I am an attorney and I offer free consultations (up to an hour) so people can get more information about their case, see if we're a good fit, etc. I have been shocked by the number of people who just don't show up. I'll generally call and leave a message (because when I'm being blown off they don't answer their phones) stating that it's now half an hour past when we were supposed to meet and to call me if they would like to reschedule (in case they forgot or had an emergency). I don't mind last minute cancellations as this is business and not social, but the no-shows drive me crazy. I would love to be able to confront the people who do that but that's (a) rude and (b) not good business practice. So that's mine.
Interestingly that is one of the reasons why my office doesn't offer free consultations. We get very few no shows when people value our time - and they value it becuase they're paying for it.
Sure, some people choose not to meet with us when they find out its not free, but honestly, we don't miss them.
I've thought about doing that (mostly right after being stood up!). So far I haven't changed my practice, but if it gets too bad, I may have to. Which will annoy me to need to change based on rude people, who tend to spoil things for everyone else.
Although this is ostensibly about rude people, there's something more important here. When you give a free consultation, you're telling people something about how you value your time. What you're saying is "My time isn't worth anything." This is related to the Craft Freebies thread in the off-topic folder. People have a very hard time understanding the worth of someone else's efforts. It's important to make it clear to them. That's why, in the Craft Freebies thread, many of the crafters will say "Sure. My hourly rate is $x and the materials will cost you $y." That makes it clear to the other person what the value is.
One mistake that people starting out in business make all the time is undervaluing themselves. It's a well-known phenomenon. Charging someone, even a nominal fee, for a consultation sends the message that: 1) Your time is valuable; 2) You're good
Relating this to the broader thread: When someone takes advantage of us, like being perpetually late, and we say nothing, we're sending them a message. "Your time is more valuable than mine" or "Your comfort/happiness/needs are more important than mine." Many of us (particularly women, but men as well) are socialized to think this. It's bad
to be "selfish." While in excess, "selfish" can be bad (I'm using quotes because it's such a loaded term), in moderation, it's very important. So, it's important to show people how we want to be treated. By not holding dinner, or playing taxi, or resisting the thousand of other ways people take advantage of us, we show them that our lives are valuable, too. They may not like that, or even understand it, but it's important to send that message.
People here get up in arms when we use the term "training" or "teaching" with respect to other adults, but that's exactly what happens. It happens whether we like it or not. The feeling that it's "wrong" or "manipulative" is only the socialization against making waves taking control. The only thing that we have any control over is whether this trainging happens consciously or unconsciously. When we just let things happen, we're unconsciously teaching people that it's ok to treat us badly. Instead, we need to make the conscious decision to not
let them treat us badly; to teach them to treat us better.