Hundreds of angry British parents are fighting for refunds from ParentPay Limited Co., the online school payments firm.
The Financial Times reported that many parents are still waiting to get refunds for canceled school trips after the country’s largest cashless payments service for schools was inundated with requests.
ParentPay is an ePayment platform that serves more than three million parents and 11,000 school districts in Great Britain, and transacts 1.2 million pounds ($1.3 billion) annually, according to its website. It allows users to pay for school trips, music lessons and meals.
The FinTech company issued an apology after parents complained they were unable to withdraw cash after schools refunded the cost of canceled trips, the newspaper reported.
Parents took their grievances to social media and Trustpilot, the online rating site. Customers wrote about the delays and the need to “jump through hoops” to get money paid back into multiple bank accounts.
One of the parents, Dee Winks of Cambridgeshire, said it took more than two weeks to withdraw 185 pounds ($233) for her six-year-old son’s canceled school trip. “The problems started when the system would only allow me to withdraw 175 pounds ($220) to the card account they had on record,” Winks told The Times.
After a second attempt, she was asked to split the withdrawal by entering details of a second account. After she did that, the full payment still had not appeared. “It should not be this difficult to get a refund,” Winks said. “It was very difficult to get in touch with the company, as they do not have a customer helpline, only an email address.”
ParentPay responded to say the withdrawal requests were 30 times higher than normal since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic began in March. However, the company insisted that most refunds were processed without incident, the Times reported.
“By the end of May, we will have processed approximately one million refunds since school closures were announced, with 99.95 percent of those proceeding without additional delays once automated checks had been completed,” Clint Wilson, director of ParentPay, told the paper.
He said that 2,500 requests could not be refunded automatically due to the limitations of the card processing networks.
Wilson said that “only” 500 cases were not resolved in time to be processed the same day.
“Some parents have suffered delays, which of course are regrettable, and we offer our sincere apologies to any parents affected,” he added.