I didn't leave you, you left me!
October 4, 2016 6:33 PM   Subscribe

The daycare we've been using suddenly announced they were closing with 30 days warning. In our community, this is ridiculously little time to find a new place. Miraculously (and with connections), we found a place, but need to start next week to keep a spot. All good, no? But when we tell old daycare, they tell me that we're contractually obligated to pay them for 1 month after we announce we're leaving. YANML, TINLA but does this make any sense?

In the contract, they say that if a parent wants to leave, they have to give a month's warning. I totally get that. But in this case, they are closing, we didn't want to leave. It feels like a totally different scenario.
posted by papergirl to Law & Government (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do you literally have a signed agreement with them? Do you pay via credit card? I totally get that this might be what the signed agreement but also understand (as a parent) what a total cluster fuck it is for them to spring this on you. In your place, I'd probably just leave right this second, don't pay, and then see if they bother to take you to small claims court. If you pay via credit card maybe cancel that card so they don't charge you.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:35 PM on October 4, 2016 [11 favorites]

I would bail. If they go after you for the difference, you can either fight them or make a partial offer. (Odds are they won't; they're shutting down, they probably won't go after any accounts receivable.)

What's good for the goose....
posted by China Grover at 6:39 PM on October 4, 2016 [11 favorites]

It's unbelievably unreasonable of them. And considering that good childcare is vital to the health and wellbeing of your child, their reaction is cold hearted.

They fired you. Leave immediately. Pay them pro-rated for the days you have used instead of the full month. Write "Paid In Full" on the subject line of the check and think no more about it, like, completely ignore them.

If they sell your debt to a collection agency, forward the letter from the daycare saying they are closing. Don't explain further than simply stating you do not owe any debt, that they terminated their contract with you and you ceased using the services.
posted by jbenben at 6:49 PM on October 4, 2016 [33 favorites]

Oh. It's not unheard of for a business that closed or was sold to sell their accounts receivable to a collection agency, but it's usually pretty easy to make the collection agency go away in this case.
posted by jbenben at 6:52 PM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not sure if this is the case for you, but one wrinkle here is that daycares I've used have required a full 30 days deposit, which they use toward the last month of services. Is that the case here? EG, are you worried about getting that returned for the unused portion or are you worried about being compelled to pay? If you are the one paying, I agree to pay only for services used and contest any further action.
posted by handful of rain at 6:56 PM on October 4, 2016

I don't understand - you DO owe them for the rest of the month. They gave you 30 days notice, which they are probably contractually obligated to do, and you owe them for that 30 days regardless of when you leave, so you have to pay for October.

Or are you saying that they told you a week ago and now they're requesting an additional month's tuition to include a week that they are not even going to be open? Because that would be ridiculous and I imagine you could offer to pay out the month and be good since they gave you notice first.
posted by echo0720 at 7:28 PM on October 4, 2016 [7 favorites]

You would have liked more than a month's warning, but I doubt you were promised that.

I don't know, but I'd guess that the daycare's employees probably have been promised a month's warning--it's got to be hard to hire people if you can't make *some* commitment to them. I wonder whether your breaking your commitment to the daycare will mean they in turn have trouble keeping their commitments, and that it's the employees that will suffer.

I don't know your situation, but I'd pay it. Daycare's expensive, but this is a rare event, so assuming you've got the cash, this is going to be a minor blip over the long term.
posted by floppyroofing at 7:50 PM on October 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

I would pay them for the time your child is actually there and see if they bill you for the balance. However, my guess is that they consulted and attorney and thought about leaving everyone in the lurch and decided that 30 days notice of closing was appropriate. They still have to pay staff until the end of the month. I think I would ultimately pay them for the entire month. Do you know why they are shutting down?
posted by AugustWest at 8:12 PM on October 4, 2016

I totally understand why you're mad - I would be too - but at the same time, if they're open for another 30 days, and you agreed to give them 30 days notice, then yeah, you have to pay them. It's not their fault that the other place is making you start early. They have staff to pay for that notice period while they're open.

