Reader Mail: Child Care Money Pit
Today, we have an interesting debate of contractual obligations VS. the right thing to do.
A Hoboken411 reader (and parent) is quite upset the way Beyond Basic Learning (south) essentially “took advantage” of him, and made him $1800 poorer – while basically providing nothing for that money.
A case of “you should have read the contract” or “c’mon – give his money back?”
Beyond Basic Learning taking advantage of parents
“In this message I would like to expose the tactics adopted by BBL and get your (readers) advice on options to pursue –
Our 11 month old son was accepted at Beyond Basic Learning South in April 2009 for a start date of September 1, 2009 and we paid them the requisite 1 month deposit (approx $1,800). We were actually very impressed with their program (not with customer service) and excited to have our son start there.
Since BBL didn’t have a spot for our son to start in May, we needed an interim solution and enrolled him at Prime Time (prior to this, our son was cared for at home by a family member). Unfortunately, our son fell sick a number of times during the month, was losing weight, and probably attended 50% of the time. As he has a lung condition that was identified prenatally, he is more prone to infections and other sicknesses and the doctor advised us that individual home care may be a better option for him. While my husband and I are big proponents of social interaction and group learning, we decided to take the doctors advice and look for a nanny. Nicole at PrimeTime was kind enough to forgo the 2 week notice period (which we would not have had a problem with paying).
Getting back to Beyond Basic, we told them on June 1st that we would not be starting there in September (3 FULL MOS AHEAD OF TIME), and also found another family who would be interested in taking over for us (NO HARM NO FOUL, right?)
Find out what happened next, after the jump!
(Issues with Beyond Basic Learning, continued…)
“We were informed on the 11th of June that we actually owe them $6,000 but they had internal meetings where they agreed to waive the $6,000 in future fees but we would forfeit the $1,800 deposit. This was the night before our son underwent a major 4-hour surgery. We were obviously stressed and unhappy with this. The reason they provided is a canned prepared speech “we are an education provider, not a day care service”. They could not answer our simple question “How would you be losing any money today (3 months in advance) when not only do you have a wait list but I have found you a replacement”? The answer was well, you would actually owe us $18,000 and we’re doing you a favor by only taking $1,800. I can understand if they would deduct a nominal administrative fee (we paid $100 for an interview already).
Sounds like a situation where they’re simply taking advantage of a situation where they write the contacts 100% in their favor and take advantage of new parents as well the shortage of day care centers in Hoboken. $1,800 is not pocket change particularly in this environment.
We’ve heard of numerous horror stories they had with their teachers last year where supposedly the owner took the teachers to court for quitting their jobs. Sounds like a prewar leader in western Europe! The thought of having this unprofessional and inhuman director take our hard earned money…..we just can’t swallow.
In any event, I’m considering my options here:
- Small claims court
- Gather up support from fellow parents and BBL parents to get the deposit back and donate to a children’s charity – would hate to “donate” to an unprofessional organization like BBL.
- Get help from BBL parents to purse the director of this place to do the right thing.
How hard did they try?
Since I felt that any sensible business would at least try to work with their customers (due to fear of backlash or negative reputation) – I asked the reader if they tried pleading their case a bit further with the business, especially considering they got a replacement – and no money, time or resources were lost by BBL. I also asked if the person taking their “place” would also have to pay the same deposit…
“I’ve gone to them at least 5 times to argue my case (over email and phone), and she declined an in person meeting.
And its not a case where we just changed our minds, our son had a medical condition which needed a 4-hour surgery on his lung and we gave 3 months notice even before starting. We found them a replacement and they have a waiting list.
Of course they would make my replacement pay a new deposit (its refundable at the end of 9 mos).”
What is your verdict?
Should “contracts be contracts?” Knowing full well you know what your liabilities are when you sign them?
Or should the business show some compassion – and understand the difficulties that often come with parenting? Is this just about money and greed? Or is there a legitimate reason why the contract is so business-friendly?
Share your comments below.