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Outstanding Fee's


Rea
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One of our children has stopped coming owing £217.00. At first they didnt attend because they were moving house but each week passed and he was a no show. I spoke to mom last week by phone, very nicely asked after her son, she told me he wasnt coming back, he got upset when she mentioned playgroup so she wasnt going to push him. He's got a nursery place for September so she'll keep him at home for now. I said I hope he manages to settle, had a chat about children in general and then told her she owes the money. Complete silence. Said she hadnt realised (but playleader had asked her loads of times before she finally stopped coming) she said she would drop it round. A week later, nothing!

Now, I can write to her but if she doesnt respond what do I do next? Small claims court?

Edited by Rea
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Hmm, Rea, It's a tricky one, isn't it. If you don't have a policy already for fee collection that spells out the various stages for collection then you possibly should consider having one. There's a few on here, mine is I know, which was adapted from another one from the forum. You could send her a copy of that - if you have their new address. We adopted one when we had a parent leave in similar circumstances, but had no change of address. We looked into small claims, but decided that the stress of it was too high for the amount owing.

Yours is a larger amount though, so it may be worth it, I don't know. What does your staff/committee think?

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We have a fee's policy but as they were moving house and we knew they might not be around for a week or two we couldnt do much. When they popped back erratically the playleader would remind them and they always responded with surprise and guilt 'Oh no, I forgot to bring it again, definitly next time'. But next time didnt come, they just stopped coming. Our policy says we will give the childs place to another on our waiting list and we will chase debts, but I dont know how to chase a debt. Is it worth small claims, or even a solisitors letter for this sum?

 

 

 

I have another one who owes £54, she's been given a letter and on Monday I'm going to turn her away if money isnt forthcoming!!! Might need a drink afterwards!!

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We have the same thing £175 outstanding they have moved on (fibs I think) but i have written this off but now I am MUCH wiser and will not let it happen again.

Have another one week payer with outstanding payment £327 all child keeps talking about is going on holiday to Egypt on a plane (its true) I gritt my teeth!!!!!!! :oxD:( we are just a pack away!!!! not a big chain!!!

Edited by Bigsue
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I think it's going to have to be your decision about whether or not you want to pursue it. You could say (as my Preschool assistant put it) "We've had our bottoms smacked and won't let it get this high again before acting" or send her a strongly worded letter and a bill explaining what will happen next if payment is not forthcoming within 7 days.

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Just drafted a letter asking for outstanding money to be sent, but I wont hold my breath. It has been a lesson though, which is why I've pounced on the other one so firmly.

 

Bigsue, I'd do what I'm doing, stop them coming. I really dont want to do this to a child, its not their fault, but its got to stop. If word gets out that we're easy to steal from - yes steal! it'll continue.

When my children went to playgroup we had no tax credits and family allowance was next to nothing but I paid my fees and it was so difficult to find £3.00 for a week. Its not on. I'm really quite angry :o

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Hi - we have had similar situation , family run up sizeable bill ( over £200) and then moved on . We had a multitude of excuses and a bounced cheque. We didnt pursue it through small claims as I its an expense to do that . Trouble is in all our businesses we put children first and let them keep coming . We did learn our lesson though and now 'nip things in the bud' promptly when payments aren't met . We did however have an 'off the record' chat on the phone to the new setting they went to not allow them anything without payment first as we would have hated for someone else like ourselves to be out of pocket too . Dizzzzz

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We did however have an 'off the record' chat on the phone to the new setting they went to not allow them anything without payment first as we would have hated for someone else like ourselves to be out of pocket too . Dizzzzz

 

 

Something I'm planning if I can just find out exacvtly where they went :o

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we are in the same boat for similiar amount. To put a stop to them leaving at end of summer we withdraw any paid sessions or paid lunch clubs if owing us money. but never withdraw funded sessions. so for example a child who's lunch bill was accumulating from the beg of the year and hadnt paid by summer term had lunch clubs withdrawn to stop fees getting any higher but they came 5 half days but this particlur child owing alot of money now didnt claim his funding sessions with us at all so paid sessions were withdrawn completly after plenty of notice and chance to pay. ofcourse he has left now so still need to get money and we too are thinking of going to small claims court so will be following post too! Incidently it was once pointed out to me when we were struggling to get £100 from a parent (I was feeling guilty for) who was in account of benefits but enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle never the less thank u very much :o that a group of dedicated parents had baked and sold cakes on our cake stall to raise that money and it was only fair we tried to get it back! a solicitors letter did work in this case.