Don't pay for any days they're not open, obviously.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:18 PM on October 4, 2016 [14 favorites]

we don't have the daycare agreement in front of us but it's very possible that closing the daycare would constitute breach of contract in which case parents would not be required to pay for the 30 day notice period (other than any days they use the service).

if you want to give each of your child's teachers $50 or $100 (i'm assuming there's two per room) as a thank you, that'd probably be appreciated since they just lost their job.
posted by noloveforned at 8:41 PM on October 4, 2016 [5 favorites]

Totally forgot about them paying staff! Make sure you tip the staff when you leave if they are not also the owners. Anyway, this is definitely something I did not think of and I apologize.

If I paid the full 30 Days without dispute it would probably depend on the reason for the closing and how long they knew before giving notice. I realize they are a business, but this is not how I would handle this type of thing in their position, so I'm not sure how much overall empathy I might feel in your shoes.

My take on your contract was that you owed them 30 days notice, but whether they owed you any notice was not stipulated.

Upon preview: I agree w/ noloveforned above regarding the contract. I would probably tip something closer to what I might have paid the owners, but I'm overgenerous in this regard.

I'm sure you'll do the right thing based on the contract and the level of care your family has received from these folks. Good luck at the new place!
posted by jbenben at 8:47 PM on October 4, 2016

I would take my chances that they won't go after you. Especially if you make a note on the check that it's the full amount you owe for services rendered.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:44 AM on October 5, 2016 [4 favorites]

So, do I understand correctly that they’re saying that by taking your child out before the end of their notice period, they’re asserting that this has somehow magically created a *new* notice period that starts the day your child leaves nursery?

If that’s the case then they’re deluded: They have served *you* notice. You owe them everything up to the last day of their notice period & nothing more. There’s nothing stopping you taking your child out earlier than that.

In the UK, if someone tried to enforce a notice period like this I believe it would fall foul of the general principle that a penalty clause (which I think this would be) in a contract has to be related somehow to actual losses incurred as a consequence of the breach of contract. Since a) the contract has been ended anyway by the fact of the nursery giving the parents notice and b) there are no actual costs incurred by the nursery after their closure that you could possibly be responsible for since *they’re closing the place* this assertion by the nursery that you should pay them for an extended notice period would be baseless & unenforceable here I believe. Obviously the law varies, but I find it hard to believe that any court would enforce such a claim!

Pay them up to the end of their notice period & ignore any attempts to extract more money out of you. You might need a stern letter from a lawyer to tell them that they’re being dumb. I’m sure you can find a local lawyer who will happily write something suitably for a small sum & the entertainment value of such a ludicrous claim.
posted by pharm at 1:23 AM on October 5, 2016

I think the daycare is asserting that the OP needs to pay out the remaining days to closure, not 30 days from when the OP took their kid out or gave notice of taking their kid out. I agree that I think we need to see the agreement, but there's a strong argument that their closing constitutes breach of contract.
posted by handful of rain at 5:23 AM on October 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yes, if the daycare's closing on day 30, the parents withdraw on day 10, and the daycare expects payment through day 40--I agree, that's odd.

My understanding is that the daycare is asking for payment through day 30, and the OP wants to pay only through day 10. But at this point I think that money has already been committed to staff, landlords, cleaning services, etc. It strikes me as normal that the daycare considers this a service you pay for monthly regardless of how much you end up using it, rather than something you can decide to prorate on short notice. I understand the OP's distress, but I doubt that the fact that the daycare is closing changes any of that.

I'm no expert on daycares, or contracts, or anything else, this is just my uninformed first impression.
posted by floppyroofing at 7:25 AM on October 5, 2016 [4 favorites]

I would in no way pay for days 10-30 that you're not using. They gave you 30 days notice that they were closing out of the blue - they didn't tell you on the lead-up, when they knew they would have to close soon. They told you with just enough time to cover their own ass. Morally, you owe them only for time used.
posted by corb at 11:10 AM on October 5, 2016 [4 favorites]

Writing "Paid in Full" on a check is not a guarantee that the matter will be considered closed. There are things they can write on the check that may change that status or it may be determined that you tried to change the terms without their consent. Do not rely on that phrase.
posted by soelo at 12:13 PM on October 10, 2016

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