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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last Friday (November 22) I pre-paid my riding instructor/owner of the stable for a package of 12 lessons. Later that day I had a terrible lesson which was the last lesson from the previous package of 12 lessons (given by her daughter). I had had issues with the daughter before, but thought the owner had straightened everything out with the daughter. Apparently not! I was working on a posting trot in the arena with the daughter behind me and by the time I was facing the direction of the daughter, it seemed that the daughter had left halfway through the lesson.

I contacted the owner via e-mail later that day (Friday) and told her I would not be returning since it was obvious that my goals and riding abilities were not compatible with the riding philosophy of the staff. After telling her in two separate e-mails that I wanted a refund of my money, she told me today (Tuesday) that she doesn't give refunds, even though I have not started with the current package of lessons.

I will be taking her to small claims court if she continues to not refund me, but would like to know if anyone else has ever had this happen to them? How did you address the problem, how long did you give that person to respond to the request for a refund?

If it makes a difference, I am located in Washington State.
 

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Last Friday (November 22) I pre-paid my riding instructor/owner of the stable for a package of 12 lessons. Later that day I had a terrible lesson which was the last lesson from the previous package of 12 lessons (given by her daughter). I had had issues with the daughter before, but thought the owner had straightened everything out with the daughter. Apparently not! I was working on a posting trot in the arena with the daughter behind me and by the time I was facing the direction of the daughter, it seemed that the daughter had left halfway through the lesson.

I contacted the owner via e-mail later that day (Friday) and told her I would not be returning since it was obvious that my goals and riding abilities were not compatible with the riding philosophy of the staff. After telling her in two separate e-mails that I wanted a refund of my money, she told me today (Tuesday) that she doesn't give refunds, even though I have not started with the current package of lessons.

I will be taking her to small claims court if she continues to not refund me, but would like to know if anyone else has ever had this happen to them? How did you address the problem, how long did you give that person to respond to the request for a refund?

If it makes a difference, I am located in Washington State.
I understand the documentation that emails offer, but why didn't you just speak to her directly ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
She had gone out to deposit my money and was not there before I had left the premises. Additionally, I have very poor telephone service, and I have no intentions of physically returning to the stable. E-mail offers documentation, a telephone conversation does not.
 

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Does the daughter normally give the lessons? Did you explain to her that her daughter had left you halfway through the lesson? Do you like the mother as an instructor? If so I would tell her that you will do this last set of lessons, but only if she is the one giving you the lesson.

It is a tough call is there anything in the agreement that states the lessons are non-refundable?
 

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Just fyi, small claims court can order them to pay you monies if the judgement goes in your favor, but nothing actually makes them pay you that money. At least thats how it is where I am.
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Just fyi, small claims court can order them to pay you monies if the judgement goes in your favor, but nothing actually makes them pay you that money. At least thats how it is where I am.
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That's right. You can get the judgement in your favor, but you still have to try and actually collect it.
 

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Did you pay by check or credit card? If so cancel/dispute payment. Always better to make them chase you for the money.

If you paid by cash, do you have a receipt? Does it state "non-refundable?" Did you sign anything or receive anything (release form, lesson coupons, etc." stating non-refundable? Are there any sings posted in the office stating non-refundable?

If non-refundable was communicated to you, you have little chance of winning in court based on the info given.

Even if not, it doesn't sound like you have a good case. You took 11 lessons and liked them enough to buy another package of 12. You had a bad experience with one lesson and suddenly - without any attempt to work things out - you want a full refund?

