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Or was she?

(25 Posts)
MaryPoppinsPenguins Mon 16-Oct-17 13:31:45

My daughter and her friend were having a joint birthday party, a really big one with 50 children so my friend (the other parent and I) went all out, hired our school for the day (9-7) and got a marquee, assault course, bouncy castle, face painter, mobile zoo, the works. We figured this is probably their last big party so why not go all out.

Knowing how much we had to set up, when we booked the school we specifically asked if we would be able to get in by 9 and leave at 7... as the companies for marquees and bouncy castles would only drop off and pick up on the same day if there was a significant amount of time in between. This was all agreed.

So with a week to go, I ask the school admin person (who I know well as I'm on the PTA with her also) if I can check how many trestle tables there are in storage... she tells me that I'll be able to have whatever's in there when she lets me in at 2pm.

Um.... obviously that's not going to work. I have deliveries at 9am that I can't change. I remind her that I've booked the hall from 9. She gets really annoyed as this means she has to run around all day, setting and unsetting alarms etc. I genuinely don't understand the issue, surely popping there quickly in the morning and quickly in the evening (as is part of your job?) when you live two minutes down the road isn't that much of a hardship... but I don't want to fall out with anyone so I tell her I will try to work out a solution. Could she give me a key to the gate, (so no school and no alarm) and I'll try to sort everything I can before she gets there. This is kind of agreed to, but she's not happy. She tells me repeatedly Sunday is a family day. Which I know, but I've booked a space. I'm a paying customer. Obviously, this is a bit frustrating.

My friend reminds me that as our bouncy castles are coming at 9, we're going to need power. I ask the school admin again if we can just have the school for the times booked because we need access to the power... and she once again is annoyed. So my friend and I, not wanting to annoy anyone (!) pay £175 for a generator so we don't need the school. We also get a whole lot of (stupidly high) quotes for hiring furniture so we can do all our set up without bothering the school admin. And maybe just do it with the gate key.

I go to drop off a few days before the party, and notice that a large wooden structure in the playground has been all roped off. We had planned to use it for our party so I was a bit disappointed but assumed it must be broken or something. Then my daughter tells me that they're not allowed to play on the grass at all because there's a wasp nest and lots of kids have got stung. Great. My marquee, gazebos and bouncy castles can only go on grass. No one even told me, I had to find out from my daughter. When I enquired about when it would be gone, I get told that it will be gone by the Christmas fair, don't worry 🙄 My friends husband is allergic, so that's great. We line someone up to get rid of it, in case they haven't solved the issue by the party.

So the day of the party comes, we go to school, start decorating the field and let the marquee people in. Then our generator person calls to say it's broken. Ugh. There's nothing they can do... but the bouncy castle people are about to be there and they're not happy to just leave them there uninflated, so we need access to power.

At 9.30 my friend phones the school admin, massively apologises and explains our issue... and she goes Crazy. It's her only day to have a lie in, she wanted to stay in pyjamas, she can't believe this. She actually makes my friend cry. I take the phone and also massively apologise, and explain that there's literally nothing we can do. And the bill I have covers the whole premises from 9-7, and even though we tried really hard and paid a lot of money because you didn't want to get out of bed, it's gone wrong totally out of our control and we really need the school open please. She also goes crazy at me and says she's going to cry. She says I can pay less if she comes later... so she's actively trying to get less money for a school that can't even afford to buy glue for the children. I explain that it's not the money, I'm happy to pay the full amount, but I need to get in the school.

Eventually she agrees to come and open the school. Bare in mind she lives less than one minute drive away... she comes 40ish minutes later. Quickly unlocks the school, talks with a voice like she's going to cry, makes things totally awkward and says she'll come back to lock the school at 6.30pm (booked till 7, remember?)... and leaves. All that drama for two minutes at school.

So the party happens and it's 3.30 - 6. At half five all our family and a couple of our friends start helping us clear up because we know she wants to lock the school at 6.30 and we need to have all the tables back in there. So essentially she's cost us half an hour of a really expensive party.

