Kinder, gentler refund policy?

Current policy: If you sign up for a class but can’t make it, there’s no refund unless it’s at least a week in advance.

This is pretty tough. It’s definitely tougher than other places in town. I registered my kid for a workshop at humane society and she didn’t want to go, I called them the day before and they happily refunded us no questions asked. It’s hard for us to stick to our refund policy sometimes, I think maybe it’s because even we know that it’s unrealistic.

Half of our students register 0-5 days in advance, with half of THOSE signing up less than 48 hours in advance. So if you drop out 48 hours in advance the odds are good that we’ll fill your spot with somebody else.

A few of our classes have instructors who buy materials for the class. I would hate for an instructor to buy 10 special kits for a make-and-take, and then have people not pay.

Some of our classes are very small. There are classes for 2-3 people max, the instructor has calculated his or her take-home pay based on the class filling up. I’d hate for people to drop out and then the instructor is spending the same two hours he had set aside, but now only teaching and getting paid for one person.

Just today, I had someone ask about a pottery class, she’s sick but someone else can take her place. We do need her friend to register but it seems fair for me to agree to this swap, so I did, and I did not ask the instructor because time is short.

We’ve also had people cancel for extremely good reasons. Death in the family, car accident on the way there, mega snow day and they’re scared to travel. If it’s a $10 class they don’t mind donating to MakeICT but many of our classes are way more than that. I know we say that MakeICT is made up of members, not “customers”, but a lot of people learn about us on facebook first so they really are customers, and they become unsatisfied customers if we’re the meanest place in town on this refund thing, and they do not turn into members.

What do you think about our refund policy? Would anyone like to work on this to propose some changes, or should we just stick to our guns?

Refund policy:

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Maybe allow the instructor to set refund policy for their classes within 7 days of the class, but refunds are required if done 7 days or more in advance of the class. Something like that takes the blame off makeict and allows wiggle room for classes that require the instructor to buy materials.

Unfortunately, experience has shown that our previous lax policy led to a lot of abuse, with too many folks just signing up and leaving the instructor holding the bag. Perhaps a cancellation fee that isn’t the entire cost of the class? I do know that if there are no consequences to cancelling, it is taken as an invitation to not worry about showing up.


I have offered the kit if they couldn’t make it. Like “catch me at the space and I’ll give you your kit and if I have time some directions” I think of it as I sold a kit and they didn’t show up for the explanation.

Of course it can be challenging to catch me at the space.

What would you guys think about a 48 hour deadline, instead of 72 days? That’d keep people from shrugging and just “eh I don’t feel like it”.

What about car accidents/funerals/tornado warnings/got the swine flu?

I kinda like 72 days :grin:


Hmm… thats a hard one.
I have held a couple of classes that were very poorly attended that were free (no penalty at all makes it easy to miss a class.)

I had to miss a class earlier this year because I was really too sick to get out of bed… but I didn’t ask for a refund for that one. (Although, if another one appeared on the schedule, I might ask if I could sit in. :slight_smile: )
Also, I think we have a bit of an issue if someone chooses to pay by putting money in the box and just doesn’t show up or put money in the box, right?

Someone should make a payment kiosk


It’s difficult to let the instructors set it individually becase you cause more problems with what people see as inconsistancy. I’m fine with a shorter time if all the instructors agree. I hope to have all the instructors together on April 4th.

I think we should leave it the way it is, but allow those who miss the class to sit in the next one offered free of charge.


I have taught classes that required gathering lots of supplies and consequently the instructor (me) incurs those costs regardless of attendance. That is entirely different from an instructor that has no cost in the class except their time. There are lots of variables considering the wide range of classes and instructors at Makeict.

If people don’t come to the class for whatever reason, that is a spot someone else could have filled. If you don’t set an adequate amount of time to cancel prior to the class, other people can’t fill the opening. I personally do not like the option that people can reserve a spot and pay when they arrive for the class. That makes it too easy to skip even though they have a reservation. I know some people don’t want to use a credit card online, but seriously…

Does Wild Apricot allow for a waiting list that will automatically contact the first person on the list if there is a cancellation? Or at least send a message to the instructor automatically?

I just don’t see a way MakeICT can set a policy for every class with so many variables. I’m for letting the individual instructor clearly stating the cancellation policy for their class. They could give their phone number and if someone has an unusual circumstance, the instructor can decide whether to issue a refund if requested.


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I’ve taught classes with supplies (bootcamp) and without (KiCad). I don’t think I could support someone “sitting in” on a class especially if it’s full. For the bootcamp I may take you aside and show you basically how your kit gets put together, but CAD is an artform, and I would be giving less to the other students that showed up on their day.

On the other foot there is the student who was kidnapped by gypsies… it’s not their fault they didn’t show up. But we have to treat everyone the same.

Could we compromise and update our policy to allow a replacement or transfer I feel like that would be a win win?

Kind of a shame we can’t fund class money to people who volunteer. Like every hour of teaching kids to make paper airplanes is like 2 schrute bucks that can be used tward classes.

I’ve suggested the gift of making as a prize for volunteering too but no bites

Personally as an instructor I would gladly teach our best volunteers for free, if malissa wants to learn the laser cutter you know I got you! But I can’t speak for every instructor, last year I got enough eyebrows raised at me when I asked (okay, voluntold) instructors for our more popular classes to let summer interns have free class spots. Open to hear from others on this though, it’s a cool idea.

Rather than let every instructor invent his/her own policy maybe we could do something like this… or provide them as suggestions? Right now our refund policy lets instructors set their own but none of them do it, we could suggest something like:

Cancellation policy A:

  • At least 3 days in advance for a full refund
  • At least 24 hours in advance for credit towards a future class
  • Less than 24 hours we will only issue credit if class was missed for an emergency

or Cancellation policy B:

  • We are buying supplies for this class based on enrollment numbers, so no refunds or credits can be granted for cancellations less than __ days in advance.

or Cancellation policy C:

  • the 7 day thing
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I think we need to be careful how it is done. It has to be individual to individual… not some makerspace policy… if we are not careful, any kind of compensation could make our volunteer an employee… sigh…