Aibu to expect people to pay me on time.....

(46 Posts)
Peachyjustpeachy Mon 05-Aug-13 22:34:46

Or at least let me know that they are struggling.....BEFORE the date the money is due?

I'm a childminder, I only have a couple of children, but I've had more over the holidays.

I am OBVIOUSLY poor. I'm talking threadbare carpets, holes in curtains, one pair of shoes each etc....
But caring and loving and all the kids love being here

This month I've given three bills out. The first couple claimed they haven't got the bill... I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.
The second couple turn up with only half the money, and said.....I want to tell you we won't have the rest of the money for another 3 weeks when we get paid. Okay so it's a new job, and you always have additional costs, that first month is Always a killer...

But now, couple three, when I reminded them today that they are overdue replied with.....won't have it till 20th.

Totally pissed off. I don't have any savings and my outgoings increase considerable,you in the school hols when I'm looking after children.

So I'm pissed off.... But aibu to expect them to let me know, and at least give me the option of not spending mOney on their kids if they have no intention of paying on time.

I feel, ike cancelling all their future sessions, but I need the money

squoosh Mon 05-Aug-13 22:40:01

YANBU and it's a shitty situation they're putting you in.

They probably know they've got you over a barrel, you can't tell them to get lost because you need their money, when it eventually arrives that is. Maybe you need to get slightly sterner, post and follow up with email invoice if they're dragging their feet so they can't pretend they haven't received them.

MaryPoppinsBag Mon 05-Aug-13 22:43:39

No you are not being unreasonable I'm a CM too.
One of my customers persistently pays late and asks me to look after her child (6.30 am starts) at very short notice e.g. texting at 10pm when I was in bed asking for a 6.30 start the next morning. Nightmare!
And I think she uses a friend when she can to avoid paying so I'm going to set up a new contract with a minimum monthly charge that needs to be paid into my bank on a four weekly basis.

It's a difficult balance between losing customers and having them take the piss.

poorbuthappy Mon 05-Aug-13 22:44:36

Advertise your services everywhere. Stop taking the children of the parents who don't pay.
They are taking the piss but you are letting them.

Good childminders are worth their weight in gold. Have some faith in your ability.

Peachyjustpeachy Mon 05-Aug-13 22:45:12

Yeah all bills are due 7 days after their last session of the month so I had sent the reminders today by text. Truth is money I've hadsofar has paid some bills, but now I'm 500 short for another fortnight.

Wonder have money for us to eat properly, never mind providing fruit for the little ones that HAVE paid on time

quoteunquote Mon 05-Aug-13 22:50:19

Write into all new contracts that for every day a bill is not paid from the day when it is due you add a percentage.

and make everyone sign new contracts,

Only take future children if they pay several months in advance.

Quodlibet Mon 05-Aug-13 22:51:07

You are being far too forgiving. This is your business - OK, on a human level you can understand, but if people take you for a soft touch yours will always be the bill they choose not to pay. The mortgage/the supermarket/the petrol they can't say "oh I'll pay that in 3 weeks" so they do that to you. You need to be stipulating with them that payment on these terms is contractually the deal for looking after their child. It's not something that is negotiable.

Can you put late payers on a weekly payment scheme so that if they fall behind you can cut a contract with them without being out of pocket?


Could you have different terms for those who haven't paid, eg in response to the ones who "can't" pay until 20th you reply "well I can still take <child> as previously arranged but I'll need you to provide lunches/snacks/outings money during that period" so you aren't out of pocket.

Or set your fee scale like a council fines department so it's x per session if paid by the 5th of the month, x+5 per session if paid by 12th, etc.

Peachyjustpeachy Mon 05-Aug-13 23:16:46

Oooh I like the idea of weekly payments. I could put in the contract that if they are late paying two months in a row then they automatically go onto weekly payments....

EllesAngel Mon 05-Aug-13 23:46:28

I'd be tempted, in future, to add a late fee to any new contracts for those who are late in paying.

littlewhitebag Tue 06-Aug-13 00:02:16

Also for each day they are late an amount of £X to be added on. That should sort them out. You cannot be out of pocket.

HoikyPoiky Tue 06-Aug-13 00:03:26

peachyJustPeachy. Love your NN, is it Bill Bryson inspired??

It is definitely time to get stroppy.

