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Getting a refund of 13+ deposit in London

(128 Posts)
February7 Sat 13-Feb-16 08:31:17

I wonder if anyone can help me?

I paid a non-refundable deposit of £2000 to secure 13+ place for my child at a London day school. This school was one of 2 back up plan schools in case my child failed favoured school at CE.

Back up school 1 held entry exams earlier than all London day schools and wouldn't let me hold the offer we received for place 2 weeks until I got results of Back up school 2 exam. We landed up paying 2 deposits as back up school 1 was not for us.. Non-refundable... And then our child was successful at CE at favourite school.

As soon as I heard that my child had got into back up school 2 we called school 1 and told them 1.5 terms in advance that our cold would not be attending. They filled the space dozens of times over and refused to refund the deposit, in stark contrast to the other London school who returned the 2,000 saying it would be "immoral" to keep it as his school was full.

Can anyone suggest how I can approach this best? Or recommend a lawyer who could help?

I'd like to explore the legality of school not refunding a place-holding deposit of £2,000 even though

1. I have given 1.5 terms notice in February that my child would not start school in September.
2. The place were all filled
3. Is non-refundable deposit permitted in these circumstance, by legislation or charities regulation?

In my view this school has simply moved its entrance exams to before everyone else's cynically, knowing well that it is a back up school and using this system of taking deposits as a cash cow from London parents where there are few private schools around.

Any help/thoughts much appreciated

icclemunchy Sat 13-Feb-16 08:43:07

You paid a non refundable deposit so of course they won't refund it. It's not their fault you were using them as a back up and you knew when you paid it it was non refundable.

I presume you wouldn't of been happy if you had wanted the space and they said actually we've decided to go with someone else.

prh47bridge Sat 13-Feb-16 08:57:34

I agree with icclemunchy. You knew the deposit was non-refundable when you paid it. There is no basis on which you can demand its return. A non-refundable deposit acts as a guarantee that you will fulfil your side of the bargain by sending your child to this school. You have chosen to pull out of the bargain. The school is therefore entitled to keep your deposit.

If this had been a part payment it would be different. You may then be able to get some of your money back although the school would still be entitled to cover their administration costs and any loss of profit. But it was clear to you that this was a non-refundable deposit.

The bottom line is that non-refundable means just that.

SevenOfNineTrue Sat 13-Feb-16 09:08:27

You can pay a solicitor to look into this but it will only be more expenditure as the school would have checked they could do this before they put it in place.

February7 Sat 13-Feb-16 09:21:42

Ah! It was actually a deposit but to be set against first terms fees. I don't agree that I would certainly lose this. The difference between this and other cases is that I gave notice of over 6 months, and can clearly demonstrate that the school mitigated their loss. This deposit requirement is punitive over this timeframe. I'd agree that a minimum of 1 terms notice would be fair and reasonable, and consistent with terms notice that other parents are required to give. Have zero get out is also not what you'd expect from a school conferred with charitable status, surely that's inconsistent with the status?

February7 Sat 13-Feb-16 09:28:49

Anyway, I shall test this. I shall also make a formal complaint to the ombudsman and write as much as I can about this unearned revenue school are keeping hold of -immorally as one Head of London day school has said to me in an email. Great news too is that a writer contact is looking into this for her National paper too.

I was hoping to find a lawyer on here who was interested in exploring this and had the expertise to explore all relevant areas of law. One doesn't just accept unreasonable clauses. The days of non-refundable deposits by a cartel of oversubscribed schools should be over.

cakeisalwaystheanswer Sat 13-Feb-16 10:13:43

I know a few wealthy parents who happily lost deposits just because they wanted to keep their options open. I think it is unacceptable that these parents keep places just as backups at more than one school when there are other children on the waitlist for over a year desperate for a place.

The whole point of demanding a decent non-refundable deposit is for parents to show a commitment to that school. If schools start refunding deposits people will be able to keep all their options open until Feb of Y8, blocking up many school places and this would cause huge uncertainty for those still waiting for a school place. I think the head who refunded your deposit is wrong, the current system works because it is only abused by the very wealthy and selfish who can afford to lose deposits.

Do you have any thought at all for the children you blocked from getting offers? Sometimes everything isn't about you.

GloriaHotcakes Sat 13-Feb-16 10:17:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

February7 Sat 13-Feb-16 10:31:34

Hi cakeisalways the answer

You actually have zero idea about whether me or anyone else who takes a back up place is "very wealthy". As opposed to just play wealthy ie wealthy enough to pay school fees in the first place!

