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"Refundable deposit" non refundable - whether to pursue this?

(16 Posts)
Zapata29 Tue 25-Jun-19 10:16:25

Reserved a space for DS at a local nursery, he was then offered a place at a different nursery where he'd been on the waiting list so decided to go with that one instead, informed first nursery he would not be going there and they will not refund the £50 deposit. We figured this might be the case but I find the wording on the paperwork we returned misleading:

A returnable deposit of £100 for a full time space or £50 for a part time space is required to secure your place at [said nursery]*.
Followed by info on fees and no more specific details regarding the deposit. They have said the deposit is refundable only if the child attends nursery and once they leave, but the person we spoke to when visiting really made it seem like it would be returned if we changed our minds and the paperwork IMO doesn't make that clear at all because there is simply no information about the conditions of the deposit.

Is this worth pursuing or should I kiss my £50 goodbye? I understand they can't just have people reserving and cancelling places all the time but what annoys me is feeling like I was tricked into paying a deposit believing we could change our mind and get it back if we wanted to.

OP’s posts: |
Zapata29 Tue 25-Jun-19 10:18:10

Sorry, title should read "returnable/non-returnable".

OP’s posts: |
Lisette1940 Tue 25-Jun-19 10:27:41

It sounds like the person you were dealing with didn't understand the deposit conditions. I'd probably leave the £50 and put it down to experience.

costacoffeecup Tue 25-Jun-19 11:24:34

They mean they will return it by knocking it off the fees when you start I think. That's what our two nurseries did.

costacoffeecup Tue 25-Jun-19 11:25:26

And if you think about it there's no point in taking a deposit otherwise.

captaincorellisvaseline Tue 25-Jun-19 11:33:04

It's refundable if you go on to use the space. If you could put down a deposit then claim it back when you change your mind, what's the point?

drowningincustard Tue 25-Jun-19 11:41:06

Leave it - think about the point of deposits...
You have the security of a place, they have the security of some contribution for their admin if you choose to go elsewhere.
I would read it as returnable if you go on to take the place there and gets knocked off the other money you end up paying them.
I could live with a £50 deposit in a scenario like this. Many private nurseries have much higher deposits and in those scenarios you need to absolutely understand the exact terms before handing over the cash as I've heard many of them will keep the full amount which can be more like £250-£500

TheInvestigator Tue 25-Jun-19 11:43:44

Only refundable when you use the space. It's to ensure they hold it for you. If you don't use the space, they've still held it for you and that fee covers it. Now they need to fill the space.

MeanMrMustardSeed Tue 25-Jun-19 11:44:25

PP correct - if you take up the space, you get the amount knocked off. Otherwise, you lose it. Standard practice in my experience.

Happyspud Tue 25-Jun-19 11:46:48

It’s a deposit on the full price. You only get it back if you pay the full price. Did you not understand what a deposit was?

Zapata29 Tue 25-Jun-19 12:24:55

I understand what a deposit is, thanks. If this is standard for nurseries that's all I really need to know but I wanted some clarification since as I explained what was stated in the paperwork was unclear (to me) and the person who showed me around implied it was to hold the place and would be refunded if we didn't go which isn't the case.

OP’s posts: |
Omzlas Tue 25-Jun-19 12:25:55

They didn't decline a place, you chose a different nursery. I wouldn't refund your deposit either. I wouldn't chase it because of a choice YOU made.

GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat Tue 25-Jun-19 12:27:04

Of course it’s standard. It’s a two way street, they don’t provide security if a space without expecting something in return. What would be the point?

itsaboojum Fri 05-Jul-19 07:49:35

If you leave this and do nothing you may well be losing your deposit unnecessarily, and not just because the contract is misleading.

Don’t just accept a business can keep your money, even if you only cancelled because you changed your mind. Just because it’s in the contract does not automatically mean it is fair and legally enforceable.

Even if this deposit had been written into the contract properly (which it wasn’t) and explained properly (which it wasn’t), the nursery would only be able to retain some or all of it in certain circumstances.

At most, the nursery can keep sufficient money to cover losses arising as a direct result of your cancellation. So, if they can fill the place with another child, then they’ve not lost very much an can’t withhold much of your money. Moreover, they must be able to demonstrate they are actively taking such steps to mitigate this sort of loss: for instance, keeping a waiting list to fill this sort of vacancy.

If they can fill the space, or cannot show they’ve make an effort to do so, then all they can really keep is a few pounds to cover administration costs (ie. forms and suchlike.)

Assuming the information given in your original post is correct, this nursery will find it even harder than usual to keep your money, because they never designated the deposit as "non-returnable" until you cancelled it. On the contrary, they did everything to tell you it was "returnable" then moved the goalposts just as you wanted to reclaim it. It would be hard to find a more clear example of the word "misleading."

itsaboojum Fri 05-Jul-19 10:43:41


In order to get a fuller picture of your rights, would you please answer the following:

1. How far in advance of the start date did you notify the nursery that you would not be using their service?

2. Did you make the original booking by phone, mail, online, or face-to-face?
3. Were you approached by the nursery at home, or your place of work, or anywhere other than their business premises?

4. Did you sign the contract at the nursery premises or somewhere else?

5. How soon after signing the contract did you notify the nursery that you would not be using their services?

I know some of these sound odd or trivial, but in consumer contracts they are very important. Some of these situations entitle the consumer to a no-obligations cooling-off period. They also confer upon the business a legal duty to inform you of that cooling-off period. In some cases, it is a criminal offence for the business not to make you aware of your rights.

itsaboojum Fri 05-Jul-19 10:51:22

You appear to have a pretty strong case for getting at least some, possibly all of your money back. It shouldn’t take more than the correct knowledge, a firm stance and a couple of appropriate letters.

If nursery gets difficult, you may need a solicitor's letter for support. Check your home insurance policy: they often cover a reasonable amount of legal fees. If you don’t wish to engage a solicitor, then use Citizens Advice instead. They can give you a letter or a copy of the relevance legal guidance instead.

Don’t forget that the prospect of an investigation by local trading standards officials can move even the most obstinate businesses towards compliance.

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