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Late Payments


anju
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Hi,

 

I had a run-in with a parent today over late payment of fees. The child has been with us for over a year and there has been an issue over the fees been overdue every few weeks during that time. Anyway, I had the audacity to chase up the fees which were due on Monday (£20.00 which doesn't sound much but it quickly becomes more if you don't chase it, in my experience with this particular parent). She told me I am unprofessional, need to think about my behaviour and that I am abusive and offensive. I was not abusive or offensive but I did tell her she needed to pay the fees, that it does matter even if it's £20.00 and that it was time consuming and annoying to have to keep chasing the fees. I had suggested (as I have on many occasions) that she drops down to free hours only (she was at college but finished recently so she doesn't need the extra time) but she was not happy. She complained about not being able to pay cash having previously complained that she couldn't pay by card. I now have a chip and pin machine and avoid cash if possible as my bank charges me to pay cash in, it's difficult to get to the bank to pay it in and last week someone gave me a forged banknote. So I am enforcing the rule which I made six months ago about card-only payments.

 

She also told me I should review my policies. I have taken her advice and redrafted the 'Fees Policy' so it now includes late payment charges of £1.00 per day and cash payment fees of 20% on top of the amount owed. Hopefully she'll be happy with that :)

 

She told me she would be glad when the child leaves to go to school. I nearly drew blood, I was biting my lip so hard.

 

Thanks for reading.

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Annoying as this is you have to remember you can't please everyone all of the time.

Don't take it personally. . Easily said though I know.

 

I have 2 parents who owe fees and I have let it go to the point that they both now owe about £80 or so.

 

I have written to them.

Been polite, even suggested they come int to talk to me if they are struggling to get this paid but neither parent has even had the curtesy to speak to me about the overdue fees.

One parents child has left (though her son is still at our school) because they have moved house.

The other has lost her job and stopped the extra nursery hours she was paying for.

 

I am tempted to now to write to both who havent even tried to talk with me about it and say we are passing the debt to a debt collector. Of course I have never done this and don't really know how, but wonder if I need to make a threat to get the money!

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Its so annoying isn't it , as though we don't have enough to do. i have a child who has more than the funded hours. Its always been a pain to get money owing.During the Easter holidays I told the parent that I could no longer offer extra sessions because she owed money from the previous term. Mum said that she had split with her partner so money was an issue. The mum said it wasn't fair on her child if i withdrew extra sessions!!! In the end childs grandparents paid for previous term and now parent has to pay weekly but as soon as she breaks her promise I will withdraw extra space.

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Total nightmare, yes! I'm glad I'm not the only one although I'm sorry you are both having trouble too :(

 

a common problem!!!! i know someone who racked up over £3000 in debt!!! Not quite sure how anyone can afford to let it get to this stage?

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I have been stricter recently, just sent one parent a letter telling her if she doesnt pay what she owes staff wont be able to accept her child at the next session. I know a lot of people are affected by the recession and tax credits are changing but staff do speak to people who owe money on a regular basis and always let them know we can come to an arrangement if they are financially challenged so ignoring the issue just makes me cross.

She paid a bit so I had to tell staff to let her in but I am so fed up of people thinking they can use our service and not pay that I'm going to enforce point 6 on our fee's policy.

6. We advise parents that if we do not receive fees for more than 2 weeks, we reserve the right to give their child’s place to another child on the waiting list or to another child in the pre-school wishing to increase their number of sessions.

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Guest MaryEMac

Parents are quick to add extra hours but very slow in remembering to pay for them. We give a verbal reminder first and then follow up a couple of days later with a copy of the fee sheet and a letter which also gives them the amount due each week. We did this just before half term and we are repeating it now to hopefully get money before end of term. Our next step will probably be to take away hours which would not go down well. It is becoming an increasing problem as the year goes on.

 

Mary

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i think it is a problem we all have - we have a book keeper who has made a difference but we still have non payers and ones who make excuse after excuse about why they cant/havent paid.

i think this time of year is worse as parents who owe money with children leaving in july just keep dragging it out hoping the end of term will come before they make a payment.

we also have the problem of children who have sessions who dont attend regularly - does anyone else have this problem?

i think that because they dont pay they dont worry about not turning up for a session - i am sure that if they paid for the session they would turn up for every one.

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The biggest problem I think is too many people know how to duck and dive. Most know full well that even if we go to court and get a judgement in our favour, we still have to get the money. People know they can avoid debt collectors by saying all the possessions in the house belong to granny or one of the children so the goods cant be taken.

I'm just going to try to stick to our fee's policy, afterall, I wouldnt allow any other policy to be broken so why this one?

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I have only this last year really started to get tough!!! After years of letting people get away with no payment ( mainly because I felt the child would suffer if there was no pre school for them) i now make it clear that should they not pay what they owe there will be no place for them next term...so there!!! Its worked so far, with parents even stuffing envelopes through my letter box in the holidays!!

 

Of course no threat for those who are leaving for school.......It is verrrrry annoying!

 

And without pointing fingers our Traveller Community really take the p@&& !! Even with funding they take on 5 sess...turn up irreguarly for a couple of weeks then clear off leaving me with having to pay back budgeted funds!! Arghhhh

 

I know thats not politically correct of me ..but so very true.........

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When parents sign up for extra sessions they have to sign to say even if the child does not attend they have to pay for the sessions they mss to help maintain our financial viability. Alternatively we do not have to keep a place for their child.

 

It has worked well.

It covers us for term time holidays that are taken and sickness too!

