IT should have been a fun occasion – a boy’s birthday party at a tobogganing centre, complete with tea and balloons.
But the event has now turned into the focus of a public row between two families after the mother of the boy holding the party sent a formal invoice to the parents of his friend Alex for a “party no-show fee”.
The document, which included an invoice number, charged Tanya Walsh and Derek Nash £15.95 for the cost of their five-year-old son’s non-attendance at the event, held during the Christmas holidays.
And the Nashes are now being threatened with action at the small claims court if they refuse to pay up, while the mother of the birthday boy has banned her son from ever playing with Alex again.
They say Alex failed to turn up to his friend Charlie’s party due to a scheduling mix-up involving a day out with his grandparents – who were going away on holiday – which they had promised Alex’s sister. They claim they had no contact details for Charlie’s mother, Julie Lawrence, to let her know he would no longer be able to attend the event at Plymouth Ski Slope & Snowboard Centre.
When the boys returned to school, Mrs Lawrence sent the invoice home by placing it in a brown envelope and asking a teacher to put it in Alex’s school bag. Talking about the letter, Mr Nash, of Torpoint, Cornwall, said: “It was an invoice for a child no-show for the party. It was a proper invoice with full official details and even her bank details on it.
“I can understand that she’s upset about losing money. The money isn’t the issue – it’s the way she went about trying to get the money from me.”
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He added: “I asked Alex’s class teacher if [the child’s mother] had given anything to her. She said, ‘Yes, a brown envelope’.
“I then visited Alex’s school headteacher, who couldn’t apologise enough that one of the teachers had passed this on. She said she would remind all staff this was a breach of protocol.”
Ms Walsh added: “Alex and Charlie were good friends at school. Now Charlie has been told by his mum not to play with Alex any more.
“She also instructed Charlie to tell Alex they are not allowed to go to one another’s birthday parties in the future.
“Little Alex was really upset and he was scared to go to school. He was worried that no-one would want to play with him.”
She added: “When Alex couldn’t attend we tried contacting them. But I didn’t have a number or a full name at the time. It was over the holidays so it was not like I could just bump into her at school.”
Ms Walsh also said that when the children went back to school in January, she tried once more to apologise to the boy’s mother but did not see her to explain.
The Nashes said while they sympathised with the youngster’s mother, they had told her the family would not be paying.
In response, Mrs Lawrence said: “All details were on the party invite. They had every detail needed to contact me.”
Yesterday, the ski centre’s manager, Louisa Duggan, said: “It seems to be a dispute between two parents and the parent who wrote the invoice has put us on it, which is crazy because we have nothing to do with it.
“We ask for a small deposit on booking and 48 hours before the party we ask hosts to confirm numbers and pay us the full amount. It’s £15.95 a head for a slide-and-ride party. But there’s no such thing as a no-show fee.”
She added: “If the child doesn’t show, to be honest we’re pretty flexible.
Read the full Facebook conversation between Alex’s mum and Ms Lawrence below
Hi Julie. This is Alex’s mum. I don’t know what has happened between you and my partner, Derek. I was very shocked to see the invoice in Alex’s school bag. I did not realise that you had to pay for each child, as you never mentioned anything about money when we spoke. The only reason Alex did not attend the party was because his nan and grandad were going away for christmas and the only day the kids could go see them was on the same day as the party. I did not know this. On the day Alex decided that he wanted to spend time with his nan and grandad. I apologise for not letting you know, but I did not have a phone number or an e-mail for you to let you know the situation(I also didn’t know your first name, or I would have looked you up). If I had known that I would have to pay if Alex did not go, then I would have paid you the money, no problem. I do not like fighting with people, and would prefer to settle this amicably.
Hi Tanya, I didn’t mention the money when we spoke because it was a child’s party, it doesn’t matter if you have to pay per person or for a group if people agree to going, I confirmed that with all parents on the Thursday before the party that they were going as I had to pay that day, and Derek told me Alex was looking forward to it and would see us there, to me that is confirmation. My phone number was on the invitation that was sent out to Alex. I don’t like fighting with people either, and was not best impressed when Derek turned up on my doorstep, and said you won’t get any money out of me, rather rudely, I do admit it rattled me. This is not the first time Alex has not turned up to a party that he has been invited to, either. the amicable way round this I believe would be to pay me the money and let a lesson be learnt, I hope this is agreeable ? Julie
Hi Julie, whose party is Alex supposed to have gone to? I did speak to another mum about a party but she never got back to me with details, other than that I don’t recall any other confirmed invites. The only reason Derek was angry was because of the fact that the envelope was put into Alex’s school bag, when it has nothing to do with the school. He spoke to the headteacher about and she said that it’s against school policy to do that kind of thing. Birthday invites are fine, but not personal items. Like I said before, no money was mentioned when we spoke, and I feel it would be inappropriate to pay you the money, when I don’t know what it’s actually paying for. Alex was very excited to go to the party. I didn’t know until the day about his nan and grandad, and he decided he would rather spend the day with them. Like I said before I didn’t have your number to let you know. And exactly what lesson would I be learning. I am not a child, so please do not speak to me like I am one. So, to answer your question, unfortunately no. This is not agreeable.
You are paying for 1 x child’s party at the ski slope including snow tubing and tobogganing and lunch, to with you said Alex was attending on the Thursday
Just so you know, small claims court cost £60 just to start a claim. Also I’m not paying for something we didn’t use.
It doesn’t cost that much
It does. Also I don’t think the school are very happy with you involving them in this either. I don’t know why you are out for our blood and slandering us. I’ve told you the reasons why alex didn’t go. I also told you why I couldn’t call. You also don’t seem to understand that I never ran away from you. I didnt hear you calling after me. I have to get to my daughter at carbeile. So if they let alex out last then I have to rush a bit because evie, my 2 year old, walks slow. So maybe that’s why you thought I was rushing off. I had no reason to run to run away from you. So please do not state things as truth when you do not have all the facts. Maybe if you actually spoke to me rather than making your own mind up about what happened then none of this would be happening right now. If you had come up to us the first day back and explained about the money, then I could have explained about alex, then maybe we could have sorted something out. Instead you send an invoice.
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