The commodification and litigation of niños

Here is the latest:

It was not what Derek Nash expected to find in his 5-year-old’s school bag: A bill demanding a “no-show fee” for another child’s birthday party.

Nash said the bill from another parent sought 15.95 pounds ($24.00) because his son Alex had not attended the party at a ski center in Plymouth, southwest England.

Nash told the BBC on Monday he had initially accepted the party invitation, but later realized Alex was supposed to visit his grandparents that day. He said he did not have contact details to let the other family know.

The birthday boy’s mother, Julie Lawrence, told the BBC that her contact details were on the party invitation.

Nash says Lawrence has threatened him with small claims court but he has no plans so far to pay.

The link is here.  And here is yet another account.  I thank Drew for the pointer.


I want to know what the invitation said you had to pay to attend the party?

Is this really a case of being charged for not attending a free party?

Or a case of agreeing to pay to attend a party for $25 group rate leading to buying tickets etc in advance on behalf of those who agreed to attend and pay $25?

The better way to handle the latter is "include $25 with your RSVP; if you decide to attend later, it will cost you $40 as an individual."

The former is "I'm buying your friendship for $25 and if you reject me, you own me $25."

But since the 80s, it seems like talking about costs is not allowed because that means you do not believe everything is free. Since the 80s, entropy and TANSTAAFL need to be denied.

>since the 80s, it seems like talking about costs is not allowed

"Seems like"? Weren't you at the meeting?

I actually moderated the local chapter meeting in my area. It was late August of 1985, at the High School. Extremely humid, everyone just wanted to get out of there, but we held it together for close to an hour. Anyway, yes, we made it vividly clear that talking about the cost of anything was forbidden from that day forward. Nationally. There were only three people at the dissenters microphone, and they were dispatched quickly. Now, here we are.

Too many people are inconsiderate jerks, even if not on purpose. This is the result. Even if this particular family didn't deserve it.

This is another instance of parental signaling, btw. Once one parent has a party at a "fancy" place with a $24/pp cost, everyone has to do it too. Despite the fact that almost no 5 yo kids would know the difference between this and just running around with balls in the basement for close to free.

How many 5yo do you know? If you ask them what they want to do for their birthday and they say "ski place" do you tell them sorry, play with balls because you won't know the difference anyway?

Perhaps he knows enough 5 year olds to know not to even give the child the option of deciding what they want to do for their birthday at 5 years old. In any event, I'm guessing that the number of 5 years old that say something along the lines of skiing as opposed to visiting your local fire department is exceedingly small.

Let them sue. While the party-giver can claim harm under a theory of detrimental reliance on the RSVP by the party-pooper, the courts have never viewed social invitations as contracts.

Furthermore, what are the damages here? One assumes that the harm to the party-giver is the unused cost of admission to the ski park (and maybe party favors and the marginal slice of cake), but those costs would have been borne had the party pooper shown up and presumably no bill would have been presented. Thus, the harm is - what? - some grade school Platonic version of loss of consortium??

Agreed. Not enforceable.

Curious whether British common law still preserves an equity remedy similar to promissory estoppel...

"He said he did not have contact details to let the other family know". Not only has he lousy manners, but he tells absurd lies.

Good point. What kind of parent lets their 5 year old run off to a birthday party without getting the phone number of the other parent?

And how did they accept the invite in the first place without contact info?

Usually the parents go along. If this is a school friend it does not seem unusual to me.

"What kind of parent lets their 5 year old run off to a birthday party without getting the phone number of the other parent?"

Well, he didn't let his 5 yo go to the party - that's the problem!

He intended to.

These two deserve each other. One's a jerk who RSVPs but then can't be bothered to notify when plans change. (no contact info? How did he RSVP in the first place?). The other is a jerk who thinks billing his child's friends is the way to get along in life.

ding ding ding

Thread winner

What does it mean that my immediate reaction to this was relief that these weren't Americans?

That you're a level-headed but realistic American?

Because if they were Americans, someone would most likely have been shot by now?

+1 Nick. Stupid answer to a stupid question, perfect volley.

had identical reaction as I assumed Britons were better-mannered than Americans. Much as I find the host's behavior abhorrent, clearly the father whose child last-minute couldn't attend should have had the decency to search through his home, his email, etc., in order to notify the hosts of their change in plans. These venues may require 24 hour cancellation notice, so it might not have made a difference, i.e., $24 fee would have been incurred. Generally, these expensive birthday parties are one of the least endearing parts of childhood -- so apparently the UK is no different than America.

Asking the kid for $25 for not showing up is pretty rude. Going to the press about it is about 100X worse. Part of being a civilized person is realizing that sometimes people's emotions get the best of them and its better to calm the situation down rather than escalate it.

As with all these kinds of stories, I'm sure there is much more to this than is included in the articles.

However, if the party host did incur out-of-pocket costs (like a ski ticket or something) that then went unused the parent should have offered to reimburse. The fact that the invoice is a rude way to handle it shouldn't exempt the parents from doing the right thing.

It's not something to go to Small Claims Court over, but if the birthday ski event required the organizing parents to put down money per kid for it (and they request an RSVP), then I could see them being really pissed off if a kid didn't show and cost them $25.

If Tyler had any courage, he'd follow this up by discussing the trade in child sex slaves among the rich and powerful.

Nah. He'd rather be clever than just.

Meanwhile Cahokia's out there every day working to break the slaver cartels. We all owe him a tremendous amount of gratitude.

Well, though unlikely, how do you that Cahokia isn't a Mormon supporter of Operation Underground Railroad?

After all, Utah's attorney general seems to be.

Hey, come on - why should Prof. Cowen care about gallivanting government officials freelancing off the taxpayers' clock?

'Utah’s top law enforcement officer said this week that he secretly traveled to South America to play a role in a sex-trafficking sting operation in order to help fight the crime before victims end up in Utah.

In October, attorney general Sean Reyes traveled to Colombia with a nonprofit organization and pretended to be a bodyguard and Spanish-speaking translator for businessmen seeking children for a sex party.

When local Colombian law enforcement and military officers burst in, the effort freed 54 children from trafficking, Reyes said this week. Reyes, a Republican who was re-elected in November, was working with the Utah-based group Operation Underground Railroad.

The organization works around the world with local governments to organize similar sting operations and fight child sex-trafficking.'

Is it strange that I dont really find this very surprising. Birthday parties for children are expensive nowadays compared to where/when I was a child in the 1980s, when all that was expected of the host was a cake. Nowadays (at least in Sweden where I live) parents are expected to provide some sort of gift bag for every child who attends a birthday party.

You are tempted to do very same in weddings where costs per attendant are much higher =)

Vulgar, vulgar, vulgar.

These people have much more money than manners. They should be deported back to Ferenginar.

Comments for this post are closed