Studio Private Lesson Rates Not Upfront?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by freeageless, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. Wannabee

    Wannabee Well-Known Member

    Bumping this thread because I have questions:

    -What do you think of students being charged different rates for privates with the same instructor, assuming that EVERYTHING is equal, number of lessons each week, number of lessons bought at a time, etc.? I TOTALLY get the concept of independant instructors being able to charge whatever they want to whomever they want and all that. But could/does this cause animosity in your opinion? Students will talk, they will find out that student x is paying less than student y for the exact same set-up. I understand you can either just deal or walk away, but when your source of good dance instruction is limited (as in this one being the only game in town), then what?

    -When students are offered a discount for buying x number of lessons, how do you feel when the x is a moving target, based mostly upon how many lessons the student has typically bought in the past. A scenario such as for student A "my new lesson rate is $$ if you continue to buy x number of lessons and use them at the same rate as you are doing right now". However, student B is newer and has no history of buying lessons in bulk. They are told "my rate is $$ if you buy x-5 lessons". It seems as though this is highly unfair and is in a way sort of financially penalizing those established students that have a purchasing history.

    I'm not sure if I explained this exactly right, but if it makes sense, I'd like your opinions.
  2. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    well...here's the thing...specials are offered to new students in may places all of the time which don't apply to current students...and sometimes there are other exceptions that teacher may make...and that is their perogative...that being said, AFAIK, my pros have always had the same rate for everyone all of the time...and if I found out that it was otherwise to my detriment, either the playing field would be made level, or the favored student would have many more opportunities to take more lessons
  3. stash

    stash Well-Known Member



    I'm only going to respond to the first question because I've only had experience with that since I has no monies to buy lessons in bulk. I think under certain conditions it's OK for a coach to charge different people different rates. First condition being student at a university or college. We, either have part time jobs, or no jobs at all and barely have enough money anyway. I can totally understand (and appreciate) a coach doing this, even if I was no longer a college student.

    The second condition being almost like a rent control option. The students under this coach keep paying the same price they have always been paying, while the new students must pay to new higher rate. I have seen people up and leave a coach because of rate changes--mainly because they could no longer afford that coach anymore. I could see where this could cause some tension between newer and older students, but I don't think it should be a huge issue.
  4. Wannabee

    Wannabee Well-Known Member

    I can totally appreciate the college student vibe, heck, even a high school student vibe. That is not the current situation. These are not high school or college students.

    And as to this second point you mentioned, I would tend to agree as well, if it were in fact the new students being charged more or having a bit of a different set of circumstances. What is happening is that the new students are being offered a bulk lesson rate when they buy x lessons. However, many of the more established students are being told that the discount will not be at x number of lessons for them. These students must continue to buy the same number of lessons they have historically bought in order to continue to get the discounted rate, when the majority of the time this number far exceeds the "x" for the new students. It seems almost a punishment for having a purchasing history of buying in bulk.

    If they want to give a discount at x number of lessons, why not apply that across the board? Because one has a history of purchasing "more than x", one can only have the discount if he/she continues to buy "more than x". Maybe one should go away and come back as a new student?
  5. Wannabee

    Wannabee Well-Known Member

    I hate to think that it may come to this, but I can't rule it out, especially as it seems the longer a student has been there and the more lessons they bought in bulk, the more they are being affected by this weird x is a moving target thing. I hope not.
  6. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I feel very fortunate in that my pro has even gone so far as to encourage me to discuss his pricing with newer students who have had questions...he is pretty transparent and thus, there is no drama...there may be grumbling from people who would like to negotiate...but there is no drama b/c everyone knows the deal...


    I don't know your circumstance, but if I was in a position of perceived inequity I would inquire about it...and if the explanation wasn't satisfactory and there wasn't a remedy, then I imagine I would have to consider parting if a lingering resentment remained
  7. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    Why not ask your teacher for clarification?
    stash likes this.
  8. Wannabee

    Wannabee Well-Known Member

    I definitely plan to discuss the situation. But I like to get some viewpoints form DF that perhaps I had not thought of, maybe see if I seem to be misinterpreting or blowing something out of proportion before I gather my thoughts and speak to my instructor about it. Thanks for the replies so far.
  9. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    One thought.... All lessons and students are not the same. You might find that your teacher is charging less when the students are lower level since the lesson is less difficult for him/her. many teachers charge pro ams more because of the physical part of the work.... teaching a couple means a lot less wear and tear on the body. Or a coach could be charging more for students that are higher maintenance... Do not be surprised when you are told the reasoning. It is always the teachers prerogative, and many teachers charge rates comparable to how good their students treat them... For instance, a student who often competes and does many entries might get a lower rate than a student that takes 1 lesson a week. Or a student that is a hassle to book, changes times and complains will get a higher rate.
  10. Wannabee

    Wannabee Well-Known Member

    Good points. And I had considered this type of pricing scale, so to speak. I will say that I go out of my way to be accomodating in many many ways both in scheduling and during my lessons. I rarely cancel (maybe twice in 4 years) and if I do, I insist that he charge me anyway if I wasn't able to give adequate notice. I compete as often as I can, and I take a fair number of lessons each week on a very consistent basis. Perhaps the difficulty of the pro/am type lesson could have something to do with it I guess. But the discrepancy in pricing is coming from other pro/am students as well, not couples.

    But I do appreciate you listing some possible reasons as to what might be going on. I will think these through. Thank you!

