Wednesday, September 25, 2013

When You're Too Cute for Your Own Good

Anna June, like many other children, has to attend After School Care because both of her parents work. We're not complaining. Last year, AJ had a very good experience with ASC and we enjoyed that she got to experience some enrichment activities that she'd not have been exposed to otherwise, like tennis, dance, and a storyteller who came every-other-week.

This year, our program has a new director. We met her at the open house, where there was a table for people to pay to register their children. I completely forgot about their cash-only policy (which must be a school district-wide thing), and I told her I'd catch up with her later. We were told that her boss, the supervisor of the ASC programs of several schools, would be back on a certain day the first week of school, so I made sure to be there.

When I met the big boss, I had my $25 registration fee, but she told me (though she didn't have access to records with her) that I had probably paid my registration fee at the end of last school year - a $15 early bird deal. This was fine, I said, but if we weren't sure, please apply the $25 towards tuition. I got a receipt. She agreed.

As I mentioned before, the first week of school was hectic and AJ didn't attend ASC because she was let out half days. When I went to pick AJ up from ASC on her first day, the new director was stressed and confused, and she came off pretty abrasively to me - and she asked me for AJ's tuition. I asked if the registration issue had been resolved. She didn't know. I asked her to check and indicated I would pay the difference once I knew how much I owed. She indicated that I would have to pay, or AJ couldn't come. We worked out the difference the next day or so.

Because of the kind of hostile reception I got, I figured I would make sure that they got the tuition the instant that AJ arrived downstairs for ASC. I sent the money in an envelope with Anna June. She gave it to her group leader, who gave it to the director. Easy, right? Well, the director indicated that there was an ASC staff member who also worked at the school, and it would be good to give it to her instead if I was sending money to school. Fine.

So the next week AJ had a substitute all week. I knew it would be risky, but I sent it in a clearly marked envelope. I even made a cute envelope with a printable label I downloaded last year, that showed where I needed it to go. The sub gave the envelope back to AJ at the end of the school day, AJ gave it to her group leader, and then the leader gave it to the director. You would think this process went OK. It did not.

I arrived and the director asked me where the money was. I questioned all the steps where it could have gotten lost. Maybe the sub still had it. Maybe AJ had lost it. Maybe the leader hadn't given it to the director. I was sure it would turn up. Then Tuesday I got questioned again. And Wednesday. By Thursday we were all frustrated and I couldn't stand it - we were at the school for a meeting and we went in to AJ's classroom, tore up the place looking for it and came up empty handed. The principal was concerned. I went on Friday morning to talk to the sub, and she had the same memory as AJ. The group leader remembered giving it to the director. We were wondering what happened. The director even mentioned that another person's money had gone missing. Was their a thief? Was one of these ladies secretly a drug addict or something?

During all this, she referred to payment for "Anna," and I snapped back, "You know we call her either Anna June or AJ." She didn't know. AJ had been too shy to say, I guess. It was almost insult to injury. I'm probably not going to win any awards for my behavior, either.

We were annoyed at the lost money, but worse, we felt like the director was treating us like we hadn't paid. Maybe it was the bad first impression from open house where I didn't have cash on me. So I called the big boss. She said it would turn up, or it wouldn't, and we wouldn't be responsible for it. I used the opportunity to complain about the cash-only policy. We wouldn't have had a problem with a check. She is implementing debit card service, but not yet. Furthermore, I said that I didn't think it was fair that she was treating me like a habitual non-payer when I was certainly not - there hadn't been enough weeks of school to establish anything about us!

Anyway, a few days later, I went to ASC to pick up AJ, and the director met me with a smile on her face. She said she went back to the office and found it at a bottom of a file drawer. She had held the envelope out, because it was so cute, and she wanted to show it to the big boss. Seriously? All that grief because of a cute envelope.

We did learn a lot of lessons. First of all, we cleared it with her that we could pay her ourselves, at the beginning of each week, and not have to involve transport by child. She would not kick us out because tuition had not been paid by 3:05. Secondly, she sent a note home to all the parents to minimize confusion - payments were only to be made to her, or one other person (the one who is also a teacher). Third, everyone is going to try to get along. If they don't have a good relationship with the parents, they don't have customers. Finally, I'll save my cute envelopes for the homeroom teachers.


Anonymous said...

Aye yi yi. I think I would have "snapped" long before you did and in a much louder manner!!!!( Of course, this happens to be THE vice I am currently working on )...... Nevertheless, What a bad start. It can only go uphill, I guess!

Laura Gallitz said...

We were pretty upset, but I think we're OK now. I just was so frustrated - a new personality to learn along with a problem. What a rotten way to start the school year.