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Advice on Refunds?

Discussion in 'Leaving Scientology' started by Alto, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. Alto

    Alto New Member

    Greetings all,

    I'm a newly out Scientologist and looking to recover a large amount of money on account (far more than small claims court). I'm still in good standing but told my ED I won't be coming back.

    Everyone else in my family is already out so I'm not worried about disconnection.

    However, I've had problems getting money off account and I'm wondering if anyone has gone through this cycle successfully.

    I've read the Church's refund policy and know that they beat around the bush whit the routing form. I also know there's a trick where if I get SP declared I can't step foot in a Church and can't do a routing form.

    In my case, I've been repeatedly emailing my org and they haven't even started the routing form, and are just assuring me it should be taken care of.

    What should the best course of action be? My family's lawyer says we should escalate legal pressure, but the Church has a green paper that says they'll "stop cooperating". A legal battle could be costly and this amount of money is too big for small claims court.

    Thanks a lot for all your help.
    Cat's Squirrel, lotus and Type4_PTS like this.
  2. freethinker

    freethinker Sponsor

    Call them everyday and remind them.
  3. Type4_PTS

    Type4_PTS Diamond Invictus SP

    Whatever you do, don't give out any personal information or details so they can figure out who you are.

    As that will lead to an SP Declare which you're not wanting now.

    And there are so few active Scientologists in the world these days it doesn't take much for them to figure out who you are.
  4. Type4_PTS

    Type4_PTS Diamond Invictus SP

  5. guanoloco

    guanoloco As-Wased

    Alto, post enough posts so that you can private message Karen#1. I think she can steer you in the right direction.
    lotus and Type4_PTS like this.
  6. TheOriginalBigBlue

    TheOriginalBigBlue Gold Meritorious Patron

    Carefully document everything and all attempts at communication. Try to get everything in writing. Phone calls are not very good documentation and unless both parties agree to having them recorded I'd avoid them. You should probably wait until you establish a strategy with a lawyer who is up to this particular task so you don't undermine your own efforts by doing something wrong early on.

    I would try to find a lawyer who has had success with this already. Their policies are riddled with Catch-22s.

    Don't offer them any information other than what is absolutely necessary. They lie and obfuscate and they expect you to tell the truth and overshare like an obedient Scientologist in good standing. They will use anything they can to obstruct the refund. Better yet go through a lawyer for everything. I would expect this to be routed to the local DSA (OSA Director of Special Affairs) with or without a lawyer so you might as well bring them in from the start.

    Org's weekly Financial Planning allocations are set up to skim off the top for money going up lines first and what's left is generally the irreducible minimum for operating expenses. The existing allocation for refunds is probably insufficient for your demands which means they just don't have it anymore and they either have to rob it from a future FP or get it back from up lines. I probably don't have to tell you how resistant they are to either option. What you are describing will "crash their FP" and a lot of people will get little to no pay and lose their libs (day off).

    Certified mail has to go to OSA. They used to have a policy of not accepting it at all but that caused a flap with the post office so my understanding is now they do. Courts like to see timelines for attempts at notification and things like collection so pay attention to a schedule for things like certified mail. If they don't respond in a timely manner that could work to your favor in court and demonstrate a lack of good faith. Even if you win a judgement you still need to collect and that's another matter.
    Lulu Belle likes this.
  7. exbritscino

    exbritscino Patron with Honors

    Hi Alto.
    Not sure if you're in the UK or USA. Don't say if you don't want to ..... Location could be significant regarding each country's laws and whether scientology is a recognised religion in that country or not.
    I'm in the UK and took legal action to recover a large sum of money back in the 90s I asked for everything back, not just monies on account
    It was successful but took 3 1/2 years.
    The thing to remember is that each individual organisation is virtually bankrupt. They have very few public and virtually no income.
    Hence they don't have the money to pay you and will fob you off almost indefinitely
    In my experience the only way to get back money is to force it from them via the courts, or the threat of the courts.
    If they have gotten money from you using undue influence or using criminal means, then this is a significant lever in a court case.
    If you leave it to the organisation to pay up voluntarily then you will be waiting a long time.
    PM me if you want further information or advice.
    You may have to do a few posts to enable the PM feature.
  8. Alto

    Alto New Member

    Thanks for the advice all.

    I'm living in USA.

    So far I've sent many forms of documented communication (emails, letters, etc.) and received no reply.