Your outburst is pointless, rude and unnecessary. Cowardly too!

peteneras Sat 13-Feb-16 10:35:59

You sound very bitter about this whole episode, OP. Did you or did you not, sign an agreement (contract) with the school that the deposit is non-refundable? Surely, you didn’t walk into it blindly without understanding what this deal is all about. You have already admitted you used this school as a ‘back-up school’ and I assume this school in question wasn’t founded yesterday and didn’t know what this game is all about. Your application to the school would involve them having to spend time dealing with your application carefully, e.g tests, interview, etc. and other admin costs.

Put it another way, if this was the only school you have, e.g. the other favourite school wasn’t successful, and this school now says, ‘Sorry, your place is given to another applicant from China’ who paid us £10,000 how do you like it?

I say, count yourself lucky this is not about buying a London house whereby you’d lose 20 times more than that when you rescind on your contract to purchase. What’s more, your child’s education is more important than a London property.

BeachysFlipFlops Sat 13-Feb-16 10:36:40

I think Cakes point was that the school held a place for your child, as they assumed by paying a deposit, that you would take up the place. Therefore they probably told another child that they were full.

Multiple deposit paying, at the levels described by you, is the preserve of the fairly rich, TBH!

peteneras Sat 13-Feb-16 10:45:05

"Any help/thoughts much appreciated"

It doesn't look like it by the way you had a go at cakeisalways . . .

SavoyCabbage Sat 13-Feb-16 10:45:56

I agree with Cake. The deposit is to show that you are committed. If everyone put down deposits at multiple schools and then everyone got those deposits back, then there would be no point in the deposits at all. Why not use a jar of jam as a deposit instead?

LIZS Sat 13-Feb-16 10:47:01

Good luck with that! Presumably it was clearly non refundable when you signed the acceptance form.

cakeisalwaystheanswer Sat 13-Feb-16 10:47:52

What? The only people I know from our prep who kept multiple offers were very wealthy because they could afford to lose the deposits. And Cowardly? really? Why? because I think you are completely selfish, maybe take a good hard look at yourself.

No I don't know you and I really wouldn't want to. I think two London schools have had a very luck escape.

February7 Sat 13-Feb-16 11:01:14

It's an interesting experience being on this platform. I have clearly not explained well enough how the current schooling entrance system forces many parents to enter into this deposit game they mostly can ill afford to secure their kids a few paying school place. If the CE system did not allow schools to opt out of the uniform process then it would be easy to chose schools 1,2,3,4 as with maintained schools. Anyhow, I apologise to those who feel so hard done by in this system they have elected to be a part of. The real problem is not some parents, like me, being able to afford to pay several deposits, but it's the system. Thanks for your time - except mrs cakeseater. Im a first (and last time) user of this platform. I now understand the power of anonymous mobs & why our kids suffer so! it's pretty odd to get so very personal about a legal question.

slebmum1 Sat 13-Feb-16 11:01:58

You paid a non-refundable deposit. Assuming you signed a contract then why should they refund it?

SelfRaisingFlour Sat 13-Feb-16 11:28:42

You just didn't get the answer you wanted. You signed a contract and were told it was non refundable. I think getting a solicitor would just be a waste of money.

I can't wait to see the "sad face" article in the newspaper.

prh47bridge Sat 13-Feb-16 11:54:14

It was actually a deposit but to be set against first terms fees. I don't agree that I would certainly lose this

You may not agree but the courts will. It was a non-refundable deposit. Whether or not they have been able to mitigate their loss is irrelevant. The timeframe is irrelevant. The fact it would be set against the first terms fees is irrelevant. You signed up to a contract involving a non-refundable deposit. That is the only fact that matters. You can try to recover it if you want but you will be throwing good money after bad.

You wanted legal advice. You have been given legal advice. I'm sorry you don't like that advice but contract law is clear. As long as you knew the deposit was non-refundable when you paid it is indeed non-refundable.

February7 Sat 13-Feb-16 12:23:38

Gulp! Scary!

February7 Sat 13-Feb-16 12:32:11

....and I don't agree with that legal advice, it's simplistic. It's quite a complex legal point, not simple contract law about the deposit being non-refundable but impacted by charities regulation too, and recent case law, hence search for expert. And I did not actually sign anything.

LIZS Sat 13-Feb-16 12:33:15

Sendng the cheque implies you agreed to the terms and conditions. You must have signed a registration form.

IAmPissedOffWithAHeadmaster Sat 13-Feb-16 12:35:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Waitingandhoping2015 Sat 13-Feb-16 13:03:33

Comedy thread of the year so far! Well said to anyone above that has somehow managed to notice the 'non-refundable' part of the 'non-refundable deposit' which the OP was clearly unable (or in hindsight at least) to see.

Rodney...

grin grin grin grin grin grin

AnotherParadox Sat 13-Feb-16 13:13:12

Good luck with that.

I think you've (tried) to play a really crafty and expensive game here which has now come back to bite you on the bum!

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