I would write to them to remind them that you have to be paid immediately as you have bills to pay. Why should you be put into a situation of potentially needing to borrow money.

Weekly payment sounds like a good idea too.

A woman near us had so much trouble getting money off the parents of her charges she changed her rules, when they book in for the days they need for that week, they had to pay when dropping off the child and pay for the whole week or not drop the child. All paid up front, stopped the chancers from trying it on.
I had to wait 3 months for one payment, she pulled her kids owing a whole month, then took two more to pay me, after me making many phone calls and posting her the bill.

KatyTheCleaningLady Tue 06-Aug-13 07:40:13

I'm self employed, too. I require payment on the day of the clean. Either bank transfer or cash. I know that I would be screwed if I let people pay after the fact.

I think it would make sense to charge a week in advance. Have reasonable terms regarding cancellations, with a proportion of the money not refundable depending on how much notice given.

Good clients will respect that.

Runningchick123 Tue 06-Aug-13 07:52:52

I used to pay my childminder before or on the first day of the care. I would never have dreamed of paying in arrears. I needed the childminder as much as she needed my money so its a case of mutual respect as good childminders are hard to find.
I think you should adopt the same policy that some private nurseries have - if fees are not paid in full by then end of the day in which they fall due then 15% late payment fee will be added and if payment remains unpaid for more than 5 days without written agreement then the child's place will be suspended and debt recovery proceedings will start.
Sounds harsh but you are running a business. Those same parents wouldn't go the supermarket and say 'I need the food now, but will pay you in three weeks time'

Snugglepiggy Tue 06-Aug-13 08:26:28

This is most unfair on you.I am self employed and look after animals not children but when I started my business almost a decade ago I made it clear that that payment,be it cash, cheque or bank transfer was weekly.For that weeks bookings.
All but one of my customers have respected that but one - and I had an intuition would be a bad payer from the outset.I gave her a months lee- way ,then told her I couldn't hold a place for her as I had a waiting list of other potential clients.Value yourself and your business and replace customers who don't pay on time.
DH was in the building trade for many years and lost his business partly through bad debts - and recession- so it toughened us up!Its exactly as Running chick says about shopping.My analogy is they wouldn't book a meal eat it and then say sorry can't/ won't pay today but will pay whenever it suits us.

Peachyjustpeachy Tue 06-Aug-13 08:29:29

thanks all... i needed to rant and to sort my feelings out, and you are all 100% correct!

Peachy... its time to get stoney!

redskyatnight Tue 06-Aug-13 08:29:44

I've never used a childminder but all the forms of childcare I have used have asked for payment in advance - with stringent penalty terms built into the contract. The trouble with being nice is that people take advantage ...

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Tue 06-Aug-13 08:44:32

Would it be totally impractical to make people pay by the day? I really feel for you.

Cheeseatmidnight Tue 06-Aug-13 08:53:32

As harsh as it sounds, no payment in advance = no care. I had to take this line in the end, I also introduced a £5 per day late payment charge. That made them pay on time!

livinginwonderland Tue 06-Aug-13 09:09:35

Make people pay in advance, either every Monday or on the 1st Monday of every month. If they don't pay, they don't get care.

KatyTheCleaningLady Tue 06-Aug-13 09:17:18

Child care, like cleaning, is seen as woman's work, and so not respected. Plus, women are supposed to be "nice."

If you put your foot down from this point on, your existing clients may take offense because they don't respect you. But new clients will respect you.

Don't try to appease everyone. There's such a demand for quality care that you can hold out for the good clients.

WeleaseWodger Tue 06-Aug-13 09:18:09

Impose late penalties. Nurseries charge £5 for every 5 min you are late for this very reason. Parents would take the piss otherwise.

Ireallymustbemad Tue 06-Aug-13 09:23:38

I used to pay the childminder in advance. Now I use after school club we get invoiced in arrears but there is a £25 charge if you pay after 10th of the month.

Good luck. I agree you need to be more strict, they can't see you as a choice or flexible payment they must start seeing you as a necessity payment.

Lonecatwithkitten Tue 06-Aug-13 09:24:06

You can change your terms and conditions with your existing customers as long as you give notice. Write a letter tonight and hand it to them tomorrow stating that as of 1st September you will be introducing late payment fees of X per day. Then issue invoices 7 days prior to when they are due again hand them to parents or use e-mail that automatically e-mails you when they open the e-mail.
Future children that you take on switch to payment in advance rather than arrears.