    Along this same line of thinking though, I would think that unless the situation is pretty brutal in one of these areas, that this seems like a bit of an odd way to price lessons. Looks like every student would be charged a different amount. Sort of like "she's moody so she gets charged $, this one is a pita so she gets to pay $$, this one is not quite as big a pita as the previous one, but there's that whole annoying perfume thing, so I'm going to charge her $$$". How exhausting. But I guess stranger things have happened.
  11. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    if my pro made adjustments for that reason, I would be horrified...just as I wouldn't expect special treatment for taking the most lessons per week and competing the most
  12. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Charging different students different rates - all things being exactly equal - is probably a bad idea for instructors. It gives a very bad impression, and can cause drama.

    That said, there are a LOT of little inequalities that can go unnoticed, e.g. time of day, location (floor fee, driving times), age (juniors often get a discount), etc. An instructor might grandfather in their loyal, long-term students, allowing them to keep the old rate when they raise their general rate. And if the instructor is getting something out of the partnership, like a fantastic pro/am partner that lets them show their stuff, they might work out special deals. And although I think it is a bad idea because of the potential drama, I think it's perfectly understandable for an instructor to charge more for difficult students, to make it worth their efforts. It's common practice in IT, design, and other contracting jobs.

    While it might seem unfair, it makes perfect sense to give better incentives to new students. It's a one-time thing to entice someone into becoming a long-term student. I mean, it's fairly common for studios to offer one try-out lesson for free for beginning students... do you think that's unfair?

    Your second scenario just seems unnecessarily confusing, designed to string students along... more like a threat, instead of an incentive. Very skeevy.
  13. anntennis

    anntennis Active Member

    I used to go to a large studio in NYC. They offer new students discount of 20% for the first package of 20 lessons and all free parties you can handle almost every day of the week. But only the first package. Once you get a “bug”, no discount .
    Also sometimes running specials for all the students for Christmas time, so you can buy bulk of discounted lessons (at least 10% discount). Lessons have time limit and 24 hour cancellation policy notice.

    I would not know about charging different rates to different students though.
  14. My studio dont put their lesson rate on their website only their prices for classes and parties. It was relatively easy to get an indication when I contacted them though. They told me the different rates depending on what level teacher you worked with and said they would assess that in a trial lesson and made it clear that the more lessons you purchased the cheaper the cost per lesson.

    I can see how it would be a little intimidating for a newcomer to have to come into the studio to find out the full details of pricing but for someone who's been in the dance industry a relatively long time I found it pretty upfront.
  15. regis

    regis Active Member

    yeah the free lesson is actually for them to evaluate how well you can or can't dance .... if they spend that first lesson with you and can see that you are going to be a real pain to try and teach then they jack your price up some more to cover the cost of the Tylenol it takes to teach you.
  16. regis

    regis Active Member

    Let's not forget that they are running a business. Every business is in business to make money. Businesses will make these kinds of deals in order to bring in new customers. Its like my tv service ... I'll get these adds that say $20 bucks a month for service for 6 months, but the fine print says for new customers only. you just have to shrug your shoulders and say thanks alot.
    Now in my case, I still pay the same rate as when I walked in three years ago, but I'm pretty sure they raise the rates on an annual basis. So new customers are actually paying more than I do. But then again, part of that is because I'm a guy and there are only a few guys dancing at my level so they like having us there.
  17. Wannabee

    Wannabee Well-Known Member

    The reason I wanted to put this out there, is so that I can be sure I have given due diligence to both sides of the argument, be sure I wasn't missing something before I collect my thoughts and speak to him about it.

    My main concern, is that unfortunately, in my neck of the woods, there is a gigantic shortage of quality instruction, as in, my current instructor is pretty much the only game in town (or state to not put too fine a point on it). This is likely why he's confident that his new pricing scheme which seems to have singled me out in a bad way, will not drive away his business. And while I am confident that I add considerably to his income, he would get by just fine without me. So, I want to be sure that I've considered everything if I have suspicions that it may end up in me feeling that I cannot live with the outcome of said discussion.

    I guess this is my main concern, that I have no other feasible options for quality dance instruction at this point. So I'm REALLY hoping this can all be resolved without me having to walk. Of course, my instructor is more than aware of this being my dance situation as well. Him knowing this, me knowing this, it sort of complicates the situation and I feel puts me at a bit of a disadvantage. I know I have a right to fair treatment and service, etc., but my heart is riding on this one.

    Thanks so far for all of the input everyone.
  18. llamasarefuzzy

    llamasarefuzzy Well-Known Member

    Good luck wannabee! Sounds like that is a tough situation
    latingal likes this.
  19. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    Are we talking about a $10-20 difference, or more? Are you prepared to give up for $10?
  20. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I have thought about his myself...what I would do if my pro raised his rate?...even if it was across the board to everyone..I would respect his right to do that, but I would have to drop a lesson...I wouldn't be-grudge him his need to do that, but I am maxed out...I would probably feel less good will if it wasn't across the board...

    now, I don't exactly understand how your pro has jiggered the thing so that it is only you who is getting uniquely jabbed but I get your desire to not out yourself...I have to say that would trouble me and I would have a polite conversation about how we were going to have to navigate it...for example, I heard some rumblings from some students once about how they shouldn't have to pay the same portion of comp expenses as those of us who dance all days...my feeling was; well, if it gets changed to be a per day rate for his expenses, I'll do what they do and just pick a few styles per comp...bottom line is that I am not in control of the price structure, only my response to it, which would also probably be influenced by how the conversation went when I decided to bring it up

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