  with a hole in our day, where we could have, but, are now unable to help another client who desperately needed it.   

Reason #2

"I can't afford to pay for the session, that I am not receiving, I'M BROKE." 

This one hits my heart strings.  I know how hard it is to budget for bodywork, especially since it's usually not covered by insurance.  The act of paying for bodywork, or massage is a true act of self love for most of us, and it can be frustrating to have to pay for it out of pocket...and not actually get the work.  For us, as the practitioner, this is such a hard one to respond to, as we often just want to help our clients.  What makes it a necessity for us to hold to the cancellation fee, and charge you as the client, is that we are often self employed or we are independent contractors. Our bills get paid from the sessions we have on our books.  We buy our groceries, pay our rent and pay for our own bodywork with those funds.  And when we have a scheduled appointment with you, and know that we will be paid for our work, we count on that money to support ourselves.  When a scheduled appointment gets cancelled last minute, we lose that money to support ourselves with.  If we don't charge you the cancellation fee, to pay for our time, it could mean less food on the table, or our mortgage is late.  So, unfortunately, we have to get paid for our time, even though we often feel bad sticking to the policy, we just have to....or we may struggle financially to support ourselves or families. 


Please know that we CARE about you as our client. 

AND, we need you to remember these few things when booking or canceling an appointment with us. 

  1. Booking an appointment with us is a commitment to your OWN self care! You are choosing to do something that will benefit you, and we hope that you will keep that appointment as an act of self love!

  2. Booking an appointment with us is also a commitment to US as practitioners.  That you are going to pay us for our time, and that you value our time and the quality of our work. 

  3. We understand that life happens, is busy, and complicated and messy sometimes.  That's why we allow cancellations with NO FEES within a range of 24 to 48 hours for most practitioners. 

  4. We don't ever take your cancellation PERSONALLY.  (At least we shouldn't.) And we hope that you don't take our cancellation policies and fees personally.  IT'S BUSINESS, NOT PERSONAL.

  5. We aren't heartless.  If you have a death, illness or legitimate emergency, and you normally show respect for our time, we are most likely going to offer grace and compassion, and most likely, will waive that fee.  

  6. Don't abuse our KINDNESS.  If we waive your cancellation fee once, (Which I almost always do, give people at least one free pass....) please don't expect us to do it again.  And, if we don't, and we charge you...don't take it personally.  

  7. We are touched when you offer to pay the fee as you are in the act of canceling last minute.  Seriously, this is one of the most touching things that I experience as a practitioner.  I have a client who has had to cancel the day of her appointment multiple times, and she ALWAYS lets me know she will pay for the session.  I feel so respected and valued by this client, I would move MOUNTAINS to get her in when she is in pain.  For serious...I will come in on my days off, or after hours for this woman.  Because I KNOW I am valued by her.  

"Time is the coin of your life. You Spend it. Do not allow others to spend it for you."

~Carl Sandberg

I hope this helps you understand better why those pesky cancellation fees are a "thing." They are never fun, they are frustrating, and no one likes them.  And, hopefully now, you at least understand them a little bit better. 


Dina Robitaille, Vox Bodyworks