Restaurants, doctors, hair salons and other service providers often ask for a credit card to hold your reservation and will bill you for a late or missed appointment. We appreciate the hazards ‘no-shows’ present to a business, but when a business or service provider attaches a penalty for tardiness or cancellation the charge should go both ways. If they are late or cancel they should be compensating you for your time.

If your physical therapist cancels an appointment due to illness without giving the same 24 hour ‘no-excuse’ notice they demand of you, then your next appointment should be gratis. In a recent snowstorm, a friend was stuck in horrible traffic and arrived fifteen minutes late to a dental appointment. Not only did they cancel her appointment, but they charged her for it. Often, though, this very same dentist runs late and our friend has spent thirty-forty minutes waiting.

Familiar? Yes. Outrageous? Yes. Should she get a new dentist? Yes.

What of the snooty restaurant that demands you show up within fifteen minutes of a reservation or you lose your table and trigger ‘no-show’ charges on your card, yet they think nothing of keeping you waiting for 45 minutes to an hour to seat you?

A special circle in hell, perhaps.

Ok, we know they can’t ask people to leave, but often we find they have overbooked or not allowed enough time between seatings. They should be bending over backward to be accommodating, at the very least, comping part of your meal for the inconvenience. And, if the wait has been outrageous, the entire meal.

Everyone has an emergency now and then, but equal rules should apply to you and the stylist, masseuse, psychiatrist, trainer, the airlines….

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