Friday, October 12, 2012

An Open Letter to Dynamite Gymnastics

Important Update: You guys, I made a mistake on this. I took this letter down to Dynamite and spoke to Dov and Michelle there. Quinn was not kicked out of his class. I misinterpreted the billing statement and jumped to a conclusion. I was wrong and I apologize for that. That said, the rest of the things in this letter are true. However, after talking to the staff at Dynamite, I feel a lot better. They apologized, I apologized, Michelle hugged me, I cried—the usual. Quinn will continue classes there. I am writing an update now that I will post both at the bottom of this post and as its own post.

Quinn was signed up to take weekly gymnastics classes at Dynamite Gymnastics Center in Rockville, Maryland. Two weeks ago, he was pulled aside and it was suggested that he would do better in a more targeted and smaller Motion Education class. Things have gone poorly since then, until last Saturday I got an email that consisted solely of a refund statement for Quinn’s October tuition, leading me to believe that he has been kicked out of his class. 

Naturally, I am upset, and have written a letter that I will be delivering in person to Dynamite this afternoon. The reason I share the letter here is because I think that businesses should be held accountable for bad customer service, especially when that bad customer service hurts children. I think it is important for honest, accessible reviews to exist. That is why, although I do not begrudge anyone signing their kids up for classes or going to open gym, I want this story out there.

At Dynamite today, I am going to ask for an apology and a refund for the September classes that we paid for. I will update this post to let you know if and how they respond.

Dear Dynamite Gymnastics Center:

My son Quinn has been taking a weekly gymnastics class at Dynamite since early September. I knew that he was having some trouble in his class and spoke to Dov about him on Wednesday, October 3. At the end of that conversation, Dov told me to get in touch with Kim, but that Quinn could attend his regular Saturday class “for a couple more weeks,” until we figured out a solution. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to call Kim before Quinn’s Saturday class on the 6th. My husband took Quinn to the class because I was at a conference. I came home to an email from you, consisting solely of a billing statement reflecting a refund for Quinn’s October classes.

Now, there was no accompanying phone call or email or note. I am going to assume that this refund indicates that you are kicking my child out of his class.

The reason I am writing is to let you know how poorly I feel that my family has been treated at Dynamite. I am requesting a refund for our entire time at Dynamite (an additional $110) and an apology. Following are the reasons I think we have been treated unfairly.

• During his first four weeks of class, Quinn was rotated through four different class situations. He ended up in the wrong class with kids two years younger than him for nearly the first two classes. Fifteen minutes before the end of the second class, *I* noticed this and requested he be put in his correct class. At the third class, he was switched from TNT to Agility, which would have been fine with me, but no one bothered to call, email, or tell my husband, who was at the class. At the fourth class, Quinn was pulled from his class halfway through the session to be checked out by a Motion Education instructor. This is a child who hasn’t been given a chance to settle in to or get comfortable in a class. No wonder he isn’t doing well.

• After the fourth class, I spoke to the Motion Education instructor to find out why Quinn was doing a one-on-one session. This instructor told me that Quinn would do better in a Motion Education class, and when I said that I knew it cost a lot more, he told me that you accept LISS funding to pay for it. I’m curious as to where this instructor got his special education degree from that he can diagnose my kid with a disability in a half hour, because you have to have proof of disability to get LISS funding. I know this, because I have a different child who benefits from this type of funding.

• When I called Dov, he told me that in a class with five kids, “Russ can’t handle Quinn.” He told me this more than once. I find it mindboggling that your trained instructors can’t handle five kids, including my son, doing a sport he loves. Dov also told me that in a class of five kids, Quinn only gets about ten minutes with the teacher. This didn’t leave me feeling very confident about your instructors’ teaching skills.

• Dov then suggested that I move Quinn to a smaller 2-4 student Motion Education class where he would do better. At this point, I questioned why I would pay twice as much for a class with one less student. He told me that Quinn would probably be put in a class with three students, which doesn’t seem all that much better. Regardless, Motion Education is not something my family can do at this time.

• I suggested that I would look for a less crowded class and asked Dov how hard of a time Quinn was really having. Dov told me, “He isn’t horrible.” He isn’t horrible. I cannot tell you how it felt to hear that coming from someone who is supposed to teach and cheer for my child. That’s when I asked Dov if Quinn had to stop coming to class and he said that Quinn could keep attending for a couple of weeks.

• The only reason I decided to try to find a solution instead of pulling my son out of classes is that Quinn loves Dynamite. I found an after-school class that the website said had two students enrolled, with room for two more. I was going to try to move Quinn to this class, but I didn’t get a chance before Saturday. Then we got the refund statement with no explanation or discussion. No one bothered to talk to my husband at class on Saturday.

I feel nothing but disrespected by your business. Worse, I feel that you have disrespected my child. Even worse than that, you have broken Quinn’s heart. He wants nothing more than to go to gymnastics class at Dynamite. It is so hard to tell him that he can’t.

Bad customer service is upsetting and infuriating. Bad customer service that hurts a child is devastating.

Now, I know Quinn can be a handful. He is quirky, has sensory issues, and likes attention. However, Quinn is generally not only successful, but thrives in group situations. Dynamite is the first place where he has not been able to be included. For a gymnastics center that claims to work well with families with differences and disabilities, you did poorly by my family.

I am curious to know how you plan to make this right. I find your actions and treatment of my child and me to be indefensible.

Jean [married last name here]

You can find a copy of this letter online at my local autism-themed blog (

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