I really want to complain to the school. I think she was totally unprofessional and totally rude. We tried really hard not to put her out in any way, and it's like she tried her hardest to make it difficult. So I need to know if it's us that are being unreasonable... because if we are obviously I won't complain. But I'm concerned that this woman is costing the school potential custom if she's treating all enquiries and hirers in this way? And purely selfishly, I want my younger daughters party there, but just don't need all this drama again.


MaryPoppinsPenguins Mon 16-Oct-17 13:33:29

Sorry, that's a really long story for such a first world issue!

SfaOkaySuperFurryAnimals Mon 16-Oct-17 13:35:50

Ring the school and have a chat with them, you hired the space, whatever is going on with her is for her to deal with. That reaction and drama is going to cost the school money vital for supporting kids learning.

ziggiestardust Mon 16-Oct-17 13:39:36

Hmm, I’d agree. She sounds very unreasonable!

And you paid for the whole time? How odd! Is she like this with everyone?

blackbunny Mon 16-Oct-17 13:42:00

Definitely complain,her attitude was unhelpful to say the least.AND request a partial refund-you didn't get what you paid for.
Poor you,what a rotten day you had. You won't feel like laughing at all now,but one day in the future it will make a great story.

MaryPoppinsPenguins Mon 16-Oct-17 13:42:23

I don't know, but it's not very good for the school if she is. I honestly don't understand her issue at all. She was so upset that we called, but I would expect anyone with school aged children to probably be awake by 9.30... I didn't know that was a really early time to call.

MissConductUS Mon 16-Oct-17 13:44:11

Facilities that rent out space like this are usually thrilled to have the extra money and bend over backward to make reasonable accommodations for customers. I'd have a word with someone higher up.


BenLui Mon 16-Oct-17 13:44:44

I don’t think you are unreasonable to complain to the school but when you write the complaint you need to make it brief and to the point.

How much you spent on the party and all your various arrangements are irrelevant, the key point is that the individual responsible for giving you access to the premises you had paid for was rude and uncooperative.

SpiritedLondon Mon 16-Oct-17 13:47:01

You could get your lawyers onto them Daddy Warbucks!!!! grin. Seriously did you have a written contract ? I hired the school hall for my considerably more modest party which was hired for 2 hours with half an hour set up and tidy up either side. This was all recorded in a contract for me which also detailed the kitchen facilities that I had access to etc. I also couldn't confirm until the caretaker had clarified their availability to unlock and lock up for me. I imagine in this case they were caught on the hop because most people ( I'm guessing) don't tend to need such extensive access to both outdoor spaces and power etc over a long period. Not that you're unreasonable but your request was seemingly more unusual than normal. I would complain in your situation but I wouldn't go in all guns blazing if you need to see this lady frequently.

grasspigeons Mon 16-Oct-17 13:49:09

What a strange tale. If you book a space from 9 til 7 and pay to do so, you have a contract for that service.

I surprised it's the school admin job to unlock the gates though. I'd expect a caretaker to lock and unlock stuff. I can only assume that her manager has forced her to take on this role and she doest like it. Which isn't really your issue.

MaryPoppinsPenguins Mon 16-Oct-17 13:49:59

It was a one off! grin They won't be having a party like that again!

MrsHathaway Mon 16-Oct-17 13:51:34

I'd "feed back" rather than complain, that although you had been able to make this booking it clearly wasn't working out and in future they should make more appropriate bookings.

In other words, school shouldn't have bloody booked it if they couldn't get suitable staffing to support the booking.

VladmirsPoutine Mon 16-Oct-17 13:55:24

I'm also wondering if this is technically 'not her job' but even so that's not your problem. I'd ring the school and tell them. I also think that she acted unreasonably even if it's not her job - she still needs to conduct herself with a degree of professionalism which she failed to do. She could have taken it up with her direct managers rather than causing a fracas with a 'customer'.

bluebells1 Mon 16-Oct-17 13:58:00

I think she was the one being fucking unreasonable. The trouble is OP, you gave in too quickly and you were too kind to her! You are a softie. smile

AlternativeTentacle Mon 16-Oct-17 14:06:35

I would never have budged on the 9am open up to be honest. Otherwise what is the point?

