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Nursery inflexibility

(46 Posts)
workingdad1980 Wed 04-May-16 14:39:21

I'm wondering how others have coped with this issue and also whether anyone has a handle on the legality:

We applied for a nursery place Mon-Thurs and had those days RESERVED to start in June.

My wife has decided to delay going back to work so naturally asked the nursery to push the start date back to August.

Her work and grandparent childcare for a day situation has also changed and we now only need Mon, Tues and Thurs. So want to drop Wednesday.

Nursery want us to pay from June regardless and drop Thursday / Monday not Wednesday.

Is this standard practice that others have found?

Has anyone successfully argued against it and what strategy did they use?

Under trading standards and other legislation can a nursery dictate what days you can and can't drop?

I feel like I'm the if I don't want Wednesday anymore then at the maximum I should be able to give a month's notice and drop Wednesday. Not be told it has to be Thursday or Monday.

As an aside their argument is the same if I wanted to drop my older child who attends down a day. They would have the say over which day, and indeed whether I could / he gets removed altogether.

I get they have other people on waiting lists but my business is with them not other people.

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Wolfiefan Wed 04-May-16 14:41:52

You have a contract. What does it say? If they are following that then I'm sorry but there's not much you can do.
They are a business. They have to employ the correct number of staff and ensure an income. Plus there are strict rules about staff/child ratios.

Stylingwax Wed 04-May-16 14:45:04

Sorry but I think you're being unreasonable. They'll have staff to adult ratios they're working to, and if you now don't need the space till later you either take your child off their list or pay till you place them.
Doesn't matter what strategy you employ.

MrsLeighHalfpenny Wed 04-May-16 14:45:49

The nursery will probably have turned away people wanting places from June so they'll be losing money for the four days you've decided not to take up until August. That's quite a lot of money.

They have adult:child ratios they need to stick to. It sounds as if they can't accommodate your child on a Wednesday, but they can on a Tuesday.

Take it or leave it. They can't take more children than they're registered/have adults for.
And it's not fair to not pay for days you've reserved but have decided not to use.

LIZS Wed 04-May-16 14:46:14

What is the notice period for cancellation? Effectively you are cancelling Wednesday and two months of childcare. They may well have held the place open to the exclusion of another child and arranged staffing for your original days. The ratios are strict for young children so it may not work for this reason for you to drop Wednesday. It is normal to be charged a retainer if you expect them to hold the place as they cannot fill it otherwise.

workingdad1980 Wed 04-May-16 14:54:07

The notice period for full cancellation is one month.

I can see the June / August argument...but would expect some better flexibility, they are after all getting number of years money out of us. Not a lot of businesses in other industries are so hard noses compared to childcare.

I also am perplexed as to why I can't reduce days now or later. Life and circumstance changes and what they're effectively saying is that even in three years time I can't reduce the days.

I understand there might never be room to increase the days, but reduce sounds just a little too set in stone.

OP’s posts: |
sarahbanshee Wed 04-May-16 15:09:26

If the notice period for cancellation is one month then you're not guaranteed to stay with them for years, are you?

I think you have to accept that if you want to drop a day you may have to accept some compromise with the nursery.

workingdad1980 Wed 04-May-16 15:24:52

But why do I need to compromise?

Let me put it a different way...if one decided to drop Sky Sports from a Sky package because I no longer want to watch live sport, but retain the other Sky TV elements would you expect Sky to turn around and refuse or insist you took on another element in return. On the basis that they need the provision for staff retention and future investment in programming?

When did the consumer lose their rights, aside from the nuclear option of full cancellation?

On staying with them guarantees...I guess they'd have to take my word for it based on our other child being there for three years. Much like any customer service relationship.

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LemonBreeland Wed 04-May-16 15:28:48

The nursery need to have capacity most days to try and make some money/break even. They have a certain availability, if it doesn't match what you want then it won't work.

You can't compare it to Sky. It really isn't that simple. There are ratios to consider and room sizes.

LIZS Wed 04-May-16 15:28:49

But they are not trying to make you do an extra day. You want to drop one, as far as I can tell that is ok as long as the one you drop suits their staffing levels.

LemonBreeland Wed 04-May-16 15:30:05

Also nurseries are often over subscribed, so they are in a position to pick and choose.

sarahbanshee Wed 04-May-16 15:35:12

Think of it more like Tesco deliveries of your shopping. You ordered shopping to be delivered on Thursday. You now want to change delivery to Friday and Tesco say there is no van available on Friday, but you can have Saturday, or stick to Thursday. Disappointing, maybe, but not hard to understand.

workingdad1980 Wed 04-May-16 15:42:11


I think you hit the nail squarely on the head...they rely on the fact that if I don't lump it then they'll find another mug to quite easily.

