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Feel let down by CM, should I ask for retainer back?

(20 Posts)
perrinelli Thu 18-Oct-12 13:21:17

Hi everyone, I'm feeling really upset and let down. At the beginning of the summer I arranged for a newly registered CM to do school drop off and pick up twice a week for my DC who is in reception. I paid a retainer for the summer of about £150. After 2.5 weeks of doing it (so 5 actual days) she has given notice because its 'too tiring' and she has to go back and forth to school because her son has after school clubs. I was totally shocked and upset as it seems to have been going well and the cm was very positive, plus my DC really likes her and I really wanted consistency. I'm cross that she didn't foresee the issues but also wonder if there's more to it I.e. maybe she thinks its not worth the effort and wants to have another younger one all day instead or something? Currently she only has 1 1yr old, plus my DC and her son after school 2 days a wk, both mindees get collected at 530pm.

Do you think I can ask for a full or partial refund of my summer retainer? I feel like she's done extremely well out of us getting paid a lot for a very short period of actual childminding. I'm also now in a worse position than if she had never said yes as most of the other cms that do school pick up are full now that term has started.

Ebb Thu 18-Oct-12 13:33:17

I don't know about the legal bits of asking for the retainer back but I'd be pretty pissed off in your shoes and I would definitely ask for it back. Considering she's only done 5 days before deciding if was too much like hard work especially if all the other childminders are now full.

squinker45 Thu 18-Oct-12 13:45:34

Are you within the settling in period? If so then surely the cancellation of the contract should be immediate and your retainer should be returned? Someone with more legal knowledge might be along soon. Morally she should give you your money back, I would be thoroughly outraged if she doesn't.

perrinelli Thu 18-Oct-12 14:22:37

Hmm not sure we are in a settling in period as we did some settling in stuff prior to it starting properly and tbh I wouldn't want her to end it immediately as at the moment I don't have anything else in place. Shes given me 6 weeks. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to find another cm so I am considering taking my younger one out of nursery where she has been for a few wks and getting a nanny to look after them both.
I'm not sure I have a leg to stand on legally really about the retainer but I was thinking more on a moral basis but I expect she'll just say no! And i thought it might be best not to ask until I have something lined up in case I need her for the next six weeks, don't want things to be really sour and haven't told my DC yet.

Italiana Thu 18-Oct-12 15:23:01

I would give NCMA a call and ask for advice on that especially if the c/m uses their contract and has given notice so quickly after the contract started

perrinelli Thu 18-Oct-12 15:53:51

Thankyou - I called ncma and it was their contract but they said they can't give advice to parents unfortunately. I just feel sick about it really. Very stressful! Not had much luck today finding a replacement either.

minderjinx Thu 18-Oct-12 18:28:25

Do you know for sure she's not intending to return the retainer? That would seem wrong to me, and I don't think I know anyone who would do that. I think in your position I would ask her to confirm that the one hundred and fifty pounds you have paid up front will go towards paying for the remaining six weeks she proposes to work, as things evidently haven't worked out the way either of you envisaged, and see what she says.

Italiana Thu 18-Oct-12 21:10:43

Please look at this link as NCMA should give you advice on the contract, retainer and where you stand in your current position

I would be surprised if they cannot help let us know

alibeenherealongtime Fri 19-Oct-12 13:46:07

I'm not surprised about NCMA not helping parents, it's ot the first time I have heard that response, and it was after I advised a parent to contact them.

I do wonder why I am an NCMA member still after 25 years, they seem to be all about nannies and not childminders.

If it was me, I would return the retainer pro rated for the time used.

perrinelli Fri 19-Oct-12 18:01:37

Thanks everyone, I did speak to ncma and they definitely didn't want to get into it, just said I should get legal advice.

I haven't asked the cm about the retainer so don't know for sure she isn't going to return it but she didn't mention it when she was telling me how sorry she was about giving notice. I will broach it next week. Thankfully today I also saw another cm who I have a good feeling about so hopefully we can get something sorted and change at half term.

