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Non payment of fees


Devondaisy
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Does anyone have a clause in their policies to cover non payment of fees?

 

We usually do not have a problem with this but have had on-going problems with one particular family for the last year. I should point out that this is not a family in genuine financial need but a family which chooses not to pay and to prioritise different things instead! We have spent a lot of time working with this family and have tried all sorts of different ideas to make things easier for them. They have made some payments, but we have had to resort to stopping the child from attending in order to prevent the bill from escalating. Mum has been extremely difficult and rude.

 

They currently owe around £160. The child will be funded from September and Mum has just informed me that he will only be doing 15 hours in September (despite already booking him in for more sessions.) It seems there is no intention to pay, and we need to accept him because his hours are funded now. I'm really frustrated by this as we are a charity and have to work hard to fundraise just to break even.

 

I'm thinking we need something written in to our policies to stop this type of thing happening in the future, and wondered what other settings do. Is it feasible to add interest to monies owed? Obviously we would use our discretion but I feel we need some kind of deterrent to stop families simply choosing not to pay because they know they can get away with it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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Hello Devondaisy,

 

Just to let you know this topic was discussed last week, on 10th Aug under the thread Time to update policies... However I do not know how to attach that link to your thread.

It must be very frustrating especially when you have given the parents options etc. Yes we too are a charity so need the fees to be able to pay wages and definately have to do loads of fund raising to be able to add extras to our setting.

Take care

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Thanks Silvermist. I did a search prior to posting and have read the thread, but it was referring to sharing information about non-paying families with other settings. What I am wondering is if others have added clauses to policies to cover, and hopefully avoid, this sort of problem happening in the future.

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U don't have to accept because he is funded now. Confirmation of funding is not done until September

 

U should think about small claims court, we are not usually in situation where children can come without paying. If you are not going to do anything about monies owed then what's the point in adding interest.

 

Loss of extra hours I think will just have to be accepted.

 

 

My thoughts anyway, never easy

Edited by Suer
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It is unfortunate you need the funded hours the child will bring next term as you've lost any bargaining power really, we do try and come to some plan, usually a weekly payment, but can't and won't pay are 2 different things, we do not give any extra hours if money owing (even if they become funded) or give hours to a younger sibling, if payment owed is for hours above funded the extra hours are cut if payment not made by the date we set, our parents get a letter saying when we expect full payment by if their child's place is to remain, ...never got to that point yet thankfully

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Sorry to hear that Devondaisy. I think you have left it a little bit late I'm sorry to say and you are going to be hard pushed to get it back, but I certainly agree with Suer about going to small claims court. Even a letter saying you are taking it to the court might be persuasive? We have had situations in the past where people have left owing money, or gone well into the term and not paid and consequently because of this we have had to become tougher.

We don't really have any issues with the funded children but for the non funded children we give parents an invoice 2 weeks before the end of half term/end of term (we bill half termly) and payment is expected the first week we are back with a due date (Friday) in red on the invoice. If payment is not received, their child's place is suspended until payment is received - unless of course there is a genuine reason and we all know the ones that are genuine. Late payment past the first week incurs a 25% late payment fee. It used to be a minimal late payment charge and since we increased it to 25% we haven't had one late payment!! Funny that.

On their child's registration form, I clearly state the above and have parents sign they will adhere to it or we will make a claim in the small claims court.

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and it is perfectly legal ( I have checked) to put up a notice to say 'the following payments are overdue, please pay immediately' and name the parents and amount outstanding. Not nice and you might ultimately lose the child/ren................but it works

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i would look into small claims courts as well... by doing this even if you do not end up with payment is shows on parents credit record... and just be sending a letter saying that you will be doing this could result in them paying... worked for us the one time we had to do it which was a long time ago now...

 

we did as all do ask for payment in advance but we had a clause where if no payment was made for 2 weeks then place was suspended until they were paid up to date , plus child would not be allowed to return unless all payments were made in advance, and also stated that if they had not paid for a session the child would not be allowed to attend until we had received the money.. we had to get really strict with a set of parents who thought it was ok to pay at end of the month or term.. leaving us in financial difficulty unable to pay bills..

In the end we produced a fee payment agreement signed by us and parent with a copy to both for file , this said quite clearly our terms, what sessions were booked, cost per session, payment to be made on xxx day each week and would ne xxx amount , or xx day each month, and some asked for termly as well.. and we included all we needed about non payment terms and small claims court if needed.. must admit to being very strict with payments.