Andrea

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Check the wording of your exclusion policy - if you have one - to make sure that you haven't said anything about children being excluded for non-payment of fees .......

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It makes me SO cross whenever this topic comes up, and it seems to be becoming more of an issue for us all...

 

Childminders are told to take fees in advance to avoid large debts running up, and having been caught out years ago, I now make sure I follow the NCMA advice!

 

It strikes me that between all of us on here we must have a friendly "legal eagle" client or parent who could find out where we stand and the best way to proceed in terms of policy wording and procedures to follow up outstanding fees.

 

Nona

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Check the wording of your exclusion policy - if you have one - to make sure that you haven't said anything about children being excluded for non-payment of fees .......

...and check with the Code of Practice for the delivery of the free entitlement that it is lawful to exclude children because their parents haven't paid fees, or whether you must still offer them their free place for the 12.5 hours (or 15 if you're doing that in your area).

 

Tricky if the child has already left though. I remember Peggy posting sometime ago about pursuing bad debts via the small claims court online. Much easier than having to go to court to lodge papers etc.

 

Maz

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...and check with the Code of Practice for the delivery of the free entitlement that it is lawful to exclude children because their parents haven't paid fees, or whether you must still offer them their free place for the 12.5 hours (or 15 if you're doing that in your area).

 

Tricky if the child has already left though. I remember Peggy posting sometime ago about pursuing bad debts via the small claims court online. Much easier than having to go to court to lodge papers etc.

 

Maz

 

 

If the code of practice were to suggest that I couldnt exclude because of unpaid bills relating to the previous term I think I'd have to find someone to argue with :o

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Hi Rea, How annoying, small claims court would definitely be my approach, why should this person negatively affect the work you do with the rest of your children? I don't think it's as complicated as you might think, approach a local branch of the Citizens Advice Bureau, they might be able to offer you help?

 

Also, consider getting fees paid in advance, I am trying to push committee towards agreeing this.

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A former chair at our preschool took a family to the small claims court because of non-payment of fees about 6 years ago now. The family knew how to work the system and managed to evade it all ,even when the baliffs turned up. We paid the court fees and didn't get anything back - even though that chair was a lawyer herself! So although we have kept in our policy that we would take to court, the reality is that it is a bit of an empty threat. In recent years we've lost about £100 a year from people who have refused to pay AND have then turned nasty when we sent them a formal letter - 'I've heard bad things about the nursery so he's not coming back', 'I was so disgusted by how I was spoken to, I am really upset, and I always pay my debts' (ha ha ha. This was when she had been challenged both for not paying AND for wandering in 10 minutes after we'd closed to collect her child). It's a nightmare, and nasty! And the free entitlement makes it really tricky. We take children from 2 yrs 9 months and the families who take places that early have to pay for at least one term (depending on when the child turns 3); if they don't pay the fees they can be excluded from the fee-paying months, but do they still stay on the list for the NEF-funded terms EVEN IF they haven't paid? And another issue is that children who come from families who abuse the system like this (rather than just struggling - the ones who are evading payment rather than just mis-managing finances) are the children who really need to be a good early years setting ... If the government could fund from 2 years 9 months it would make life a little bit easier.

 

Nightmare. Our policy is clear - pay in the first week or arrange a payment plan, non-payment means exclusion and probable loss of place - but we don't have a full time administrator and committee aren't in all the time, and so it is left to the staff to turn away families who are abusing the system, so it is very hard to enforce, especially when 'flexible hours' means that there are children coming and going all day so it can be difficult to have private time to talk to a parent, particularly if they are trying to avoid you! 'Stealing' is a good way to think of it, especially in the context of cake sale fundraising. Last year the non-payer did not pay £87 which is the equivalent of at least two good cake sales ...

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I too remember Peggy saying she had done this online...

 

If you do pursue through small claims and win , does it not go ton their credit rating and hence they could have problems further down the line when they want credit, or a check is done for some reason, some satisfaction in itself.. even if you dont get the cash..

 

I did the in advance and one week non payment they had a letter saying if they did not pay by XX we would only take the child for the funded sessions, and additional care had to be paid at beginning of any session before child could attend.