Definitely complain. Don't feed it back [yawn].

Ceto Mon 16-Oct-17 14:08:45

I suspect the issue is that the school is expecting her to deal with these things at the weekends without paying her. Which of course is no excuse for her attitude towards you, but I think it means you need to go above her head and tell them they need to sort out someone who is paid to deal with these things properly, even if it does mean paying overtime. The money they get from the letting surely outweighs the potential expense - to say nothing of the fact that they won't ever get repeat business unless this is sorted out.

musicform Mon 16-Oct-17 14:17:40

If it was agreed with the school then you are right to complain

RhiannonOHara Mon 16-Oct-17 14:18:18

I agree with Ceto. The admin's behaviour sounds to me very much like the behaviour of someone who's doing things that are not (or perhaps that they think are not) within their job remit and is doing them very grudgingly.

It's up to the school to either pay her properly to do these things and manage her so she doesn't behave like this, or have the appropriate person do them (caretaker or whoever).

Quartz2208 Mon 16-Oct-17 14:21:32

yes exactly that the school are hiring out the premises at the weekend without having a plan in place as to how it actually works - the school are being unreasonable really as if they cannot sort way to handle it they should not be hiring it out

Church halls for example now solve this issue by having a keybox so people can just get the key

And I have to say its a bit harsh to say she was unreasonable - she is not paid to work on a Sunday, she does not want to work on a Sunday she has other stuff to do and she has to arrange it around what you want. Fine if its part of her contract but its not. You are seemingly blase about the fact you dont understand her issue - but its straightforward she is being expected to work on a day she is not contracted to without being paid for what sounds like a massive party (school fairs dont take that much time)

MaryPoppinsPenguins Mon 16-Oct-17 14:26:16

I believe this is part of her job though... and I gave all the details so as not to drip feed, but a poster upthread said it correctly - we hired it from 9-7, it should have been opened for us. It's probably less than 10 minutes out of her day for two trips to open & shut the school. Hardly her whole Sunday.

It doesn't matter that it's for a party does it? (And school fairs do take that long! If they're good fairs smile)

MrsHathaway Mon 16-Oct-17 14:28:58

That's sort of my point re feedback/complaint: if you want to maintain a good working relationship with her even though it sounds like she's been caught up in a management cockup, you pitch it as feedback rather than a complaint which will look personal and possibly unfairly end up biting her on the arse, rather than being dealt with as a procedural miscalculation at a higher level.

Bringmewineandcake Mon 16-Oct-17 14:35:12

Definitely her! I can’t believe you were in the position of hiring a generator and an exterminator just to hold your party!! The school definitely shouldn’t take bookings if they can’t effectively manage them.
You’re on the PTA so you should bring up this mismanagement at the next meeting.

Batteriesallgone Mon 16-Oct-17 14:36:40

Agree with BenLui. Keep it short and impersonal.

You booked the space 9-7. It was not made available for this time. This resulted in considerable inconvenience for you due to the bookings you had made. You were not informed of the wasp nest, you should have been as it's a health and safety issue.

The end. No need for anything about her tone of voice etc. Keep it totally factual.

RavenclawRealist Mon 16-Oct-17 14:45:06

Treat it as if you had hired any other venue , if it was a church, pub village hall ect you had booked and received this service what would you do??

Keep it in personal and factual as pp have said if the school want to provide this service they need to have arrangements in place to fulfill that. The women dose sound unrresonable but it’s the school that are to blame and that is how the complaint should be directed.

redsunstorm Mon 16-Oct-17 14:52:02

Blimey! You were more than fair to her! Whatever her problem NOT your responsibility OP. You paid and arranged those times with the school. I'm not normally one for complaining unless absolutely necessary, but I would deem this as one of those occasions!

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