Italiana Sun 21-Oct-12 11:08:00

If you used a NCMA contract with your c/ms you have the right to use the NCMA legal helpline even if just for have your copy of the contract so ask them for guidance

my feeling is that the c/m started her work as agreed after you paid the retainer to keep your place but now she has changed her mind...because it happened so quickly you should approach her and get it sorted

HSMM Sun 21-Oct-12 11:45:52

I don't think she 'has' to return the retainer, because the space was available to you during the time the retainer was paid. I do however think that you have been let down badly and she will hopefully take this into account. She obviously did not think through what she was able to offer.

MrAnchovy Sun 21-Oct-12 23:52:59

Of course the NCMA cannot advise a parent in a dispute with a childminder, they are the National Childminders Association and childminders pay their membership fee so that the NCMA can advise them on disputes with parents.

MrAnchovy Mon 22-Oct-12 00:02:03

I have come across this situation a few times before. Unfortunately the standard NCMA contract is overly simple with retainers and doesn't deal with this situation fairly.

IMHO it should say that if a retainer is paid the childminder to be obliged to return all or some of it if the contract is subsequently terminated within a short period of time.

You can certainly ask for some of your retainer back, and she may do the right thing, but if she whips the contract out and says "but it doesn't say that here" I wouldn't fancy your chances.

perrinelli Tue 23-Oct-12 22:22:55

Thanks everyone - I asked her if some if not all the retainer could go towards what we now owe her and got a flat no. I've paid her now as I just want to draw a line under it and move on.

I would say though to any parents reading this - Do NOT agree to pay a retainer unless there is a clause in the contract stating that the retainer will be fully or partly refundable should notice be given by the childminder early on e.g. within the first month or something. I'll have to put this one down to experience. sad

MrAnchovy Tue 23-Oct-12 22:27:26

"Do NOT agree to pay a retainer unless there is a clause in the contract stating that the retainer will be fully or partly refundable should notice be given by the childminder early on e.g. within the first month or something."

I would look for three months, or at least the period during which the retainer has been paid. If the childminder objects, you can ask her why - is she intending to stop CMing?

Italiana Wed 24-Oct-12 21:44:23

I do agree Mr Anchovy that a retainer should be paid back if notice is given within a short period without a reasonable cause...I find this case strange as the c/m must have known what she was taking on..... but what if there was a more serious reason for giving notice such as illness apart from those listed in the contract itself?

I agree NCMA contract is simple, actually it is very repetitive and I have to add my own prospectus, registration and terms & conditions to cover the EYFS requirements and hundreds of details missing

NCMA does give advice to parents and, in my view, it would have been helpful to give this parent some support without taking sides and maybe take on board that retainers should be better explained in their contract?

NCMA does not advice c/ms on disputes if they do not use NCMA contracts
and in the near future it will be name will be announced very shorthly as it is widening its membership

I actually think I will post the question of retainer in their forum and see what the reply is...never know may get a review of the contract

alibeenherealongtime Thu 25-Oct-12 15:41:20

mr anchovy NCMA did used to have a parent helpline and it was detailed with specific times that they were welcome to call, but like most of the services NCMA used to offer it is no longer specified.

I have been a member since the organisation started and it is no longer one I recognise or proud to be a member of, I gave them 10 years as a County rep and was one of the first members of an NCMA network which has ceased to exist. NCMA is all about nannies and others, no longer childminders hence having to change their name as it was no longer true!

Italiana Thu 25-Oct-12 22:06:08

The change in name is to widen the membership to other professionals...however I doubt many are queueing up to join considering the high cost of membership and evrything else that is chargeable including training
c/ms support will be diluted...whatever the new name I will not be that bothered and the vast majority are against it

Other organizations are open to c/ms such as Pre-school Learning Alliance (PLA) but they have no intention of rebranding
I am a member of several organizations and in the end I will go for the one that best represents this time no one is and I tend to speak up for myself

Italiana Thu 25-Oct-12 22:07:21

I would like to add that we are deviating from the subject initially posted but worth our opinions !!!

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