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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I hired a venue for my child birthday however it was

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I hired a venue for my child birthday however it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic when the building was forced to close. Their policy states that they will keep a £30 booking fee and return the rest. Am I not entitled to a full refund?
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: London
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: I have emailed them
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Their booking form states that the 20% deposit is non refundable but this wasn't cancelled by me

Hello, I’m Ben, a UK lawyer and will be dealing with your case today. I may also need to ask some questions to determine the legal position.

Please upload a copy of their terms and conditions on here

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Dear Party HiresThe Centre has been closed to the public since 16th March 2020 due to the current COVID-19 outbreak.We had hoped to reopen at the beginning of May if it had been safe to do so however, as per the 3 week extended lockdown directive from the government it was no longer possible to move forward with our initial plans.As the current situation continues far longer than we had initially anticipated we decided to review our COVID-19 lockdown policies to reflect the continued impact on our community.
The revised terms as of 29.04.20 state that:
‘if a booking has to be cancelled because of events outside of our control GCA will return any monies paid less a standard booking fee of £30.’
We have agreed that this policy should be applied to all bookings impacted by the closure due to Covid-19 and supersedes all previous party hire policies in relation to COVID-19.Under this revised policy the following applies:
Rescheduling:
1. All party hires can be rescheduled within 12 months of their current booking at no increase in hire rate for the year 2021
2. The 20% deposit already paid will be kept on retainer and applied to the remaining balance once a new date has been arranged
3. Once the booking has been rearranged the standard booking terms and conditions will apply.
Cancellation:
1. Refund of all monies less £30 booking fee will be returned to the hire
2. Any subsequent bookings will be reset to initial enquiry status and subject to the standard booking terms and conditions.
The Booking Fee:
• The £30 booking fee represents a contribution towards staff costs directly associated with the administration of a booking, and to this effect is non refundable.
Due to the lockdown we are operating with a reduced staff team working from home.
Under these circumstances phone calls to the centre are no longer being monitored.We hope to be able to reopen and resume business as usual as soon as the lockdown restrictions are lifted. We regret the impact this unanticipated situation has had on your event and greatly appreciate your support during this time.Thank you.Kind regards
Management Committee
GCA

When did you make the booking? and were you provided with a contract prior to receiving the revised terms you have pasted above?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
These are the original terms:Deposit:
A non-refundable deposit of 20% will be required to secure your booking. Written confirmation via email must be made.The remaining balance is required 1 month prior to hire date. For last minute bookings payment must be made within 24 hours.N.B. No booking is secure until deposit has been made and date will remain open to enquiries in the GCC diary.Security Retainer:
*This £250 cash retainer is to be paid in person at the centre and is required one week before your booking and will be refunded by the Wednesday after your booking once a full inspection of the premises has taken place during daylight hours post-hire. A full refund will only be made to you as detailed below:● Premises is vacated on time as per your selected booking
○ Late vacation deduction:Up to 30 mins 30 - 45 mins Over 45 mins
£50 £100 £250 (full retainer lost)● Tables and chairs are stacked back in the storage cupboard (as found upon arrival)
● Hall and Kitchen floors are swept and mopped (cleaning equipment provided)
● No damage to the property internal or external
● Rubbish is put in the wheelie bins provided for general waste and recycling (additional waste and recycling must be taken away by the hire)
● Chewing gum removal / Staples removal: £10 per incident removedThis is by no means an exhaustive list but provides the fundamental expectations of the correct treatment of the premises.Waste Disposal
We will supply 3 black sacks for general waste and 3 clear recycling bags. These must be placed in the wheelie bins provided. Each additional bag will incur a £10 fee.Terms and ConditionsMusic and Sound systems
● Music must be switched off at 10:30pm and a member of staff will enter the hall at the appointed time to ensure this has been done.
● If music is required, please bring your own sound system/equipment. Please be mindful of sound levels at all times as this is a residential area.General Terms
● Please bring your own cutlery and plates. You are also permitted to bring in your own electrical appliances for use in the kitchen area.
● Bouncy castles are allowed in both the indoor space and the garden in the ***** ***** Hall.
● BBQ’s are allowed on the concrete area in the garden.
● Alcohol cannot be sold on the premises but allowed for personal consumption only.
● All forms must be signed by a responsible adult - we reserve the right to ask the hire for proof of ID before confirming the booking as well as giving access to the hall.
● GCA reserves the right to charge for security and any other associated costs.
● GCA reserves the right to terminate the booking at any point.
● The hire must remain on site at all timesCancellation Policy
● 20% deposit for hall booking is non refundable.
● Written confirmation of cancellation for the remaining balance of hall hire will be refunded as follows:

30 days or over 29-14 days 13-8 days 7 days or less
Full refund of remaining balance 50% refund of remaining balance 25% refund of remaining balance 0% refund of remaining balance
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I made the booking in February 2020
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
The original terms form the contract that I signed with them

Thank you. I will get back to you with my answer as soon as I can, which will be at some point today. The system will notify you when this happens. Please do not reply in the meantime as this may unnecessarily delay my response. Many thanks.

Many thanks for your patience. Whilst a refund should indeed be as close to the full amount as possible, it is sometimes possible to keep some nominal costs to cover the unrecoverable costs or expenses, usually administration ones, associated with the whole process to date. However, for that to happen, this must have been part of their booking terms and even though this is the case here, I note they were ‘updated terms’ so ensure you were issued with these before the cancellation and had accepted them.

If they refuse to refund you these fees, think whether it is worth taking it further because you will have to go to court and it may not be worth for £30, although it is there as an option if needed.

Does this answer your query?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
thank you

All the best

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