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Help - Small Claims Court from a customer who wants non refundable deposit back...


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Hi all,

I'm really hoping someone can help me here. I'm a childminder and took a deposit from a customer in May to hold a space for them to start in September, I'll set the scene for how this happened below but I want to know where I stand legally as I believe I'm not doing anything wrong and just need some advice:


May - Customer visited me and decided they'd like me to look after their child in September when the mum returned to work. They paid a £320 non refundable deposit (this was clear on the receipt) to hold the place for them


June - I decided to move house to a more suitable property for childminding, 1.3 miles away from the previous address. Before I signed anything to move I notified the customer via email that I was considering moving to see if this would be a problem for them. They confirmed (again by email) that the new address was fine with them.


August - 7 weeks after telling me that it was fine, they decided it no longer was ok because they only had one car and it would be logistically hard for them to drop off and collect their child (I had seen them selling the car and a lot of other stuff on social media sites in the previous weeks) and they'd like the deposit back. I replied explaining that I gave them the opportunity to say the new address wouldn't be suitable as I would have been willing to refund the deposit at that time as it was me that changing the situation. As it was a change in their circumstances and not mine - that the non-refundable deposit would be withheld. Bearing in mind I'd lost out on other opportunities to fill the childcare place in the gap between them reserving the place I thought this was fair.


September - The customer has now filed a small claims court claim stating that I moved without consulting them and they asked for a refund.



Can anyone help me with this please I have disputed the claim and sent all the email history in to back up my side of the claim but I need to know if I'm right or if I should just refund the money?


Thank you in advance :)

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It they are claiming you moved without consulting them or giving them the opportunity to change their mind at that point, then they are obviously not telling the truth so this would form part of your defence.


IMHO, I think you behaved reasonably.. but will try and find someone who can help further.

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Please would you post up the claim form and also your defence so that we can get a clearer view of what is being said.

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But remove all personal details, including ref numbers.


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Two things bring you out on top, the notation on the receipt that the deposit was not refundable but more so "Bearing in mind I'd lost out on other opportunities to fill the childcare place in the gap between them reserving the place "

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It sounds like you are probably in the right - provided that you have tried to fill the place. I think you should refund the deposit if you are able to find someone else to take the place.




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