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Unfair nursery?

(21 Posts)
Carla Fri 07-Nov-03 12:37:07

A fortnight ago I and another mother from our Montessori nursery were told that our dds had a place in the local state nursery from next term. Our nursery has a one term's notice policy to change any sessions or give notice of withdrawal.

I spoke to our nursery supervisor who said that head office were usually OK about reducing sessions (DD will go to state nursery mornings only) but not cancelling them completely. When I telephoned HO they said that I could take DD afternoons only but they would still charge me the full amount (thanks very much!)

Meanwhile, other mum has written to nursery telling them she is a single mum whose circumstances have changed and she simply wouldn't be able to afford next term's fees, and she's been let off completely scott free! Now I know this mum fairly well and the only circumstances that have changed are that her child's got into the state nursery, but couldn't tell HO that as I didn't want to 'shop' her.

Am completely hacked off at having to pay £1000 for nothing (don't even want DD to go to Montessori nursery in the afternoons) but even more hacked off at the seemingly double standards applied to whether or not you have to pay a term's fees.

Any thoughts anyone?

marialuisa Fri 07-Nov-03 12:42:36

I think the other mum has been a bit cunning. The company is much more likely to be sympathetic to a single mum etc..

TBH I think the nursery is being unfair, esp as there is no way you could have given the notice. Could you just say that you don't want your DD there for any sessions and see if they pursue it? Although lots of private schools/nuresries have this policy it's rarely worth their while to enforce it, legal costs would be more than fees and it's bad publicity.

doormat Fri 07-Nov-03 12:45:20

agree with marialuisa

lucy123 Fri 07-Nov-03 12:46:58

It may be that the nursery has let the other mum off simply becasue they know that if she does take her child out of the nursery and doesn't pay, there is pretty much bugger all they can do about it. Well, they can take her to the small claims court, but that will cost them money and time and even if they win she will only have to pay "what she can afford" which may be very little.

Did you actually sign anything agreeing to the 1 term's notice? If not, then I would withdraw your child and refuse to pay. But even if you did, I think you have a very good chance of getting away with it. In my experience, people rarely go to court over not giving notice: this is presumably because they rarely win (but a lawyer would know more than me).

Alternatively, how about giving a term's notice *now* and only paying half a term's fees?

Carla Fri 07-Nov-03 12:47:46

I did wrestle with my conscience about this, and I know a lot of people will frown on me, but if I say she's not going there at all next term they won't be able to clain the grant for her and I'll be saddled with a bill for £1,350 for nothing instead.

LIZS Fri 07-Nov-03 12:59:05

Do they have a waiting list ? IMO if they can fill the place, even part time, then you should be credited for it at the very least. Also I think that the State Nursery will get funding on your dd's behalf, even if there are no fees, so the LEA may pick up if the other one tries to claim too.

Carla Fri 07-Nov-03 13:09:32

Oh my God LIZS, I was worried about that. I quizzed friends with children already at the state nursery and they can't remember having signed anything, but DH thinks that's the case too. No, they don't have a waiting list, but I thought that was good - at least they haven't had to turn anyone away who could have generated fees for them because of me.

marialuisa Fri 07-Nov-03 13:11:06

Good point, state nursery is likely to be claiming the vouchers so Montessori can't claim them. Honestly, pull her out and then see what they do. My mum has got away wit this several times, in one case the nursery tried to claim the fees in lieu of notice even though another child filled the space the next day. They can be very cheeky.

marialuisa Fri 07-Nov-03 13:12:32

You don't sign things for state places, but they still get the funding from the LEA. This is why many schools now take all 4 year olds in september, they get more funds.

tigermoth Fri 07-Nov-03 13:15:17

this seems really unfair, Carla. I take it that your montessori nursery will be easily able to get another child in to take your child's place next term? As long as the nursery is not going to be out of pocket, I can't see why you should pay them a penny, if you are giving in your notice now - I mean this is 2 months before the start of next term.

I think you should try everything to get your montessori nursery to agree you pay fees only till the end of this term. But if all else fails, you should then tell them you know they have wiaved the notice policy with other parents. If pressed, you can name the mother in question. You don't have to say that you know she is not as hard up as she says. But you can point out that you could have made up a story about changed circumstances and so, presumably, they would have let you off too.
Good Luck

Carla Fri 07-Nov-03 13:21:12

Tigermoth, I did try that. I did ask why I wasn't being allowed to reduce sessions when I knew of another mother who wasn't being forfeited at all (I didn't name her, the woman at HO did so herself). She just said that that mother had exceptional circumstances. Goodness knows what she told them...

tigermoth Fri 07-Nov-03 13:34:27

OK, if push comes to shove and you are sure the nursery won't forget the money they say you owe, and it is not in a contract, and they will not be out of pocket, can you give in your notice now, wait few weeks and tell them some story about sudden changed circimstances too? A big lie and not very nice to have to do, but what have you got to lose? if they have already admitted they have wiaved the fees to another mother due to exceptional circs, then they can't easily refuse you.

Carla Fri 07-Nov-03 13:38:53

They will have made me sign something somewhere along the line, and they're the sort of money grabbing b.....ds that will say they couldn't fill the place even if they could. And I fear they'd smell a rat now, having previously begged.

marialuisa Fri 07-Nov-03 13:47:42

carla, could you just cancel any direct-debits and say "the cheques in the post"...? Otherwise mention that you'll be getting your friend at the local newspaper to do an investigation into the nursery, double standards etc..

Carla Fri 07-Nov-03 13:53:07

Thanks Marialuisa. Crazily I elected to pay termly by cheque.

Carla Fri 07-Nov-03 14:00:26

OOps! Before you all think I'm loaded and can afford it anyway, I paid by cheque as I don't have a current account, just a savings one!

marialuisa Fri 07-Nov-03 14:13:44

What, you've paid nect term's fees already? DD's school won't take fees for the next term before the day before tem starts....

carla Wed 11-Feb-04 21:08:16

We've done it!!! Got a letter from nursery today - thanks to friend's letter got off £1,303. What shall I get her, her girl, or her family?

tigermoth Thu 12-Feb-04 07:09:25

carla, really glad you were let off the financial hook. Were the nursery that concerned about a reporter from the newspaper doing an investigation? That's a bit worrying. Or do you think they are just ultra nervous about any publicity that they can't control?

marialuisa Thu 12-Feb-04 08:46:46

Really good news, I think wine/chocs/flowers for friends are in order!

carla Thu 12-Feb-04 10:32:18

Gave all the stuff I had to my friend, who worked out that when I signed my contract eight weeks verbal notice was required. They subsequently changed it to one term's written notice - not just on new entrants to the nursery. Therefore (she wrote!) they were in breach of contract by attempting to impose a more onerous notice period than that stated in my original contract.

They replied:

We have loooked at the contraact that you have signed with us and it is one of the few that was signed under the old terms and conditions. Therefore we will accept the notice that you gave us and will not pursue you for any further fees. Sorry for any inconvenience blah blah blah....

Yeah, right. Shame they didn't look at the contract back in November! And I don't believe I'm the only person with this contract - loads of others started at the same time as Alex.

Thank god for friends!

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