34 complaints over closure of kids' sports academy

At least 34 parents have lodged complaints against a children's sports talent academy after it shut its doors suddenly on Monday. One parent has even gone to the police.

Most had paid The Guardian Academy a membership fee of around $2,800 to $4,000, which was supposed to cover their children from the time they joined until they turned 18.

The highest amount involved was $11,500 for four children, said the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case), which confirmed yesterday that it had received 34 complaints from parents, most of whom were asking for a refund.

One of the academy's directors, Mr R. Sasikumar, meanwhile asked parents to be patient.

"As soon as we find a solution that will be of some use, we will announce (it) to the parents," he said. The former national footballer added that he was "sparing no efforts to get to the bottom of things", referring to the company's cashflow issues.

When it opened to much fanfare in May 2012, The Guardian Academy, run out of an office in River Valley, said it could help identify which sports children are naturally talented in.

It also claimed it would provide medical check-ups and bi-annual sports psychology assessments.

On Monday, it sent out an e-mail to around 200 parents saying it was ceasing operations, and that it had sacked its vice-president of sales, Mr Hari Letcheman.

Several parents have since revealed that their children had taken part in just one or two activities over the past year.

Said self-employed Francis Tay, who signed up his six-year-old daughter in March last year: "The activities were not as regular as we thought they would be."

The 43-year-old added that he has paid close to half of a $4,000 instalment plan provided by a bank in a tie-up with the academy.

He also said he has been trying to cancel the instalment plan, and that he has lodged a report with the police and Case.

"It seems like there was some tension between the owners and the management. Unfortunately, the customers became the victims," he said.

Case executive director Seah Seng Choon said the watchdog will see how it can help the parents.

He added that since the company is still listed as live with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, parents can go to the Small Claims Tribunal.

joseow@sph.com.sg