I shamed one into paying by saying I was getting no wages because we had no money to pay me... reason being they had not paid fees.. and asked it they would be happy to work and get no wage at end of the month, and to think about the impact that was having on me and my family, etc etc.. laid it on thick.. money came next day.. all of it..

we did arrange payment schemes for some where they paid a small amount weekly before they became funded and this continued once funding kicked in to the amount due for sessions already taken unfunded,,

like others have said was on a case by case decision.. and we did offer free places for those we knew needed it etc... we often found that the parents who were struggling were the ones who never defaulted and always first to pay... those who we knew were able to pay were the ones who were more likely to prioritise other things first..

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Be very careful about going down the route of a small claims court for a small sum (I know £160 is a lot of money and is rightfully yours, but in the world of debt it is a very small amount). I tried to retrieve money owed a few years ago using this method and ended up even more out of pocket. I was charged each time the bailiff visited the house and in the end, nothing was taken and no money was ever paid back.

Definitely get your parents to sign terms and conditions or a contract as this will give you more clout if you do decide to take them to court.

I hope they do the right thing and pay you what they owe.

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Thanks everyone for the replies, very helpful.

The idea of interest being added to invoices is now going to be discussed at the next committee meeting. To be honest we have always been really relaxed about payment, because everyone has always paid eventually. We are in a small village so I think people are usually too embarrassed not to pay! More and more are leaving it to the last minute though so I think we need to get tougher.

With the family in question I am hoping I can persuade the committee to refuse to have the child back until payment is made, regardless of whether that means we end up not having him for the term or not. I think that is the only way parents are actually going to pay.

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Sorry I had obliviously read it somewhere else?? I thought there was something about small claims court route and policy making.

Any way good luck, I know its really hard to refuse a child but you are right it might be the only way for the parents to pay and also protects you in the future.

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I have a similar problem, family owe £150 for Spring Term and now over £250 for summer term, eldest child has left but younger sibling is still with us. I have sent repeated emails and letters but don't get a reply, grandma drops and collects and I don't feel right talking to her about it - to add to the dilemma the mother is on our committee so it is difficult to discuss the problem committee meetings. I really want to now threaten that their child's place is suspended.

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Write a letter, post to Mr and Mrs and hope Dad opens it! I have had success with this with two families. Dad dimply wasn't aware that mum hadn't paid! I put in the letter that unless the fee was paid in full by Friday of that week, without fail, then the child's place would be withdrawn with effect from Monday of the following week. This would be followed by a further letter from our solicitor, which would incur charges, followed by a possibility of pursuing the case through the court, all expenses for which would be met by them, including payment for any staff cover costs incurred whilst dealing with the matter.

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Hopeytg what are your committee officers doing about this ? I agree about not discussing at a full committee meeting, but surely the treasurer must be aware just from checking fees records.

 

Was going to say Cait about also sending copy to the father, that usually sorts it, even threatening to usually does the trick...in fact I might add into policy that if it becomes necessary to send a letter requesting payment of fees it will be sent to both parents separately.

Edited by Mouseketeer
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  • 4 weeks later...

We have similar problems and our outstanding fees are more than £1000 per family with outstanding fees. Tried the tax credit route however they still do say they cannot pay until close to the end of this month.. By then the new bill will be issued and then take the amount close to £2000 we simply cannot allow people to get away with that...

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I'm wondering whether to add this to our fee's policy :

"You wouldn't go to Sainsburys/Tesco/Aldi/Morrisons/Asda and say 'thanks very much I'll bring the money in next week', they would say you were stealing. Please don't say it to us either.

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I insist on payment up front e.g.,first session of the week/fortnight/month/half term/term that child attends - one week's grace and then conversations about losing place.

It's a cruel hard world out there but funnily enough my staff want paying so that they can pay their bills (unfortunately none of them or me are in the position that we do this just for love) as Rea says they won't be given credit when they go shopping or need to pay the rent

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I insist on payment up front e.g.,first session of the week/fortnight/month/half term/term that child attends - one week's grace and then conversations about losing place.

 

Me too - all made perfectly clear in our 'Prospectus' - have still had one parent say - can I pay at the end of the month when my husband gets paid?

Answer "no I'm afraid this needs to be paid this week, however I will accept half now and the other half at the end of the month on this occasion"

I'm not overly worried - this child will be in receipt of NEF from January - so potentially just autumn terms 1 and 2 to keep on top of.......

My pre-school is a very small affair and I absolutely cannot cope with non-payment of fees

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My pre-school is a very small affair and I absolutely cannot cope with non-payment of fees

As you know Sunnyday we live in a parallel universe - my pre-school is a small affair too and with the majority of children being funded and NOT taking any extra hours so it is totally free there's just no wriggle room to carry debtors.

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