My daughter's newborn was not sleeping and in a desperate effort to sort the situation, I sought help from Deearna's Maternity Agency's sleep clinic because my husband and I live 120 miles away and we were looking for some practical assistance.
In response to my inquiry, I was sent a menu of options -- from a 30-minute consultation to 1 - 4 weeks of 24-hour contact by phone -- and I chose a 30-minute consult. I received an invoice via email and immediately paid the £55 for the telephone consultation.
Subsequent to confirming payment, Deearna's PA asked me via email to describe the situation, i. E. the baby's schedule (none) and what was happening (lots of crying, everyone exhausted). Basically: HELP! I went on to say that my daughter was thinking of moving to a bottle on the notion that maybe the baby was just not getting sufficient volume and nutrition from breastfeeding but that was TBD.
On the basis of my description, Deearna's PA responded and informed me that Deearna believed we needed a 1-week package for £295 rather than a consult. I immediately paid the balance of £240 to cover the week-long package. I received a form for my daughter to fill out prior to the consultation and "schedule" being set as part of the sleep package.
Over the course of the next 48 hours, it transpired that the baby was indeed just hungry and happily took to a bottle and guzzled it because she was SO hungry. And, with that, she started sleeping. She stopped crying. It was magically fixed and did not require expert intervention in the end. This is continuing without any further fuss.
So, within 72 hours of making payments totaling £295, we no longer needed Deearna's assistance and I called to ask for our money back. Deearna's PA said that ordinarily they did not give refunds and I would have to speak to Deearna. When that call happened, I was told that Deearna had blocked out time to see to my daughter (despite never receiving a filled out "sleep" form or knowing when that form might have been returned) and she'd turned down other clients as a result of our "booking". She refused to return even a portion of the money but instead offered to provide us with a week's worth of consults at a later hour, because there will "always be something else" and it would come in handy at a later hour.
Deearna's PA wrote to me to confirm this offer. I then questioned the fairness of this, searching in the email correspondence to find where I had been fully informed of the no-refund policy prior to payment and I asked them to reconsider refunding the money on that basis as I do not think that this shows a record of full and prior disclosure.
It turns out that the terms of business surrounding consultations were listed on the last page of the menu list of services and I had simply overlooked it. My mistake. It said:
"I have been made fully aware that once I have given my preferred package choice either verbally or via other methods that I have then entered into a contract with Deearna and there is no cancellation option
With exemptions to the following You decide you want to delay the package to a later date, in this case a credit will be held on file."
Subsequently, I have checked with the Citizens Advice Bureau and sadly this does constitute a contract in that we are not at liberty to change our mind and receive a refund.
However, a little bit of good will would have gone a long way here. I am a business woman myself and I have given refunds despite a contravention of policy.
Given that no actual work was done, it would have been the "right" thing to do, regardless of the legality of the contract.