Your questions answered

August 27, 2020

Q: I’ve booked and paid for gymnastics after school this term for my daughter, but I’m worried it might be cancelled again if there’s a second wave of coronavirus. If that happens, am I entitled to my money back?

A: When you pay for a service, such as an after-school activity, you are entering a contract with the supplier. Under contract law, deposits are generally non-refundable. However, in the first instance, you should check the terms and conditions of the contract with the activity provider to see what it says in relation to deposits, and in what circumstances (if any) you may be entitled to a refund.

You can always request a refund, however, if the gymnastics classes are cancelled or rescheduled. What you are entitled to is based on what is contained in the terms and conditions of your contract, or on the website you made your booking on. There may be specific terms and conditions around rescheduling or cancellations (or both), such as references to government guidelines regarding COVID-19. The terms and conditions may also set out alternative arrangements, such as facilitating the activities online, depending on the official guidance at the time.

However, it’s important to note that standard form contracts must be fair and balanced, and protect the interests of both parties. Therefore, if the contract said you have the right to a refund when you booked the classes, the business is not allowed to change the terms and conditions at a later time, without your agreement.

It’s also important to note that the business is obliged to provide you with the relevant terms and conditions either before you pay, or at the point of payment. If you booked and paid over the phone or online, the business must provide you with a copy of the terms and conditions.

If the deposit is non-refundable, you should discuss other options with the provider to see if they might consider an alternative arrangement, for example: different dates, or a credit note to be used at a future date. If rearrangements are made and deposits or payments are discussed over the phone, be sure to follow up with an email asking the business to confirm the new arrangement in writing.

If you feel that they are acting outside of the terms and conditions of the contract, you should make a complaint to them. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, you may have to take legal action. If your claim is less than €2,000, you can use the Small Claims procedure to try and resolve it.

 

CCPC’s top tips for parents when booking after-school activities:

  • Check the T&Cs: Be sure to check the terms and conditions to ensure you are fully informed before paying a deposit.
  • Contact the supplier: If any of the terms and conditions are unclear, or if you want to clarify any of the specific T&Cs of your contract or on their website, get in touch with the provider to make sure that you understand fully their refund policy before paying your deposit.
  • Check the Plan B: If there are no details regarding alternative arrangements or refunds in the event of official advice preventing the after-school activity from going ahead, contact the supplier and ask them for details before you pay. Be sure to ask about all relevant scenarios such as:
    • Am I entitled to a refund if my child falls ill and cannot attend?
    • Am I entitled to a refund if the activity is cancelled due to one of the other children contracting COVID-19?
    • Is it possible to pay in instalments over a number of weeks or months rather than paying up front?
    • Am I entitled to a refund if I do not have the online facilities for my child to be able to take part in the online alternative?
  • Confirm in writing: If any important information is provided over the phone, be sure to follow up with an email, confirming the details. This is important, as this will provide you with proof of your conversation and may help in the event of any future refund requests.
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