The problem is I don't think that's the right way to provide a customer service, and is a polar opposite to the way other service providers work to improve their NPS etc.

Yes be a business but if it's all about the bottom line and not about providing the best options to the customer that it can, then how does that help working mums who make a decision months ago and then when it comes nearer the time and things have changed for them find themselves stuck with something that only suits the company filling its profit line.

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workingdad1980 Wed 04-May-16 15:44:36

Sarahbanshee that Tesco scenario is a one-off...if I have a delivery every Thursday and Friday, but all of a sudden want to change to Friday and Saturday going forward then Tesco should be able to accommodate.

Equally if I decide that I no longer want shopping delivered on both days and only on Thursday then Tesco should allow me to drop the day without cancelling both.

OP’s posts: |
LemonBreeland Wed 04-May-16 15:47:54

It is one of the reasons that I have avoided nurseries. I have a childminder who is much more flexible. Although there are childminders who are as inflexible as nurseries.

sarahbanshee Wed 04-May-16 15:48:25

Well, OK, you think the nursery is giving you terrible customer service and they should be more flexible. But they won't. So your choices are, move things around so you can fit round the days they will accommodate, or cancel your place altogether. Ranting and talking about trading standards is not going to help. They're entitled to set these conditions and you have to accept them if you want to do business with them.

To be honest you sound as though the relationship between you and the nursery may be breaking down anyway so walking away may be the best solution.

workingdad1980 Wed 04-May-16 16:04:24

I'm not sure I'm ranting, but fine.

I'm genuinely interested in the legal position though / trading standards, of effectively signing a contract just to reserve a place in the queue for days.

If anyone is able to give a considered view on that angle it would be useful.

OP’s posts: |
sarahbanshee Wed 04-May-16 16:08:44

This is my considered view! This is not an unfair contract term, and you have no recourse to trading standards or other consumer protection under the law. You are a disappointed consumer but you are not an unfairly treated consumer and from what you have described the breach is yours, not the nursery's, and they are entitled to act as they have been.

Sorry if you don't like the answer but there is no legal recourse.

AndNowItsSeven Wed 04-May-16 16:08:52

The nursery should make you pay for Wednesday's until one month after your original June start date.

VeryPunny Wed 04-May-16 16:21:20

No offence, but you do sound rather up your own arse, OP. Is this your PFB, by any chance?

You have reserved spaces from June. You suddenly turn around and say, actually, we don't need space until August, and we don't want to pay you until August. What should the nursery do to the staff members it is paying over June and July whilst receiving no income from you? A nursery could get around this by employing lots of bank staff, calling them in when necessary, but this doesn't exactly lead to stable staffing, which is ultimately for the children's benefit.

Nursery costs are not liquid - they need to pay them regardless and usually can't make big changes to their costs within the timescale of a month (your notice period). You are not doing your nursery a favour by bestowing them with your custom; it may be better for the nursery to take another child whose needs better fit in with their available slots.

Also, I wouldn't base my decision on whether a nursery is a good place for my child based on what you perceive to be unfair business practices. They're looking after your kids, FGS, not delivering tins of beans. If you want to reduce it to a customer/business transaction, then you are perfectly able to find another nursery. You might not find many who will accommodate you as you might wish. Supply and demand, and all that....

workingdad1980 Wed 04-May-16 16:28:07


I'd be happy to do that, but it's all Wednesdays or nothing...

One month notice would be fair to me.

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VeryPunny Wed 04-May-16 16:29:43

FWIW, it's not uncommon to take the days that nursery offer and then move to your preferred days as they become available.

workingdad1980 Wed 04-May-16 16:30:45


As far as I have just been advised, there is no legal basis to a. make me pay the costs for June / July and b. not drop Wednesdays.

The only spectre of doom available to the nursery is that they are entitled to cancel the whole agreement.

this is where they have the consumer bent over a barrel.

OP’s posts: |
fuzzyfozzy Wed 04-May-16 16:31:42

I'm a childminder. If you wanted to put back your start date and is been holding a place for you, I'd be asking for half fees until you started.
Re the days, it sounds like they've had another child come up and they think they can take both on if you change days. You're right to give a months notice to change days. They might have heard you've got other childcare that makes you flexible. Just stand your ground.

LIZS Wed 04-May-16 16:35:01

But you didn't sign a contract to join a queue, you booked those 4 days. Now you are asking to vary that by dropping a day and deferring the start date. Maybe in time they could accommodate your wishes, when a child moves up age group for example, but in the meantime you should work around what days they can offer. Next child on the list may need a Thursday. They may also feel that a block of consecutive days will help with settling in.

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