By Tiffany Gwee
More than 200 parents lost significant amount of money with the sudden closure of The Guardian Academy last month. The children’s sports talent academy apparently closed down due to an accumulation of excessive debt and inability to cope with the payment for their rental and coaches.
The parents were required to pay a membership fee of S$3000 to S$4200 which entitled them to the academy’s membership till their children turned 18. According to Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), the highest amount paid by one of the parent totalled up to almost S$12000 for four children.
Potential Liquidation of the Company
The academy was established in 2012 and aimed to identify the type of sports children were naturally good in. One of the academy’s directors is former national football player Mr. R Sasikumar.
Earlier this week, some parents met up with Mr. Sasikumar to enquire about his future plans and solutions regarding this issue. One of the parents, Jessiy, told TOC that Mr. Sasikumar had a lawyer present in the meeting and explained that he was ”innocent” and “trying to get hold of Mr. Hari Letcherman”, the sales manager of the school. “Hari is not coming out at all, we know where he works and thought about going up to him, but were scared that it might go against us if he decides to sue us if we say anything wrong.”
Mr. Sasikumar talked about the possibility of a liquidation of the company to help alleviate severity of the situation. Jessiy mentioned that there might be “nothing left for them” in the end with all the money potentially used to pay for debt and other costs (rent, labour etc.).
Continuation of Payment Despite Closure
Unfortunately, many parents also signed a contract with a bank to pay by installment, and are not able to stop the GIRO payment that is still currently in operation. When the issue was brought up to Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), nothing much was being done. As according to the NGO, the amount of money involved was too “little” in this incident. Small claims will not be able to help them too because the company is still “registered”.
Many parents also lodged a police report regarding this issue but nothing much was done either, as the cases were “for filing purposes only” by the police. The Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) also informed them that they were not notified of the case.
Jessiy expressed her frustration that there are “hardly any rights to protect the consumers” and they seem to have no one nor organisation to turn to for help. Eventually the “parents have to suffer” for this incident even if they were not the ones responsible for it.
“We (the parents) are at the losing end.”
TOC has written to the police on this issue for further clarification.