With the government winning awards for its websites I had high hopes when my childrens' school started to use ParentPay to pay for school meals. The concept is a great one but oh dear, is it poorly executed. As with the previous review, the website is from a different era and lacks so many of the usability features we expect. For example:
1. Everything is very sequential - you order meals for each child separately rather than quickly performing the ordering of school meals for all your children at one time
2. There is no way to print out or email a summary of the meals ordered (unless you print the webpage or screen shots and you will need to print out several pages rather than having one neat summary); what happened to generating pdf summary documents?
3. The menu is often out of date - I received an email update from Nourish saying the menu had been changed. These changes were never reflected in the menu on the parent pay site and even worse the email was sent out so late that if you didn't cancel the meal on the day of the email then the site wouldn't let you cancel.
4. There is a minimum spend to your credit card which is not great for those less well off families and I would imagine that parent pay make a reasonable amount of money sitting on all the extra cash balances.
5. The allocation of money to meals is very confusing as the site seems more set up for older (rather than primary) school children with no linkage between your cash balance and meals you've committed your child to.
6. And if you send an email complaint about any of the above all you receive is total silence...
In summary it is a poorly designed process and website aimed at making parent pay's life easier and not reflecting how parents will actually use the site and trying to make it easier for them. If you have the opportunity to avoid this site then please do and encourage your school to find a better way of implementing what is a great idea!
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