Lonecatwithkitten Tue 06-Aug-13 09:26:42

I posted too soon. I work in a different, but equally emotive business where people continually 'forget' to pay. I also use a template letter that I got free on-line from a firm of solicitors called McKinells that is a threat of court action letter which I use when it gets ridiculous.

musicposy Tue 06-Aug-13 09:49:08

I'm so with you! I teach piano and although that might make me look loaded, we're really not rich enough to afford people to pay late. DH is in a 20k a year job so we really need the piano money or the mortgage doesn't get paid.
I invoice 1st week of term for payment on 2nd, half termly. People know this and know how much it will be and when it is due. Most people are fine, but one or two are terrible.

I did kick one out once because it got ridiculous, lessons and lessons in arrears with no sign of any money. Eventually I got some of it but not all. Another regularly leaves it right up until I send "I won't be teaching next week without payment" letters. I hate having to do it.

Piano lessons are a lucury - why have them if you can't pay? OP, you wouldn't go into the supermarket and say you'll pay next month! It's no different. I've got tougher in my old age, though. People used to occasionally leave in arrears and I'd let it drop. Nowadays I would go to small claims if I had to.

pootlebug Tue 06-Aug-13 10:06:09

Is it normal to pay childminders in arrears, and by a month? As well as late payers, you also put yourself in the position where people potentially don't pay for the last month when they leave, knowing how much hassle it would be for you to chase the payment.

Can you move to weekly payment in advance? That way you're not asking for loads of money upfront but at least have the money to match your expenses better?

When I've taught the piano payment has been either:
- in full, for the term, in advance
- on the day of the payment, no lesson.

Please don't worry too much that parents will go elsewhere - if you're a good childminder, it really doesn't sound easy to find another one. And payment by the week in advance really isn't that unreasonable.

judytheobscure Tue 06-Aug-13 10:15:37

YA Absolutely NBU

I have a friend who is a childminder who has this exact same problem,

I always wonder what the parents of the children she minds would do if their employers were as slack with paying their wages.

You need to start putting your foot down and refuse to look after their children until you are paid.

Late payment in my friends experience is never a one off either. If they can get away with it once, they will keep trying it on.

mumofweeboys Tue 06-Aug-13 10:19:43

I have to pay my nursery fees in advance at the start of the month. They also required a weeks deposit when kids started that the nursery holds. I wont get it back until the kids leave the nursery.

I would tell the parents in a letter that have money outstanding that your moving to weekly payments next week as due to outstanding money you currently cant afford to give the children snacks or take them on trips.

Whathaveiforgottentoday Tue 06-Aug-13 10:30:12

gosh, I wouldn't dream of paying my childminder or after school club late. I pay them as soon as I'm paid every month so I don't forget (especially as I'm very forgetful hence the nn)

The after school club obviously has problems with some parents as they put up notices about fines for late payment. Personally, don't blame them and wouldn't mind my childminder introducing fines either.

catsmother Tue 06-Aug-13 10:30:31

I used to pay my childminder weekly in advance and we would work out the yearly cost and divide that by 50 (less childminder's 2 weeks holiday) to get the correct amount. That way I spread the cost evenly over the year and it was simple enough - even though I was paid monthly myself - to set aside the childminding money.

I just don't understand anyone who messes their childminder about. It's such an obviously vital expense if you're working - and apart from common decency I'd be too nervous I'd be given my marching orders and would have then been truly stuck for childcare, therefore jeopardising my job.

I think that's what you must have written into the contract - that if people don't abide by its terms, they'll be given xx days notice of termination. I suppose it does depend where you live but I always found it quite hard to find a childminder with spaces, going to the right school and so on. If you ditched these customers, hopefully you wouldn't have a problem replacing them.

catsmother Tue 06-Aug-13 10:34:02

Fines are a good idea too but although they'd be some compensation they're not the complete answer as you'd still have a cashflow problem. It's not that much help getting an extra £25 at the end of the month in 3 weeks time if you need to do a food shop right now, and you don't have or don't want to use a credit card in the meantime (for example). I think you really do need to get assertive about this and leave the parents in no doubt their contract is on the verge of being cancelled altogether unless they show some respect and get their act together .... as I said before, will they really want to risk their jobs by losing childcare ?

