This is just a brief update to my previous post ‘Why Should I Pay Nursery Fees on Bank Holidays?’
I asked the question of Trading Standards, to see first of all whether this was an issue they would pick up. Unfortunately, I think my question was a little too vague for them as I got a response that was directed at my own personal situation and not the subject as a whole.
However, they do answer one question – is the practice of nurseries charging for a day when they are shut – for a day when they are not providing the service – actually legal?
This is the response I received –
We understand from your email that you are trying to establish what your rights may be in respect of nursery fees.
Based on the information you have provided the key legal points in response to your enquiry are as follows:
Your agreement will be subject to terms and conditions that you will have agreed to when you entered into the contract. You should read through the terms of your contract now in order to establish whether or not the trader has acted in accordance with the terms of your agreement.
Generally, when a consumer has signed a contract or agreement it is deemed that they have read, understood and agreed to the terms and conditions of that contract, even if they haven’t. However, a consumer can look to make a claim under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 if they feel any term and condition is unreasonable or unclear.
If you wish to dispute the charges made for days when the nursery is closed you should do so by formalising your complaint by sending the trader a letter in the post by recorded delivery. The letter should outline any relevant events regarding this issue and make it clear what you expect from the trader and why. It should also give the trader a reasonable timeframe in which to respond to your claim(s), we would suggest 14 days. If the trader does not respond to this letter with a satisfactory remedy you should send the trader one more recorded delivery letter. This time giving the trader 7 days in which to respond, making it clear to the trader that this is your final letter before taking further action. You should keep copies of all letters sent.
Template letters can be found at:Http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/consumer_e/consumer_taking_action_e/consumer_making_a_complaint_e/consumer_sample_letters_e/list_of_sample_letters.htm (if the link does not work when you click it, please copy and paste it into your browser address bar). Although there are no letters directly associated with your query, the templates will give you an idea of how your letter should be set out.
When using the template letters it is important that you follow the online instructions carefully. In addition, once the letter has been generated it may also need further editing, in order to make it clear to the trader what the nature of your complaint is.
The reason we ask you to send mail by recorded delivery is that this may help you prove that you have contacted the trader and tried to resolve the matter amicably, you can also use the ‘Recorded Signed For’ label the post office will supply you with to confirm that the trader has received the letter. In our experience, this is the best way to proceed before you escalate your claim, possibly to a civil court – Small Claims track.
So basically, if it’s clear in the agreement or contract you signed up to when joining the nursery, it’s legal.
My next step will be to find a copy of the T&C’s I signed up to and see whether this is clear. However, I am interested to know what the T&C’s for other nurseries, who also follow this practice, have to say.
If your nursery charges for Bank Holidays and you can let me know what your agreement says, please get in touch.