 

Did have to enforce this once with a child who was getting the funded sessions in another setting and parents wanted extra care with us.. obviously we were cheaper! but knowing they had run up a bill of several hundred at afterschool club with another child we knew from the start we had to do this.. Child did not attend long though as she tried twice to not pay and took offence at the fact I was asking for payment..

 

we ended up with a payment agreement which every parent who was paying for sessions/hours signed before a child attended, setting out the rules for payment, eg in advance etc.. and we even stated exactly the amount that would be owed each week (subject to any increases or change of sessions) giving who cheques had to be made out to.. etc .. and what would happen with non payment.. and we and parent signed .. copy to parent, copy in our registration folder with rest of child's info... this made it very celar to parents we would not take a child if they did not pay... they had a chance at this stage to work out an agreement for paying , each one on individual cases..

 

I always found the ones which tended not to pay were not the ones on the lowest income and benefits... they always paid on time and came to me if they had a problem .. so we could work through it with them..

 

while I know it is not the child's fault, and we do not want to deprive the children, but in reality it is not much for ask for looking after their child..

 

Inge

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Well even better. Our new administrator has been clearing through old paperwork and has found a letter dated 3 years ago to the same family in relation to their older child. Gob smacked at the front some people have.

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I knew nothing about the previous debt and we have nothing to say if they were ever paid or not unfortunatly.

Playleader is phoning tomorrow to ask the name of the setting he's going to in Sept so she can pass on his learning journey etc. and then I will make a phone call giving them the heads up on the thieving b*g*ers!

 

I dont think we will go the route of smalll claims, purely because I havent got time to take on another peice of paperwork. Mentally, I might burst if I attempt it, but boy, woe betide anyone to try it on again.

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Why is this always the way!! :(

 

Our 'outstanding debt' turned up sporting a brand new iphone the other day!!! They owe less than £100 and the final demand went out the same day as the iphone arrived!! xD

 

Had nothing back yet. Will wait and see. :o

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Two children, one toddler one preschool, toddler costs £280 a week and they pay £50 a week !?!? Place hasn't had a proper manager since December, so it's been ongoing since then.

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We have a board of directors but the last manager was hiding alot of things (hence her leaving) so they've been trying to pick up the pieces since January.

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:o My jaw hurts where it just fell to the floor!!

 

I just have to ask if the family are still using the setting.............?

 

Nona

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We have had similar problems with parents not paying fees. We have been sympathetic in certain cases and often let the fees be carried over to the term the children become funded, setting up a weekly payment scheme to pay arrears. This works well for some families but there are always some that duck under the net leaving us out of pocket. We don't intend the trend to continue.

I have recently been chasing a bill of £330 outstanding from October. After parking her brand new car the parent literally threw an envelope with £5.00 in it at me on her last visit. I don't know how i stayed so calm.

We have decided that its time to send out a message to all our parents that the worm has turned.

Lets face it you can't go to Tesco and tell them you will pay you later.

A new clause in our exclusion policy is being added and all parent will be made aware that if fees are not paid in advance their child will not be admitted to the group.

The fees bill for the September term will be sent out in July and payment will be expected before we close for the summer. This will secure the child's place and hopefully stop time wasters not turning up at the start of the year. The bill for October will be presented the 1st. week back and payment will be expected that week or placements will be withdrawn.

Sounds harsh and possibly a bit cheeky but over the 10 years we have been here we have lost more than £9,000.00 and been verbally abused. All this hassle to provide a service for little pay that parents choose to access.

 

Its such a shame the few spoil it for the many, we love our job and enjoy the children but some parents we could happily not bother with.

 

Gosh i feel better now i have had a rant :)

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Gosh i feel better now i have had a rant :)

 

:o Obviously a subject close to your heart Lorraine, as it's encouraged you to make your first post! Well Done and Well Said!

 

Nona

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A good first post, rant away Lorraine :oxD

 

 

I'm going to ammend our policy on fee's to say we will suspend a childs place if fee's are outstanding unless prior arrangement has been made with the treasurer. That way I can look after the families who do pay but in 2 or 3 payments. One woman has to wait for her hubands wages to go into the bank, he's in Afghanistan and I dont want her to have an additional worry, so a scheme will be put in place.

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