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To tell nursery to stick their retainer fee?

(14 Posts)
FutureNannyOgg Thu 04-Aug-11 00:03:55

So DS had been in nursery for 3 months, I booked him in 12 months in advance, just filled in a form with requirements (a term time only place in the baby room) and left a deposit cheque, no contract. In January they rang me to tell me that they couldn't take him for 1 day a week as they had no space. I decided to go back to work part time and put him in nursery 3 days. We agreed this all orally, they never gave me a contract. I had a prospectus that listed the fees per hour, but no other details.

A month or so before the end of the summer term I got in touch to discuss which days I would need for September, I was told that they had already been offering places to parents on the waiting list, and I could have half a day a week (I work full days and 3 days a week, so this is no good). So I had a mad rush to try and find good childcare for September, that fits my hours etc.

I just got a letter from them. It includes a contract (I suppose for me to sign) that says my term with the nursery is until the end of August (he finished on the 21st July) and setting out that I have to pay 40% of the fees as a retainer. There is also a bill for the August fees.

AIBU to think that as 1) I never signed a contract before they billed me, 2) I was never informed of the retainer structure, or notice period, and 3) that they offered hours to waiting list parents before me, that the retainer is worthless and I shouldn't pay them over £150 for a month where DS will not be going there, after which he will be in a different nursery.

I was considering asking them to keep my name down in case more hours came available (they are quite convenient being right next to my workplace), but the sloppy admin has put me off (it is quite hard to pin down the manager to talk about anything) and looking at it objectively, they aren't that awesome a nursery (the carers are lovely, but after seeing other nurseries, they don't seem to be that on the ball with some things) so I am fairly happy to cut ties if I have to.

So what do we think great jury of mums?

LineRunner Thu 04-Aug-11 00:08:50

Has this been on before? Got deja vu.

FutureNannyOgg Thu 04-Aug-11 00:13:17

Not from me, I wouldn't be surprised if someone, somewhere had the same issue...

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Thu 04-Aug-11 00:17:10

Tell them to jog on and that any claim they make against you will be countered with your claim for the unnecessary disruption to your dc's continuity of care and the inconvenience and financial loss* they have caused you.

*loss of earnings and/or additional travel costs you may have to pay to travel to ds's new nursery.

SheCutOffTheirTails Thu 04-Aug-11 00:20:30


Why would you pay to retain a place they have already sold to someone else?

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Thu 04-Aug-11 00:21:25

It's not dissimilar to a recent post Line, but as I recall that particular dc hadn't attended the nursery in question and the retainer and/or advance fees were in dispute

<<willing to be corrected emoticon>>

FutureNannyOgg Thu 04-Aug-11 00:41:02

Thanks mumsnet jury. DH agrees with you too, which is the most sensible thing he's said all day grin

MumdiddyMum Thu 04-Aug-11 07:08:13

I would have thought that as you did not sign a contract, it is unreasonable of them to expect you to pay or even know that you had signed up until the end of august and on that basis its probably acceptable to say 'nope, sorry'.

most nurseries need a months notice before you can take your child out. Thats not unreasonable, they are a business after all, but if you rang them a month before the end of summer term I would have thought that would have been a good opportunity for them to inform you that any changes need to be put in writing etc etc...

Im not an expert but i think you are in the right, mainly because of the lack of contract.

nannyl Thu 04-Aug-11 09:24:20


ballstoit Thu 04-Aug-11 09:30:12

YANBU to not pay this....surely it's standard practice to find out what days existing clients are planning to attend the next term before offering to others on the waiting list?

As long as you've iinformed them that you dont want the half day a week they are offering you, then you've given them notice IMO. Why would you pay a retainer when you're not retaining anything confused

Ciske Thu 04-Aug-11 09:34:57

Is the August bill there because you agreed a term time only deal, but still pay monthly? Because that's how it works for us, they even out the payments to be the same each month, however, that means we do pay in August even though DD doesn't attend.

I'd ask them to provide evidence with exact calculations of what you owe, so you can decide whether it's fair or not.

InstantAtom Thu 04-Aug-11 09:38:35


FutureNannyOgg Thu 04-Aug-11 10:18:52

No Ciske, I pay for the sessions he will be at that month, at the beginning of the month, so it varies a little. The bill is very clear, it is itemised for the sessions that I would have had in the term, with a 60% discount added at the end.

ElsieMc Thu 04-Aug-11 11:44:44

I had terrible trouble with the nursery we used when I took over the "contract" as it had private funding for considerable time.

We had had our doubts about the nursery, but when my GS received an arm fracture one morning and the nursery kept quiet about it until teatime in case they got the blame, it was clearly all over. The manager appeared to panic and rang me crying later that evening.

I contacted the owner straightaway, told her he was being collected immediately, she tried to stop me saying I was too upset to take him. She later got her manager to ring me about outstanding fees!

I told her I had paid for everything to date, which I had. This was not enough apparently. She wanted paying for the next month because I had not given written notice, only verbal.

I basically told her to get lost and then she threatened me with court action. Her manager rang me to say they were not afraid to take people to court and had done so in the past.

I contacted the CAB and they told me they had been the subject of numerous complaints and that they would contact the owner. They told me that although they could not divulge details of other matters, they were very confident the owner would not want any more trouble or possible press scrutiny.

They were right. I never heard from the greedy, horrible woman again. Stick to your guns, you don't want your child at a nursery that puts profit before children. Try a not for profit nursery if there is one in your area.

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