Jeromie Whalen is a technology teacher at Northampton High School who recently took over as the school yearbook advisor (one of the many cool projects he's done at his school); when he stepped into the role, he discovered with mounting horror that the school's yearbook contractor, the field-dominating Jostens Yearbook, was "literally a scam."
The company had been systematically overbilling them for years, sending them things they hadn't ordered -- posters, extra books -- and charging titanic sums for them, on top of mysterious "production fees" and false sales tax claims, all without a contract -- and getting away with it because they didn't send (and were reluctant to produce) itemized invoices.
Whalen got the Jostens to rebate $5,000 for the year's books, but realized that the overbillings stretched back years and extended to many other schools around the country.
His Reddit post on his battle with the company is blood-boiling -- and also a roadmap for other educators looking to plug tens of thousands of dollars back into their budgets, to say nothing of class-action lawyers looking for a payday.
I know that as a parent, I get many forms from my kid's school asking me to send money to a random company as a fundraiser, or for school shirts, yearbooks, etc -- I generally assume that the school is recommending contractors who deal fairly with them and me, but I also rationally recognize that teachers have limited time-budget to dig into each of these suppliers, and so there's probably going to be this kind of sketchy vendor slipping in. The best remedy for that is to ensure that the companies that take advantage of this situation get exposed, so the others will think twice.
So I'm already at our wits end by the time the books arrive, and things get even better. I count the books and while we ordered 320, we received 375. Why do we have so many extras? JOSTENS SENT US THEM WITHOUT OUR PERMISSION, AND CHARGED US! They claimed it was for kids who forgot to order them so we could sell them, but if you look at the numbers of books it conveniently brought the small amount of profit we made to zero. They then want you to return the books by a certain date (usually in the summer) for a credit refund. JOSTENS ZEROS YOU OUT WITH EXTRA BOOKS AND HOPES YOU DON'T SEND THEM BACK.
You think that's the end? Oh boy, not even close.
So after months of being pushed around, I made it one of my absolute priorities to get these kids the most money I could back. I nit-picked every little detail, knowing full well that Jostens had no legal ground on things because no contract was signed and our students had paid a lot of money to this shady company. I argued about advertising, I contested them about the extra books, everything. In all, Jostens waived around $5000 in money owed. Think about that for a second. Jostened erased $5,000 at the wave of a wand. If you can magically erase $5,000 out of nowhere, what does that mean for the charge to begin with?
Jostens Yearbooks scammed Our High School for Years [Jermoie Whalen/Reddit]
(via Super Punch)