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This is always an area which causes the most issues in Nursery I find - but as others have stated it is a case of having a firm overdue fees/debt policy and adhering to it , and withdrawing places at the times stated if that is in the policy. On more than one occasion I have told a family the place will no longer be available if fees not paid and they have always 'found' the money somewhere, and rarely fall behind again. The card machine has been a godsend as parents can put it on their credit or debit card and it stops the ' I forgot to go to the bank' excuse. It is hard, and not what we trained for but ultimately every non- paying parent threatens your, and all your staffs jobs!

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Just an update, the parent came in this morning, paid the overdue fees and told me the child will go down to free hours only from next week which I said was fine (I was polite throughout the conversation). She then repeated her feelings that I have been unprofessional and patronising and said she wants to complain to someone. I told her it would be Ofsted and told her where the contact details are on the parents' noticeboard. She asked if there is anyone above me here and I said no as I am the owner which she said she thought was the case. She then asked my Deputy (out of earshot of me) the same questions (she gave the same answers) and tried to engage another parent in the conversation. The other parent was embarrased, said she always paid the fees in advance and gets a discount and moved right away from her.

 

She hasn't complained to me in writing but maybe she will. I will fill in a 'provider complaints record' form which I got from Ofsted ages ago (2009) - hope it's the right one! - and then wait and see I guess. I have typed up everything from yesterday and this morning on an 'incident form'. Not sure what else to do.

 

Needless to say, despite the fact I haven't done anything wrong I am anxious about Ofsted. Do you think they will be interested? From a parental partnership point of view maybe? Our last inspection in summer 2010 was 'outstanding' but maybe that's irrelevant??

 

:(

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I've always found Ofsted very supportive when I've had issues and concerns about situations that may escalate to a complaint. Why not give them a call and get their views?

 

I'm fairly sure that they'll say it's nothing to worry about as she's complaining about you chasing her for unpaid fees not the care you're providing........ I'm sure you were assertive and professional rather than aggressive and patronising?! It's very professional to address her complaint head on and to check with your Regulatory Body!

 

Me, being me, would also write to her in response to her complaint pointing out that, in line with your policies and procedures, it is an unpleasant part of your role that you have to chase for late or non-payment of fees to protect the jobs of your staff and to enable your setting to stay open for the benefit of all children and parents :ph34r:

 

Nona

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Thanks Nona, and others. I've phoned Ofsted and they sounded completed uninterested in such a complaint saying 'We don't get involved in contractual issues'. I explained that the parent feels I have been rude etc and the adviser said the same thing and that if she contacts them, that's what she'll be told.

 

Hopefully that's the end of it! (I've done the relevant forms and will draft a letter to her as Nona suggests).

 

Thanks for the support :)

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I too hae contacted ofsted re a complaint made by a parent on my waiting list, they were and have always been very helpful.

Although i do always feel like im talking to God when i talk to them (sorry God)

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Hi I like all of you i am fed up of the late payers, Yes there is a child in this situation but there are also a further 70children that parents who do pay on time, So I am in the process of rewriting my contract, parents will have to pay a month in advance and non payment meens no place that way i will not lose any fees, all late payment will be charge a late payment fee and non payment will be sent to the debt collectors. My team work hard they deserve to be paid.

When i was investigating what changes and charges I could make i found some legislation and am currently get a friend with a finacal background to check the leglislation for me to make sure it covers me. Please find the web link (hope i get this right not verry computer savvy)

 

http://www.bis.gov.uk/files/file37581.pdf

 

I know this is strong but some time we have to be for the benifit of all the children

 

hope it helps,

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Non Payment of Fees Policy

 

Aim

We aim to ensure financial stability of the Preschool by having a fair and consistent process for pursuing non-payment of fees.

 

Method

In order to achieve this aim the Preschool will include full written information for parents/carers of the fee and payment structure of the Preschool, in the Prospectus.

 

If a family has used the services provided by the Preschool without payment or their payment is dishonoured, the Preschool will follow the following staged procedure:
  1. Issue an ‘Overdue Account’ invoice asking for payment in full within seven days. If payment is received within seven days no further action will be taken.

  1. If payment is not received a ‘Second Warning’ Invoice will be issued asking for immediate payment, in full in seven days plus a £10.00 administration fee. If payment is received within seven days no further action will be taken.

  1. If after seven days full payment or a payment plan, agreed by the Preschool’s management, has not been received a ‘Final Warning’ letter will be issued. At this stage your child(ren) will be unable to attend Preschool until full payment has been received. If payment is received within seven days no further action will be taken.

  1. If payment is not received within seven days the Preschool will immediately begin proceedings in the County Court for which we charge an administration fee of £100 and all court costs. If the Preschool is required to attend at County Court, costs will be applied at a rate of £20 per hour.

edit to add, not sure why that copy and paste has made them all 'point 1' but you get the idea

Edited by Cait
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Hi anju, I,d be a bit worried that parents would just be late if it suited them, £4 isn't bad for an extra hour and that could really affect your ratios, from past experience we had £5 for first 15 mins late, and found parents thought well if I 5 mins late I may as well be 15 mins late, we,re working on our late collection fee at moment, was working well till chair had a fine, now it's all had to change and no one can agree on what it should be, we now have satellite clocks to stop arguing about time so if they could just like to agree on a workable policy now :/

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Finleysmaid - nothing, I just hope they do!! I haven't resorted to small claims court yet and have sometimes managed to fill the place quickly but it can be a total pain.

 

Mouse, we've tried all sorts and this is what we have at the moment - mine mostly balk at even paying £1 believe it or not so it does put most off. Also, I find if I try to charge the higher amounts, I struggle to get the money off them. With deposits in the future, this will help but only for fee-paying parents as obviously I can't charge a deposit for the free places. That's blooming awkward, re your chair! In terms of ratios we always have a dip at the end of the morning session so there's capacity for a couple more.

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