A birthday party at a play centre seems to be the way to go. Entertainment, food and fun are all included in one big mess of energetic fun. And best of all, mum and dad don’t need to clean up at the end. Except when it goes very wrong and parents are left out of pocket and kids are left without a party.
Parents are seething after the owners of a popular play centre have refused to reply to requests for fully-paid-for birthday parties, following a dispute with the landlords of the play centre.
Nicole Crameri and Rolf Clarke, owners of Little Dynamo’s in Sydney, have just announced that their play centre will be permanently closed. The play centre’s lease was terminated and the owners locked out after the premises, after landlord Goodman Group and Little Dynamo’s were unable to reach any agreement over a rent row.
“It is with great sadness that Little Dynamo’s unexpected lock out and closure, by the landlords, will now be permanent,” the team announced on Monday.
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The social media post was packed with denials and accusations that they had been blindsided by their landlords.
The owners were hoping that taking their recent story on A Current Affair would be their ticket to salvation.
Unfortunately, their plea for publicity backfired and instead gave the Goodman Group an opportunity to share their side of the story.
The owners of Little Dynamo’s realised that their “Aussie battler” story wasn’t being embraced and announced that the play centre would not reopen.
Sorry, No Refunds For You!
They also added the kicker:
“So sadly it seems we will not be re-opening or in any position to rectify the impact on our customers, our birthday party children or our gymnastic members.”
“We did not intentionally take anyone’s deposits or payments in advance with any knowledge of this. We were shocked by the lock-out as we were in a financial position to continue operating and felt protected by the government’s regulations.”
Instead of sympathy and support, the post has incited packs of livid parents who are demanding their money back for parties that were fully paid for months ago and flooded the play centre’s social media page with angry comments:
“How can we support you when you can’t even be bothered to contact your customers!! After watching last night, it feels like you knew full well of your situation and imminent closure, yet continued to take our money!!! Where is our refund for services you didn’t provide?,” said one.
“From what I can see Little Dynamo’s received 9 months of FREE occupancy then refused to pay rent while on job keeper and then took our deposits. Disgusting behaviour and 100% they would have known this was coming and still took deposits. Then go running to the press with misinformation to make it look like they we’re wronged. Miserable mongrels!”
“I smell a rat with little dynamos not giving people refunds for services they paid for!”
“Well, I think the ACA segment proved they weren’t wronged, and they’ve dug themselves an even bigger hole. The landlords did what any landlord would do. If you don’t pay rent, then you can no longer stay in the premises. Owing $300k in rent would’ve taken some time (but they used a COVID-19 excuse), yet, Little Dynamo’s knew their position and still took our money! Even set up a Go Fund Me page!! Money grabbing mongrels, alright.”
“Mongrels alright! They thought by going to a current affair they would gain pity but I don’t think their landlords have anything to worry about. They are not the ones who look bad after that interview!”
“Of course they knew! And now the old covid excuse for not paying rent has expired! And our party money has paid for their lawyers! Absolutely scandalous!”
“I have an email with a booking confirmation! I still haven’t heard back from them. I would of never paid in full, if they were honest with me over the phone when they sold me their promotion. I had no idea that they were trading insolvent.”
“It’s absolutely outrageous! I just cannot believe what they have done to us! And they still won’t acknowledge any wrong-doing or reply to us..Even after all these messages! And to think how much money we have given them over the years and how loyal we have been. This sucks on so many levels!”
“How dare they! What they have done/doing is nothing short of fraudulent!”
“How about the fact that all of us now have to pay for TWO parties! The inconvenience and stress of finding and organizing someplace else at the last minute has taken it’s toll and not even a courtesy email to apologize or compensate us in any way….Just beyond rude!”
What A Scam!
“We are all being scammed and conned!!! Where is our money???? We all want to know! We were left in the lurch without even a considerate email to let us know your business was closed and now you are skirting the issue everytime you are asked for a refund.You want our support but you don’t want to do the right thing by us and give us our hard-earned money back! MORE LIES!!”
Little Dynamo’s raised a red flag in March, imploring its supporters to contribute to a GoFund Me page to “Help Save Little Dynamo’s”.
According to Ms Crameri, “our landlord is not being supportive at all and will not give us a reasonable recovery period after our closure and the impacts of covid.” and “after failed mediation, the landlords are demanding full payment immediately and will not budge on their position.”
On their GoFund Me page, they asked customers to pay for entry fees and parties in advance, at a discounted rate.
Pay In Advance
However, this was followed up with a post on their Facebook page disclosing that their Go Fund Me page was against the platform’s policy and they then changed their campaign to purely ask for donations. But they said that they would still continue to offer discounted rates for advance party bookings.
Little Dynamo’s then announced that they had been locked out from their premises, after owing more than $300,000 in rent to landlords Goodman Group.
“We don’t want to let any of our customers down, we have so many birthday parties and functions booked in that we want to host,” they said on their Facebook page.
The Landlord Speaks
In response, the Goodman Group said:
“Over the past 12 months Goodman has empathetically worked closely with its customers impacted by COVID-19 and has been successful in helping these companies continue to operate. We have had multiple discussions and a mediation with Little Dynamo’s where we have attempted to provide rent relief and financial support. It is with great regret that despite our efforts to assist, we were unable to reach any form of agreement with Little Dynamo’s.”
Goodman told A Current Affair that the company offered 100 per cent rent relief to Little Dynamo’s from April to October last year as well as further relief from rental payments until the end of December.
That sounds pretty fair to us! Goodman Group is a business too – they should be paid what they are owed.
It’s a pity that Sydney has lost a kid’s play centre and staff have lost their jobs but we can totally understand why parents would be furious if they had pre-booked a party and aren’t getting refunds. We would be too!
Would you be angry if you were in these parent’s situation? Do you usually pre-pay for parties? Has this put you off doing a party at a play centre? Tell us in the comments below.