Disputed invoice - help (or gin) needed!

(4 Posts)
TinselTownley Tue 17-Dec-13 14:16:33

My 4 year old started school in September. Previously, he attended a private nursery affiliated with the primary he now goes to. The care there was excellent and he flourished. However, in April 2012, I noticed that the nursery had been over charging us - to the tune of several hundreds of pounds. I raised this and we were issued new invoices and the surplus fees carried over. In August 2012, I made two payments to them which did not come off my statement. When my child returned after the summer holidays, I received an invoice for over two thousand pounds. I again asked them to recalculate - which they did - but they did not remove one of the payments from the charges. I raised this with them repeatedly over the next school year yet every invoice I received was different. Their daily rate fluctuates greatly and we have been billed for several days when the nursery was closed. Throughout the year, we made payments to them despite not receiving an accurate invoice. In July 2013, I spoke to the school's business manager and explained that, while I was sure we owed them something, I needed them to look again at the invoice. She promised to do this.

In September, I spoke to the Head of the school and explained that the awaited recalculated invoice was yet to arrive. She asked both the Nursery Manager and the Business Manager how much they believed we owed. The first said £5,000 and the second £1,200. Even if we had never made a payment in that year, his fees were not equivalent to the first figure while the second figure still did not show the deduction of August's payment or the days they were not open. She promised to issue a new invoice. This eventually arrived in November and carried a threat of legal action should we not pay within five days. This time the figure was £2,000. The invoice also had the wrong name on it and the charges were not in chronological order. Worse still, it was written in Comic Sans. I wrote to them with a full breakdown of our payments for the year and a list of days attended. Using their most consistent daily rate, I demonstrated we actually owe £425. I also sent them a copy cheque for the amount paid in August and a scan of my statement showing when it cleared. Again, verbally, they said they would issue another invoice. I still have not received this despite numerous requests. They have now emailed me requesting a meeting but I do not feel I should go. I have had no apology for the inconvenience and upset and I do not trust them. They refuse to answer any written correspondence but I have now written to them saying this is all I wish to receive from them.

Any ideas what on earth they are playing at or what I should do? I have just set up a standing order for the undisputed amount but the Head treats me as if I am lying despite the evidence. My inclination is to think the Business Manager is cooking the books and lying about it to the Head.

Has anyone else had a similar experience? I am worried it will impact upon the care my child receives at school because I have no trust at all in the organisation outside the classroom.

catkind Tue 17-Dec-13 14:26:50

They sound thoroughly incompetent. When we left nursery I'm sure we were sent a final account with every single payment made/charge due from the 2.5 yrs we used the nursery.
Do they in fact charge by the day they are open/child attends? I think a lot of nurseries also charge for bank holidays or certainly any days not attended. Worth checking your contract to check you have in fact calculated it correctly yourself.
I don't see what is to be gained by a meeting, what you need is a clear listing of charges due and amounts paid, all of which should be in their records.

catkind Tue 17-Dec-13 14:28:03

and wine, or is there a [gin]?

TinselTownley Tue 17-Dec-13 14:55:28

Thank you. Especially for the wine AND gin! Our contract was term time only (they don't open outside of these but have billed us for three days prior to the start of the Autumn Term 2012) and we weren't charged for public holidays. We were eligible for the 15 hours funding from April 2011. For a year, all went swimmingly then - inexplicably - chaos!

I have repeatedly asked them to explain how the funding is applied but they haven't responded. A normal five day week, with funding remission, was normally billed at £119.50. Without any knowledge of their methods, I've just divided this by five to determine an approximate daily rate and then multiplied by possible days of attendance.

They have not provided a statement of account and, until the email I received in November, did not ever record payments on the invoice - just charges.

Incompetent is definitely the word that springs to mind. I just find it so upsetting to be honest.

I do wonder if their tactic isn't simply to try and ground me down so I just keep quiet and pay up!

My eldest is 12 and I have never experienced anything quite like this in all my years of dealing with nurseries and child minders. We know we owe them something but without their cooperation, we simply don't know how much.

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