Birthday party feud – who’s right?

Two families, one party, one no-show, one invoice and one helluva row. We put both sides of the stories - so you can decide

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It’s one of the day’s big stories – a massive row between two families over a no-show at a 5-year-old’s birthday party. As always there are two sides to every story, and at least two sides to every feud! Both sets of parents have been speaking out and we’re asking you to tell us what you think

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What’s the story...

A battle has kicked off between two sets of parents after a 5-year-old child didn’t show up at his school friend’s birthday party, and the mum throwing the party sent the child’s parents a £15.95 ‘no show fee’ invoice. After refusing to pay, the 5-year-old’s parents were threatened that the dispute could end up in court. Oh yes, and the invoice was sent in the 5-year-old’s book bag. 

So first, let’s hear it from the ‘no show’ parents…

When Derek Nash found a bill in his 5-year-old son Alex’s school bag he was shocked. The invoice for £15.95 for a ‘Childs Party No Show Fee’ had come out of the blue but he quickly realised it was for a birthday party his son had missed during the Christmas holidays.

The birthday bash was no low-key one. It had been organised at a local snow centre in Cornwall and was to include 3 toboggan runs, a snow-tube ride and a hot birthday meal with ice cream or jelly. But the parents had forgotten that they had planned for Alex to visit his grandparents on the same day as the party.

“I asked Alex whether he’d rather see his grandparents or go to the party, and he chose his grandparents,” Derek told Radio 5 Live. 

Alex’s parents didn’t let the party mum Julie Lawrence know in advance, as Alex’s mum Tanya Walsh claims she didn’t have contact details to do so.

 “Julie Lawrence and I weren’t friends, we didn’t talk to each other at school but I felt bad about Alex not going to the party,” she said. “I searched for the party invite afterwards and I’m not sure we even had one.”

After the shock of receiving the official-looking bill in Alex’s book bag, Derek confronted Ms Lawrence at her home. “When she answered the door I told her I had found the invoice in my son’s school bag and that I wasn’t happy about it,” he told the Mirror. “I told her she should have spoken to me first and not put the invoice in my son’s school bag.

“I would have sympathised with her about the cost of Alex not showing up, but I just can’t believe the way she has gone around it.”

This is where the argument escalated – going from a playground tiff to a full-blown feud – with two little children in the middle of all the fighting. 

Alex’s parents now fear they could be taken to a small claims court if they don’t pay up. “To be invoiced like this is so over the top – I’ve never heard of anything like it,” Tanya added. “It’s a terrible way of handling it – it’s very condescending.”

Now, it’s the turn of the party organiser…

The organiser of the birthday party, Julie, insists Alex’s parents should have let her know that he wouldn’t turn up.

“All details were on the party invite,” she said. “They had every detail needed to contact me.”

In a Facebook conversation between the two mums that got progressively heated, Julie claimed she had confirmed with Alex’s Dad a few days before that he was going, as that was the day she’d had to pay for everyone. 

“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,” Julie wrote. “My phone number was on the invitation that was sent out to Alex…

“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?”

But Tanya was not pleased with the mum’s response. “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.”

And now you decide…

  • Is it right to ask someone to pay if their child doesn’t show up at a party where you’ve paid for each child?
  • What’s the etiquette with no-shows? Should you make every effort to contact the party organiser or is it just one of those things that happens? 
  • What should and shouldn’t you put in a child’s bookbag?

Come and tell us on our forum thread…

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