LukewarmBath Tue 06-Aug-13 11:09:02

I bet the non-payers would kick up a real fuss if their wages weren't paid on time, yet they think it's ok to mess you around! I would do as others have suggested, and make a change to your contracts ASAP asking for weekly payment in advance. No payment = no childcare. I know that you can't afford to lose customers, but you may as well lose the ones you're not getting paid for and devote the extra time and effort to finding new customers.

The cheek of some people never ceases to amaze me. Just after Xmas, someone I know only paid half of her rent for January as they'd spent loads at Xmas. She was then totally outraged that her landlord had dared to chase her up for the extra money and had threatened to start eviction proceedings. Her attitude was 'We haven't got the money, we'll pay what we can'. She genuinely couldn't see it from the landlord's point of view at all, and see that perhaps he had a mortgage on the property that he had to pay, and that what she was doing was very cheeky and entitled.

fackinell Tue 06-Aug-13 11:26:06

It's your business, OP, you can change the rules to suit.

I always asked for advance fees and had I had any late payers would have emailed out a late fee list. I had the money a month in advance apart from my ad-hoc kid who paid after every session.

ChunkyPickle Tue 06-Aug-13 11:36:33

You need to change your terms so that they either pay in advance, or at least 50/50 advance/arrears.

I use both a childminder and a playgroup and for both I'm issued a bill at the beginning of the term, and am expected to pay fairly promptly (although they are wonderfully easy going as long as you don't take the mick)

Groovee Tue 06-Aug-13 11:37:51

My childminder charges a late payment fee of £10 per day that you are late. As I pay directly in to her bank account, I always do this the day she gives me my bill.

I've only been late once because I was rushed into hospital and had surgery. Unknown to me dh paid her in cash and then I paid her in to her bank account once I got home. She refunded me and took my late payment charge off too as it beyond circumstances that I was unable to pay and the fact that dh had paid her.

But we were both aware she needed to be paid and ensured this happened.

iloveweetos Tue 06-Aug-13 11:49:45

Ive always paid on advance due to not wanting to put anyone out! crazy that people just have no respect of others.
At school club I pay the friday of the week before and if she goes in any extra days, i add it onto the next pay date.
Charge late fees, and ensure they pay in advance. Although might be tough getting it out of people who cant even pay in arrears...

Saffyz Tue 06-Aug-13 11:53:17

YANBU. Like the sound of the weekly payments and overdue interest fee. They're being disrespectful and rude. If there's a shortfall in their money that's for them to deal with, not you.

LoisEinhorn Tue 06-Aug-13 12:34:50

I have a late payment of fees policy, where I state I will charge £5 per day its overdue and that I will seek legal advice if any invoice remains unpaid after a certain amount of time. And that I will stop minding the child/ren.
In my new parents pack I have printed off my fees policy and late payment policy so they can't say they haven't seen it and they sign to say they have 'read, understood and agreed' to each policy.
I've never had to enforce it (touch wood).

KellyElly Tue 06-Aug-13 13:13:46

They are completely unreasonable. I pay my childminder weekly and the day before she starts work. I have once had to ask for an extention of couple of days but wouldn't dream of telling her she had to wait three weeks. Get some better contracts with clauses in for late payment AND some better clients smile

Viviennemary Tue 06-Aug-13 13:16:06

Charge them extra for late payment if you feel brave. It isn't fair what they are doing.

Foxred10 Tue 06-Aug-13 13:23:28

As the others have said;

- weekly payments
- in advance (kids can't be dropped off if they haven't paid)
- late fees

I'm sure they will sharpen right up if not paying = no childcare! Cheeky buggers angry

nokidshere Tue 06-Aug-13 13:36:38

I charge monthly in advance. First month of contract cash and then bank transfer on or before 1st of the month.

wendybird77 Tue 06-Aug-13 19:20:27

Time to get tough! No money no childcare until they pay. Literally turn them away on the doorstep - bet they will find the money quick.

Peachyjustpeachy Tue 06-Aug-13 22:07:34

Yes I think that I'm really going to have to put my foot down. I think I need to several contact with the cheekiest one....cos this is just the tip of the iceberg....

Gradual withdraw and suspiciously full on the says she needs me or full on in your face?

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