I'm not picking in you, but you have to look at it the way a third party will. The big hole in your position is buying the second lesson package.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Lessons were paid for in cash, no receipt. I have actually had several sets of lessons, usually from the mother or an associate, but not normally the daughter. Lessons from the mother and the associate were fine, but the lessons from the daughter were half-hearted at best and I had told the mother on previous occasions that I was not pleased. Her daughter apparently believes that if I just tried harder, I could undo built up scar tissue from a decades old back injury which prevents me from moving very quickly and which makes riding over jumps rather unpleasant during extremely cold weather. The daughter insisted on having me attempt jumps during the lesson, even though I had that very morning pointed out that I would be loathe to do any jumping that day. As a relative beginner, it's fairly easy to change the focus of the lesson (which is what the mother always does), but it seemed that the daughter felt that I just wasn't trying hard enough and after a great deal of rolling of eyes and exasperated sighs, she left. I obviously didn't communicate to the mother as well as I thought since she had her daughter teach the last lesson. One last thing, the daughter much prefers to teach children how to jump, and has little to no empathy for me as a much older student who simply wants to learn how to safely ride a horse and is willing to spend a lot of time working on the basics of flatwork. Jumping is not my main focus, and I have discussed that several times with the mother and the associate.

I have e-mail communication acknowledging receipt of the money, but nothing in writing that says PRE-PAID lessons which have not yet been taught are non-refundable until the last e-mail.

I will take the suggestion that I communicate with the mother that I would be willing to take the lessons with her only, but no one else.
 

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Lessons were paid for in cash, no receipt.
If you end up taking her to small claims court, this is going to hurt you.

ALWAYS get a receipt. Or don't give the money.

What does your contract for the lessons say? (although I would assume you don't have one) Again, this is where things in writing can stop a headache before it starts.
 

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Glad it all worked out for you, that's what I was going to say, if they don't give refunds, you might as well just use up the lessons. Small claims court is a gamble and usually not worth it if you have to pay officials to collect your settlement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Chevaux, an interesting thought! However, I have arranged to have lessons strictly with the mother, and then will move to another stable for lessons. There are quite a few places within easy driving distance (at least three in under ten minutes) so I am fairly certain that I will find a place where I am comfortable.
 

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I'm sorry to hear you had a bad experience. Horse people can be crazy ._. I certainly would have refunded you xD
 

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Explain to me why the instructor is pushing beginners to jump before they have basic skills. That should of made you run the other way a long time ago. I understand the "kool" factor with kids but you're going to screw up any balance and rhythm you might have and it will take you much longer to develop a good seat.
 

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Chevaux, an interesting thought! However, I have arranged to have lessons strictly with the mother, and then will move to another stable for lessons.
That was exactly what I was going to suggest you do. Hope that works well for you in the end, but at the end of your business with her don't be afraid to tactfully/politely tell her WHY you're not coming back. Sometimes business owners need to know why they may not be keeping their clientele, otherwise they're left thinking "Bah, crappy customer" instead of the other way around.

And IMHO, never prepay for lessons ANYWHERE until you're extremely comfortable with your barn. Where we are now I'd prepay in a heartbeat as we love it there, but if it was a new barn where we had no idea if a situation like this could occur, sorry...pay by the lesson, of a few lessons at a time tops.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Oshawapilot, I have been at this stable for almost a year, and am comfortable with the mother and the associate, just not the daughter.

I will absolutely let her know why I am leaving. I was very disappointed that the daughter heard the first couple of words out of my mouth and stopped listening.

LHP, I wasn't being asked to jump big jumps, but larger than what I am used to. Large enough that I would need to canter in order to jump them, however, and I am still working on getting the cue down for cantering. I was supposed to be working on picking up the canter to the right, not jumping!

So frustrating when the daughter doesn't bother to listen.
 

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Oshawapilot, I have been at this stable for almost a year, and am comfortable with the mother and the associate, just not the daughter.

I will absolutely let her know why I am leaving. I was very disappointed that the daughter heard the first couple of words out of my mouth and stopped listening.

LHP, I wasn't being asked to jump big jumps, but larger than what I am used to. Large enough that I would need to canter in order to jump them, however, and I am still working on getting the cue down for cantering. I was supposed to be working on picking up the canter to the right, not jumping!

So frustrating when the daughter doesn't bother to listen.
This right here! If you don't have cueing and riding a canter down pat, then it is dangerous for an instructor to be pushing you to jump. Especially if it's anything bigger than tiny!
 

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Honestly even an 18" cross rail that the horse could step over. What value is it in a lesson when one can't WTC with ease and confidence? It's too easy to demoralize and destroy one's confidence making one do that when they aren't ready to. The instructor and the student both lose.
 
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