5-year-old boy receives invoice for not going to friend's birthday party
The headlines, "A young boy receives invoice for not going to friend's birthday party" has been making rounds all over the net. Click to find out why!
5-year-old billed for failing to attend friend's birthday party
Alex Nash was sent an invoice for £15.95 or P1,070.29 after he failed to show up at Plymouth's Ski Slope and Snowboard Center for his friend's celebration.
Alex's father, Derek Nash, explains that he had confirmed his son's attendance after bumping into the celebrant's mother days before the party.
He claims the he failed to remember that he had already scheduled a visit to see Alex's grandparents the same day and upon realizing his mistake, did everything he could to inform the celebrant of Alex's absence.
However, the celebrant's mother, Julie Lawrence, "said Alex's non-attendance left her out of pocket and his parents had her details to tell her he was not going."
Julie Lawrence then left a brown envelope with the invoice inside the child's bag, which greatly upset Derek. He confronted Julie about the situation and informed her that he would not be paying the fee.
“I told her she should have spoken to me first and not put the invoice in my son’s school bag.”
He goes on to say, “I would have sympathized with her about the cost of Alex not showing up, but I just can’t believe the way she has gone around it."
Below is a snippet of a Facebook conversation between Alex's mom Tanya and the birthday boy's mom Julie after the confrontation. Click here for the full conversation.
Julie Lawrence has claimed to pursue legal action should the fee be left unpaid. However, BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman says,
"It is all but impossible that Ms Lawrence will be able to recover the £15.95 party "no show fee".
Any claim would be on the basis that a contract had been created, which included a term that a "no show" fee would be charged.
However, for there to be a contract, there needs to be an intention to create legal relations. A child's party invitation would not create legal relations with either the child "guest" or its parents.
If it is being argued that the contract is with the child, it is inconceivable that a five-year-old would be seen by a court as capable of creating legal relations and entering into a contract with a "no show" charge.
It's amusing to imagine what a children's party invitation seeking to create a contract might say: "I, the 'first party', hereinafter referred to as the 'birthday boy', cordially invite you the 'second party', hereinafter referred to as 'my best friend', to the party of 'the first party'."
Furthermore, the Plymouth Ski and Snowboard Centre listed in the delivery address of the invoice has announced that it wants nothing to do with the dispute.
"No invoices are ever sent out from the centre to private individuals," the company said. "This is a disagreement between the two parents involved and the fact that the centre has been named on the invoice is fraudulent.
What the experts say...
According to Diane Gottsman, etiquette expert and owner of The Protocol School of Texas, “Unfortunately, the children are the ones who are going to ultimately pay for this... Alex is 5 years old, so he didn’t do anything wrong, but receiving an invoice will make him feel as though he did.”
Gottsman goes on to say that by sending an invoice, Julie Lawrence has put Nash on the defensive and as a result, isn't likely to recoup her losses.
Julie should have instead called Alex’s parents and explained that she was disappointed, which would have resulted in an explanation or in a more amicable outcome - as opposed to her becoming the center of a media firestorm.
However, Alex’s parents also shouldn’t have blown off the party with no explanation. “With so many ways to reach people over social media, it is odd that contact information could not be found,” says Gottsman.
Should Nash have to pay Lawrence? “Absolutely not,” says Gottsman. “In life, there are no guarantees. People make mistakes and miscommunication happens. In the case of a birthday party, the host should be gracious and understanding.”
On the other hand, William Hanson, author of The Bluffer's Guide To Etiquette, says that while he does not necessarily agree with Lawrence's actions, he does find it courageous that she invoiced the no-show. He goes on to say,
"As we have seen today with the party peril in Plymouth, sometimes we do get a better invitation to something or our plans and family circumstances change.
(But) if you’ve said you’re going… guess what… you’re going! Only work or fatal illnesses are valid excuses in my book. And in those rare cases you send flowers and/or a hand-written missive to apologize."
Here are some of Hanson's tips on how to be the perfect party guest...
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