If you have a sling on hire from Morecambe Bay Slings, or from any sling library, then I have a direct request for you. Please return or renew it on time.
If plans have changed, illness has struck, and suddenly you aren’t able to come in when your sling is due, then let me know straight away that you aren’t able to come in. You have my phone number from the reminder text I sent out, there is also our facebook page which you can message us on. I’ll send you details for a paypal payment, then your hire is renewed and there is very little impact. As well as knowing that that sling won’t be available for anyone else to hire today, we are also able to sort out the admin for it within the library session.
At the end of today’s library session we had 7 overdue slings, people who hadn’t contacted us, or who had promised paypal payments in advance of the session, but it hadn’t happened, for some of those people the situation has been going on for weeks, with them ignoring messages from me. This situation is becoming worryingly commonplace and impacts both on us as a library and on me personally. It’s getting worse and this needs to change so that we can all go on enjoying this fantastic service that is a gathering of parents helping each other, sharing knowledge, trained professionals sharing time for free, and very affordable hire that is accessible to all.
So, what is the impact on our Sling Library and on myself if you were due to return a sling today and you don’t come in?
If you don’t contact us, that sling isn’t available for other library customers to see, try on or hire. It might be that they traveled in specially to try the sling that you currently have, having already checked out with us before the meet when it was due back. Somebody might have patiently sat through the whole session, hoping that you arrive soon because they really want to try that particular sling before they go.
There is an impact on our time (mine especially). All of us give our time freely for sling library. We are volunteers and do not make a penny from sling library ourselves. We give our time for free because we are passionate about slings, have enjoyed carrying our babies and toddlers and want to help enable others. We see the difference that it makes when a parent whose baby won’t be put down can now do the cuddles handsfree, we see the love on your faces as you gaze down at their tiny sleeping faces and we want to continue to be a part of this amazing library that enables and empowers so many parents. But, increasingly, as we grow, it seems that it isn’t enough for us to give the time on sling meet day, but I need to keep on checking messages throughout the week, checking what still isn’t back or paid for despite repeated messages, checking paypal to see whether the money has landed yet. I send reminder messages to everyone the day before their sling is due, and I’m happy to do this, I allocate time each week for it. However, to keep on throughout the week checking, messaging and re-checking is more than I signed up for. It doesn’t fill me with joy, but rather anxiety over whether I’m hitting the right balance in my message, I don’t want to be naggy. I try not to bombard people with too many messages about overdue slings, but at the same time, we need our stock back, or we need it paying for on time. Still, when I’m spending hours chasing up overdue slings, deliberating over the wording and asking my fellow volunteers for help with what to say and this takes up a whole evening, an evening that I had scheduled to get on with some of my own paid work, that’s simply not fair.
There is an impact on our funds. Not only are we unable to hire out the sling you have, and in some cases have no idea when you will actually return it, but as we are not receiving hire fees from you, we are not taking money which we can use to buy more stock. We are a not-for-profit community interest company and all the hire fees we take are funneled straight back into the library. Most of the money is to ensure we can keep up with demand for slings by buying new ones as and when needed. An overdue, unpaid for sling, actually takes away our money twice as we are both losing out on the hire fee that could have gone towards buying a new sling, and the hire fees that that new sling could have brought in!
Earlier this year we updated our T&Cs and we were all keen that the fee for overdue slings should be high – if they are the same price as a standard hire then there is no incentive to return them on time, so it becomes a nightmare to try to keep on top of what people owe when they let time drag on without returning. Our overdue fees are now £1 per day, with this then increasing by having the hire fee added to that after a week, (yet still accruinng the £1 per day), then the full cost of the carrier added on too if you fail to get in touch within a month. You agree to this when you hire anything from us. One issue people may have with this is that they think ‘oh, but suchabody at sling library is my friend, that fee won’t apply to me’ – well, actually it does. Everybody who hires agrees to our T&Cs where our fees are laid out clearly. Or maybe somebody heard of someone who had an overdue sling a long time ago and is sure that they didn’t pay that much – maybe they didn’t – as I said, we updated our T&Cs this year, and it’s those that you agreed to when you hired. We’re constantly trying to improve what we do, and now each and every time you do a hire, the T&Cs pop up on our laptop screen and have to be agreed to for the hire to be completed. If you think our fees are too steep, then we’re not twisting your arm to hire from us. In fact, as far as we know we are the one of the cheapest sling libraries in the UK, with our standard hire fee for members (who have paid a £20 annual membership fee) being just £7 for 4 weeks.
So, if your circumstances change and you can’t make it in, how do you avoid the overdue fees? It’s quite straightforward, keep in touch with us and sort out payment before the end of the library session when the sling was due. With the joys of modern technology, making an online payment is as quick as sending a text message. Just let me know as soon as you can that you aren’t going to be able to make it and I’ll send you a paylink or a gocardless request to authorise a payment, and renew the hire as soon as the money has landed. Keeping in touch with us is key.
Sling libraries are fantastic and I love ours. In the 2.5 years that I’ve been involved in it, it has grown so much. So many people come through our doors and discover what a difference a sling and how liberating it is to carry their child in this way, so many people make new friends, enjoy spending time with other like-minded parents, trying out different types of slings and seeing our children grow. Lets keep it great and keep focusing on the positives.