TOPIC: What are your cancellation policies and procedures? What circumstances or exceptions do you make when clients are a no-show and why?Our normal cancellation policy for local trips is two hours. However, there are exceptions, including whether the chauffeur’s in route, uncontrollable flight issues, or client status.
When it comes to no-shows, I charge full rate. For a no-show, the least I will consider charging is cost incurred. The clients are informed of possible cancellation charges when the reservations are taken. I will be as fair with the client as they will let me. Niceness on both sides goes a long way.
Gary Arndt, Owner
A Limousine Service in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Our standard cancellation policy requires a 24-hour notice that can be reduced to six hours if the service would run from 10 a.m. through 10 p.m. in the city and/or adjacent airport. For reservations that require specific planning and/or luxury vehicles, we require a 48-hour notice.
Short-notice cancellations and/or a no-show result in the full charge; with a multi-day trip, the client is only charged for the first day. If the client misses or changes his flight or could not locate his driver, he should immediately contact us; no contact results in a no-show, which carries a full charge.
We have a written policy included in our tariffs. With partners who do not book regularly, we always provide a reminder of our cancellation policy along with the rate in a confirmation email.
Marina Brugnaro, Sales & Affiliate Relations Manager
New International Limo in Venezia, Italy
It’s natural to make exceptions for bigger clients; however, every experience is important, so we try not to charge a penalty. Once you make a concession to a client, they’re usually yours for life and will refer others. If a client has an account with us, we extend a two-hour cancellation policy for sedans and SUVs. Our main criterion for deciding to charge the client is whether the chauffeur is in route.
For retail clients, we have a 24-hour cancellation policy, which is flexible. For example, if the client canceled but rebooked, we won’t charge a penalty if the chauffeur did not leave. For bigger vehicles, we ask 72 hours to seven days because of limited availability and higher ticket prices, so we want avoid a cancellation—especially with an affiliate’s vehicle. We send the cancellation policy in the confirmation email, and communicate the policy over the phone, which is recorded.
So far, we have a very low rate of cancellation and our policies ensure that we get paid on time or in advance for bus work.
Vadim Dashuta, COO
Reserve Limo in Los Angeles, Calif.
This is a tricky question to answer and even trickier policy to uphold. Our sedan and SUV cancellation policy is a two-hour notice for all local airport transfers and four-hour notice for all affiliate (out-of-town) airport transfers. However, we understand that business travelers change their plans at the last minute, so we try to be as flexible as possible. More often than not, we waive our full cancellation fee for long-time clients.
Hourly/charter runs in sedans or SUVs require a 24-hour notice and specialty vehicles require a 48-hour notice. Special events require a seven-day notice. Client no-shows are charged the full rate. Occasionally, we will waive a no-show fee to assist the booker who forgot to call and cancel. However, with no-show runs, real expenses are incurred, so we are less lenient.
Eric Devlin, President
Premier Transportation in Dallas, Texas
Reservations may be canceled 14 days in advance with a full refund. After that, there is no penalty but the deposit is not refunded—though it may be used toward future reservations. And if there’s less than 12 hours’ notice, the client’s deposit is completely forfeited.
There’s a fine line between “the customer is always right” and running a profitable business.
Bill Goerl, President
Clique Limousine Service in Bay Shores, N.Y.
We have a two-hour cancellation policy for local pickups and a five-hour window for international. Minibuses require a five-hour notice and motorcoaches require 24 hours. If a vehicle is canceled after the window, we charge the minimum transfer rate applicable to the pickup area.
Cancellations due to flights can be difficult, as many flights into LA are one-hour flights. We still charge the Greater LA transfer rate for a late cancel, which ranges from a base rate of $82 to $205, depending on the vehicle.
We have very little pushback from customers as I think our terms are fair. Of course, we will give a “courtesy comp” on a late cancel to help save the booker if there’s a mistake.
Chris Hundley, CEO
Limousine Connection in Los Angeles, Calif.
Our cancellation policy is two hours for a normal vehicle and five days for a specialty vehicle. We normally charge the minimum number of hours if a local order is canceled, but will charge actual hours if we have sent the vehicle out of town.
We always help with a hardship and are sympathetic to travel disasters as long as clients let us know. Even with bus orders, we will help if an event is rained out—it is better to take a small hit than to be rigid with rules when no one’s at fault.
