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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.

Locked Out!

“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.

Little Dynamo's
Little Dynamo’s called on their supporters for the A Current Affair story / PIc: Via Facebook

Backfired!

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.”

little dynamo's
All parties at Little Dynamo’s are under fire / Pic: Facebook

So Angry!

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!”

It Smells….

“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!”

Little Dynamo's
No more slides / Pic: Facebook

Scandalous!

“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!”

It’s Fraud!

“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!!”

Looking Back…

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.

Post Via Facebook

  • I hate it when people try and rip.others off, makes me so mad

    Reply

  • I was not aware of this complicated story -thanks for the info.

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  • Oh dear, I hope everyone can get together through a classaction

    Reply

  • I am one of those parents and I am pissed. I’ve had parties there before and I bought my party with their birthday special back in September 2020. So I had to pay in full 6 months ago which I’ve done before with these specials with no issues. I seriously can’t believe they are ignoring everyone and not providing refunds. I have done a chargeback through my credit card and hoping they can recover for me but I’m not hopeful. I knew something was dodgy as soon as the first email about the landlords came out. Goodman has thousands of rental spaces why are they picking on poor little dynamos and no one else??? Why aren’t others complaining?? Because LD rejected every offer they gave them and thought they could go to ACA and still operate. They were telling people they are still hopeful to reopen after their lease had been terminated, I think they were in complete denial….

    Reply

  • Wow, there should be some legal recourse for the families affected- surely they could all get together – they can’t just refuse to refund them!

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  • Things like this are really annoying. On a different scale I was given a giftcard for a spa but during covid they closed down. The gift card is worth nothing now but its sad for the person that paid over $100 for it as a gift to me.

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  • Regardless of all the ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’, they accepted the money and, if they can’t provide the service paid for, should refund the money to the parents!

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  • Those parents are left in a bad position. I hope they get at least some of their money back.

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  • They were definitely in the wrong to accept money when I’m sure they knew they wouldn’t be able to offer the services. I would be furious if this had happened to my kids. They should also never have been allowed to set up a Go Fund Me Page either. I certainly hope they get what they deserve.

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  • I would be absolutely furious and also devastated. I’m tipping it may be illegal and they’re now about to get into BIG trouble.

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  • If they didn’t pay rent they have used the deposits as wages etc. They were on a slippery slope by the sounds of it. Very suss for a GoFundMe page too. They should have had better financial advice too.

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  • They took money for a service they couldnt supply, so they should refund the money. Very hard on all who booked and paid for parties that wont happen now. Especially with lots of families struggling now post furlough etc.

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  • Sounds scary in my opinion. 2 of my local playcentres closed because of covid. I’m not sure where I stand in this article.

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  • I hope these parents can get at least some of their money back.

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  • They may not have known they were closing but if they closed and couldn’t honour the parties then they need to refund the money.

    Reply

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