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Childcare provider won't issue full refund despite changing terms of service

  • 12-09-2022 10:21pm
    Registered Users Posts: 373 ✭✭

    Quite annoyed about this one.

    We booked our child into an after-school childcare setting earlier this summer. My wife and I both work and the big appeal for this provider was that they had a bus service that would come to our child's school, collect them, and bring them to the setting.

    Three weeks before school starts, after we had paid a deposit, and they dropped the bombshell that they were cancelling the bus service and that it was now up to parents to drop the kids. This left us in a predicament as we both work, and we've had a stressful few weeks trying to sort an alternative arrangement.

    The manager apologised to me at the time and said we'd get a full refund on the deposit if we decided to leave. I told her at the time that we would look elsewhere in the meantime and use them as an absolute last resort as it would mean me spending my lunch hour battling traffic to collect my kid, getting to the childcare setting, then back to work which isn't sustainable. In the meantime they sought the first two weeks payment which we paid as, like I said, we were trying hard to find an alternative and didn't want to be left with nothing.

    Thankfully we got sorted with an alternative that works today, and I informed the childcare provider. My child hasn't started there and wasn't due to for another week. However they emailed to say they would refund us the deposit but not the two weeks payment as this would - quote - "put them at a loss".

    I couldn't believe this as this situation is through no fault of our own. They talk about how they can't be expected to take a loss, yet think nothing of taking our money for nothing, after they caused us stress by changing their service.

    We now have to pay for the alternative childcare AND two weeks of a service that won't be provided. I replied to say that we expect a full refund of all money paid as we are in no way responsible for this situation and that they are the ones who changed the terms. They have not replied.

    Has anyone any advice on what I can do here? Thanks.


  • Registered Users Posts: 373 ✭✭DoubleJoe7

    When they sought the 2 week payment we told them that we would pay it but that we were actively seeking an alternative given they fundamentally changed the terms of our original agreement. They did not indicate at any point in that discussion that that payment was non-refundable, all they said was they understood our position and that of course we should look elsewhere if we could find something that suits.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,636 ✭✭✭Patrick2010

    But they won't be getting any childcare from this provider. Given the provider changed the terms of their service I think they should refund, I can't see where their "loss" is coming from.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,055 ✭✭✭pauliebdub

    This the reason, it's to avoid the childcare provider left hanging while you (or other parents) look for an alternative that suits your routine - which is not really their problem. Presumably you would have gone with this provider had you failed to secure an alternative? There's probably not a lot you can do about it.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,255 ✭✭✭cml387

    Yes, I see they didn't actually leave the children there. It does seem a bit of a stretch to look for two weeks childcare that wasn't used

  • Registered Users Posts: 373 ✭✭DoubleJoe7

    But we shouldn't be left out of pocket because they changed the terms of the service after we had signed up to it. To reiterate, when they told us the bus service was dropped they apologised and offered a refund if we decided to go elsewhere. We told them we would be looking elsewhere - they even gave us suggestions as to places try. When they looked for the two weeks payment we told them we were still looking elsewhere, they acknowledged this and never told us this money was non refundable. As far as we were concerned, based on a conversation with the manager, they were acknowledging they had put us in a difficult position and had said we would be refunded. At no point were we told that any money paid was non-refundable.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,276 ✭✭✭Uncle Pierre

    I have sympathy with your situation here, but have to point out that just as they didn't say that the two weeks' payment wouldn't be refundable, they must not have said either that it would be refundable.

    Either way, to try get a refund, you're probably going to have to consider either a solicitor's letter or a case in the Small Claims Court. All you'll probably get here is a collection of opinions on whether or not they should refund, and even if the opinions were 99% in your favour, that won't make any difference as regards whether they actually pack you back or not.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,508 ✭✭✭irelandrover

    But you paid the two weeks after you knew the bus had been cancelled. So they didn't change the terms after you paid.

    I'd assume any money I paid for daycare was non refundable to be honest. You got your deposit back as they agreed.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,202 ✭✭✭cruizer101

    I'd be inclined to go small claims court. I think you should get refunded but can see others point. Maybe try see if they would be happy to meet you halfway if you would be open to that. Otherwise you can try let the court decide, for the sake of 25 quid would be worth trying if they outright refuse.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 18,620 ✭✭✭✭Del2005

    If they paid by credit or debit card I'd be going for a charge back. Service was not provided and the childcare changed the contract.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,508 ✭✭✭irelandrover

    Did the provider say the child couldn't come or did the OP just not send them. If they were told they couldn't send the child then of course they should get a refund. However it seems the provider made a place available and the OP sent the child to the new daycare.

    Op, how much notice did you give that you wouldn't be sending your child?

  • Registered Users Posts: 373 ✭✭DoubleJoe7

    1 week. But this was only a couple of weeks after we were told of the change in service, and we spent that entire time looking for an alternative.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,982 ✭✭✭witchgirl26

    OP I can empathise with you but you did get your deposit back which was what the provider offered when they changed the terms of service. You paid the 2 weeks knowing the difference & essentially to hold a place for your child unless you got something else. The provider would have had to ensure staffing for this etc which is why I suspect they asked for it. You ultimately didn't take the place, but if you hadn't secured other arrangements, you would have. If you'd paid the 2 weeks without knowing the terms of service, I could understand it but that was paid after the change so you don't have recourse using that argument.

  • Registered Users Posts: 373 ✭✭DoubleJoe7

    Happy to wrap this up, we stuck to our guns got our full refund. I pointed out how they promised us a full refund if we went elsewhere when they told us of the change in service.

    I highlighted that at no point did they state the 2 week fee was non-refundable, and that we again told them that we were looking elsewhere when we paid that fee - there was an opportunity for them to state that fee was non-refundable, they didn't, and we were operating under the expectation that they created that we would be fully refunded if we went elsewhere.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,276 ✭✭✭Uncle Pierre

    Glad that you got it sorted out without having to resort to a solicitor or Small Claims Court.

    For what it's worth, am inclined to agree with others who say they were no under obligation to refund the two weeks' payment as well as the initial deposit, but it's good to see they refunded you anyway.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,297 ✭✭✭walterking

    From a legal point of view you had no right to a refund.

    The 2 week payment was a separate payment to the deposit which they agreed they would refund.

    They refunded you because it was not worth the energy to argue with you and you need to see it as a goodwill refund and not an entitled refund.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,630 ✭✭✭whippet

    The money you are looking for back was paid when you knew the updated terms of service.

    Unfortunately you don't have a leg to stand on.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 13,873 ✭✭✭✭callaway92

    Yeh fwiw I wouldn't have thought they'd have needed to give the money back either (for the 2 weeks)

    Creche's etc are crazy at the moment and they probably had to deny someone else (thus missing out on that money)