Our policy is written and is shown on confirmations. For specialty orders, there is a contract and the cancellation policy is noted both in writing and verbally. We also help people avoid accidental no-shows (by them and the chauffeur), by calling five days in advance of the order, or the day prior if booked within less than five days’ notice.
George Jacobs, President
Windy City Transportation in Chicago, Ill.
We require a two-hour notice for any trip in the U.S. and Canada, and 24 hours for international trips; this is communicated at the bottom of our confirmation emails. We charge the base fare on all late cancellations, and we charge the same penalty for no-shows. But there are exceptions to these policies based on the circumstance and the customer. The most common excuse we hear from customers is that they say they called us but waited on hold for too long and didn’t see the driver; therefore, they made their own arrangements. Often we go back into our call logs and find no record of them ever calling us, which puts us in a precarious situation because the customer is “always right.”
Jeff Nyikos, President
Leros Point to Point in Hawthorne, N.Y.
With most trips, the client must provide two hours’ notice, or five hours for larger vehicles. In the case of multiple vehicles, we negotiate on a case-by-case basis and usually require a 50-percent minimum deposit, which will be forfeited if the negotiated terms are not met.
We never assume that a no-show or late cancellation is billable without an investigation. Our policy is to wait at least 30 minutes after the pickup time before calling it a “no-show.” During this period, we try contacting the client in several ways. If we can’t reach them, an “incident” is then placed in our system for customer service to investigate. If we’re at fault, we apologize and determine if the client has a reservation for a different date and time. If the client is at fault, we listen to their side of the story and cooperate to formulate a determination that respects both parties. The long-term value of the client far outweighs the costs of a single error.
Stuart Rothstein, CEO and President
SmartCars in Schiller Park, Ill.
For corporate clients, all trips have a two-hour cancellation period with no penalty. There is an exception if the pickup is outside the local market and the vehicle needs to be dispatched prior to the normal cancellation period.
For motorcoaches or tours, trips canceled between 15 and 30 days before departure will incur a $100 charge for each charter day. Trips canceled fewer than 15 days prior will incur a fee of 50 percent the charter amount.
Most of our cancellation policies have been enacted for several years and we rarely deviate from them, but every circumstance is different and we evaluate each one. Did we lose revenue with the cancellation or can we still re-book and make it back up? Or how much business has the client done or will do with us? Our retail/leisure clients love writing reviews and sharing their thoughts, so we have to determine whether we stick to the policy and risk a bad review or refund the deposit and move on.
Jonathan Snavely, VP of Marketing & Business Development
Premiere #1 Limousine Service in Middletown, Pa.
Our cancellation/change policy is two hours prior to the reservation for any trip in our market, or four hours outside of New Jersey. Specialty vehicles require up to 72 hours’ notice and reservations outside of North America need a 48-hour notice. The full charge applies to all cancellations made after the window. This is noted on the bottom of the confirmation sent to clients.
An exception is made if a client’s flight is delayed or canceled; we watch the arrival time and rarely send a car if the flight isn’t airborne. Occasionally, we do get caught if the flight time is shorter than our drive time to the airport, but we have no choice other than taking a chance.
We base concessions on many factors with last-minute changes. Sometimes we get a late cancellation where the client states that he is aware of our policy, but asks if we can help. When this happens, we look at the relationship to determine if we let it slide or if we only charge lost costs.
There are times when someone is too sick to travel and cancels the trip, and we will process without a charge. This is met positively by customers, who often show their appreciation by rescheduling when they are well.
Jonathan Wilner, President
A. Harrington Limousine Service in Edison, N.J.
Basically, our cancellation policy is based on common courtesy. If we lost out on the opportunity to book other business in that vehicle, then we have no choice but to hold the client responsible. If it’s an airport ride, we usually allow a cancellation within two hours with no penalty. It’s a matter of whether or not the vehicle was in route to the pickup. If the vehicle was on its way, then the chauffeur needs to be paid, and we need to be compensated for our fuel as well as the wear and tear on the vehicle.
Retail work in bigger vehicles is a whole different animal. And keeping with the same principle of common courtesy, we take a deposit to secure the reservation and prevent the vehicle from being booked. As such, that deposit is always nonrefundable should the client cancel. If we are able to re-book the vehicle once it is canceled, then we will gladly transfer the deposit to a future reservation. However, if we are unable to re-book the vehicle, the client forfeits the deposit.
Robert Xavier, CEO
Legends Limousine in Smithtown, N.Y.
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