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Daycare closing due to coronavirus, next month is our last, do we have to pay it?

Discussion in 'Consumer Law, Contracts, Warranties' started by Brent212, Mar 18, 2020.

  1. Brent212

    Brent212 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    California
    Our daughter has been going to an in-home daycare, in San Diego, California. We pay for each month at the beginning of the month, and it's on a month-to-month basis.

    We were originally going to take her out at the end of May. However, on 3/16, we decided, because my wife will be home from now until the end of summer, that we should get her out as early as possible.

    I couldn't find any sort of contract, so I messaged the daycare provider lady, on 3/17:
    Imgur
    (I believe she meant "mom told me end of April")

    So there's a 30 day notice requirement. I'm not sure if that means we get to just pay April through the day that's 30 days from 3/17, or if we have to pay the entirety of April.

    She says she needs to talk to her "supervisor" (wtf?), and will get back to me. Then she says she's "closing as of today". I'm assuming that's because of the whole coronavirus, shelter-in-place, everything's closing, state of the world at the moment.

    She seems to always be worried about money. She once claimed my check bounced and she wasn't going to be able to pay her mortgage, even though the check had clearly been cashed with no issues. At the end of last week when we picked up our daughter and said she'd be out the next couple weeks because my wife got sent home from work, she almost yelled something along the lines of "well I won't be prorating the rest of the month! I have to make a living!", even though we had no intention of asking for that, or said anything to imply we were going to ask. So I'm guessing she's closing because it's potentially more financially beneficial than staying open and having no kids to take care of? I'm pretty certain that if she could make more money by staying open, she would.

    Today she sent me the contract (which my wife signed and didn't get a copy of):
    Imgur

    "One month's notice of termination is required. Without notice, you will be charged one month's tuition."

    So I guess I have two questions:

    1) If none of this coronavirus stuff was happening, and she wasn't closing, would we be required to pay the full amount for April, or only a prorated amount, based on one month=31 days from the 3/17 notice of termination, for April 1-16 (so a little more than half a month's tuition)?

    2) Given that she said she's actually closed now (with no end date, but I'm guessing it'll be at least until the end of April), do we even have to pay for any of April? If we still wanted to take our daughter there, now we wouldn't be able to, so are we supposed to continue paying for service that isn't even available?

    Thanks for any advice!
     
  2. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    What do you mean by "messaged"? If you mean text messaging, it would be difficult to prove that the daycare lady actually got the message. Did you get a reply? If not, I suggest you give your one month notice in writing, on paper, in person, with a witness, keeping a duplicate, since you already know that this woman is trouble.

    Assuming you quoted the notice requirement correctly and left nothing out, you would interpret that based on its plain English. One month from the date you give notice. If it overlaps the usual payment date (i.e; first of the month) you pay the pro-rated amount on the first of the month for the remainder of the notice period.

    If she gives you grief and says she meant calendar month remind her that there is a legal doctrine that ambiguous contract provisions are construed against the person who drafted the contract. Any disagreement about what that provision requires will go against her if you end up in court.

    No, of course not. You don't pay anything for the days that the business is closed by the owner. If you have already paid for the full month of March on the first she owes you 13 days which you should deduct when the business reopens. Isn't there something about that in the contract?

    PS: There is never any excuse for signing a contract without getting a copy. Teach your wife that. Camera phones work wonders.
     
  3. Brent212

    Brent212 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Yes, she replied. There are image links in my post that show both the text message thread and the contract (so you can see whether or not I quoted it accurately). I assumed the reader would look at those images. Couldn't get them to show up in my actual post, so the best I could do was links to the images.


    Wow, after re-reading my original post, it definitely would be odd if you don't look at the linked images.
    What did you think all this was about??
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2020
  4. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    There were no documents in those images. Just a black square was all I could see. Another argument against text messages as evidence. If you thought you had those images, went to court and all the judge could see was a black square you'd be sunk.

    For future reference, always put notices in writing, on paper, and document the delivery.
     
  5. Brent212

    Brent212 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Well obviously if I was going to court, I'd have printed the images out, as clearly not everyone is tech savvy (I assure you the links don't go to black squares). A photo of a written notice on imgur is no better than a screenshot of text messages on imgur. I mean, the contract in the second photo *is* a physical piece of paper, so are these black squares you're seeing also an argument against using printed out contracts as evidence? There are definitely valid reasons texts don't seem like a good form of evidence, but this is not one of them. Bit of a stretch to think that because I'm showing images on a website forum through links to digital images, that I'd also be showing those images to a judge through links to them on a website forum.

    And, as should be obvious, I'm nowhere near taking any legal course of action, just asking what I'm legally obligated to pay under the assumption that what I've written is fact. If I were really concerned, I'd have brought a written notice shortly after the text exchange, and may still do so if it seems useful in the near future.
     
  6. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Wow, sensitive much? No need to get huffy. I answered your question.
     
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  7. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    No reason to think that, if you gave notice on 3/17, you would be liable to pay beyond 4/17.

    No.
     
  8. Brent212

    Brent212 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    It's not clear what "that" is, in "No reason to think that".
    Did you mean "wouldn't" be liable? Or are you saying that I *do* have to pay for the full month of April?
     
  9. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    read the sentence without the ", if you gave notice on 3/17," clause and then read it with the clause.
     
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  10. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Basic English. Remove the phrase between the two commas and you are left with:

    Which leaves "would" correct.
     
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  11. Brent212

    Brent212 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Ah, I thought that first comma was a period. My bad.
     
  12. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    Write "I will use a larger screen size" 100 times. :)
     
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  13. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Others have already correctly clarified what I wrote. The sentence could also have been written as follows: "If you gave notice on 3/17, there is no reason to think you would be liable to pay beyond 4/17."
     
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