Monday, December 13, 2010
Help Me Howard: Wannado City
If you have a child or if you can remember when you were little, you probably know how much fun pretending was, so much that a business called Wannado City opened to let kids be whoever they wanted to be. But now, they are shutting down and parents who paid for annual passes to Wannado City are not happy, so what can they do? Here is Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- If you are a kid and want to pretend you are a painter, a pizza maker, a firefighter, even a doctor, you might have wanted to go to Wannado City.
Luis Baluja: "We find that the place is great, the girls have a great time, and it's even great for the parents, to tell you the truth."
Luis and Lillie's daughters, Leslie and Leesie, loved Wannado City, enjoyed the attraction in the Sawgrass Mills so much, the Balujas bought the girls annual passes so they could go anytime the family wanted.
Luis Baluja: "It's not easy to find something that will fit both of them. It's not easy to find something close by or reasonably close by that will fit the bill."
Wannado City fit the bill till last month when they announced they were shutting down on Jan. 12.
Luis Baluja: "I actually contacted Wannado City and said, 'I learned you are closing shop. It's a real shame, but I recently purchased some passes and I would like to see if we can get a prorated credit.'"
The response to his request for part of his money back was not what Luis wanted to hear.
Luis Baluja: "They basically said, 'No thank you, but you are invited to use the pass as many times as you can before Jan. 12.' So basically, Wannado City doesn't wanna do."
Luis says he paid $200 for the two annual passes, bought one in May, one in August, and he never expected them to treat their best customers like this.
Luis Baluja: "A contract is a contract. I feel that I purchased into two contracts. If they are closing shop, particularly since they sold the tickets so recently, I think that is a breach of contract."
Luis says, getting back the money for the months still left on the passes would be nice, and not just for him.
Luis Baluja: "And I feel that is probably affecting hundreds, if not thousands, of other annual pass holders. If they are giving me the cold shoulder, they are probably giving everybody the cold shoulder, and I just don't think that's the right thing to do."
Well Howard, their passes do say 'no refunds.' So can Wannado City go out of business and refuse to refund any money?
Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: "No, they cannot, but getting them to pay is a different story. When they shut down, you have to get in line with the other creditors, but you won't be at the head of the line. One suggestion: if you paid with a credit card, dispute the charge, and maybe you will get lucky and get your money back."
The Sawgrass Mills Wannado City was started by a Mexican company in July 2004. On Jan. 12, the company says all 314 employees will be let go, and apparently they have stopped answering phone calls. I left a half-dozen messages, sent a few e-mails. No one would talk to me. Howard says as Christmas approaches, this is a good reminder if you are buying gift certificates for someone.
Howard Finkelstein: "There is very little you can do to protect yourself. I mean, who expected Wannado City to go out of business? All you do is deal with long-standing businesses or instead of buying a gift certificate for a specific company, buy a gift card from a major credit card company."
The Balujas are out of luck, and speaking of words beginning with "L"s, they are out of those as well.
Luis Baluja: "Well, you know we are the 'L' family. We have Luis, Lily, Leslie and Leesie, and I think the shop is closed after that."
Patrick Fraser: "Howard mentioned buying gift cards from credit card companies. Visa, MasterCard and American Express sell them, and the good thing is that you can use them at any business that takes a credit card. Plus, odds are the credit card companies aren't going out of business, or if they do, we've got bigger problems than a gift card."
Pretending a painful problem is perfectly fine? Wanna do the right thing and correct it? Contact us. We won't look a gift horse in the mouth, but hopefully, we will help you cash in.