    Would you guys have any lawyer recommendations?
  9. TheOriginalBigBlue

    TheOriginalBigBlue Gold Meritorious Patron

    JustSheila likes this.
  10. dchoiceisalwaysrs

    dchoiceisalwaysrs Gold Meritorious Patron

    There are in my mind a number of ways to attack this problem.

    1) There is an agreement made between the Scientology entities and the IRS in which the Scientology entities claimed that a repayment is available to any person who paid into Scientology and has money on 'account'. I would think that this is a contract that is being breached by 'your' scientology entity. Thus there may be a legal aspect under the following: "A third-party beneficiary, in the law of contracts, is a person who may have the right to sue on a contract, despite not having originally been an active party to the contract. This right, known as a ius quaesitum tertio,[1] arises when the third party (tertius or alteri) is the intended beneficiary of the contract, as opposed to a mere incidental beneficiary (penitus extraneus)
    You could bring this up with a contract lawyer and although I don't have to hand the 'apparent secret agreement' that the IRS made. Jeffrey Augustine of "The Scientology Money Project" would certainly be knowledgeable of it and the clause and claims that I referred to in the first sentence of this paragraph.
    What I am saying is you as a third party can sue either the IRS and or the Scientology entity for failure to honor the 'contract agreement made between them.
    Or you could write to the IRS and inquire about the agreement and ask if they can rule on whether or not that agreement is being breached with regards to your particular situation.

    2) You can submit the details of your situation to Tony Ortega as evidence of Scientology practices. He may be thankful to have the details and might use it in one of his articles. This might go further than you think as he recently published an article and apparently it helped a gentleman get back IIRC over $70 thousand.

    3) You can submit the details of your situation to the A&E Leah Remini Scientology and the Aftermath and ask them for help in exposing the (in my opinion) embezzlement of your money by the Scientology organization.

    4)You could take the details of the IRS agreement and your problem to either and or your local media, mayor, state, and federal elected representatives, or governmental department which deals with consumer affairs.

    5) You could contact current and or former members of your local org and discuss it with them and let them know of the situation and ask them if they know of any others who have had similar problems.

    Just some ideas for you consider. I wish you all the best.
    lotus likes this.
  11. TheOriginalBigBlue

    TheOriginalBigBlue Gold Meritorious Patron

    You know, their record keeping might be so bad that they couldn't reconstruct a statement on your account if they wanted to.

    If I were someone working in a local org and I received a refund request, if I don't respond, they might get discouraged and stop asking. That isn't far fetched in Scientology because a refund request by itself is very very close to getting oneself declared an SP. But if that person becomes frustrated and then does something where they can absolutely be declared an SP then they can't go to the local org or communicate with them. They can only communicate to the Continental Justice Chief. If a Scientologist even hints that they might sue then that can be enough to be declared.

    So there is a hair trigger mechanism in place that enables the local org to avoid all responsibility for this by manipulating a refund requester into an SP declare. The Garcia case demonstrates that once a declared SP has been locked into their internal arbitration process conducted by the Justice Chief it is extremely difficult to get a refund.
  12. freethinker

    freethinker Sponsor

    Per policy, asking for a refund is an automatic declare because you can no longer do services. It takes a lot of work to get a refund and a lot of outside the box thinking. Every refund will be different because they don't follow policy anyway. You have to think lie they do but not act like they do. if they ignore you then you remind them you are there. If they keep dragging then push to speed it up. Call them constantly to make a phone record. Very important to have your invoices for evidence or something that shows you gave them the money. Hammer on the policies that help you and discredit the ones that don't. The refund routing form and other documents are not policy, they were made by DM and his lawyers. Don't sign anything, the policy does not require you to sign until you get your refund.

    These are some things I used to get mine. Trying to use someone elses successful strategy may not work for you, it didn't for me. You have to develop it based on the policies and what they do. It will be different in every case and with who you deal with. It takes time, at least months, but once you start, don't give up or you will lose.

    You really have to decide to be relentless to the very end, otherwise don't bother.
    TheOriginalBigBlue likes this.
  13. TheOriginalBigBlue

    TheOriginalBigBlue Gold Meritorious Patron

    I've read all these policies decades ago and to my recollection a refund request did lead to an SP declare but I'm not sure if just the request triggered it or upon payment of the refund. So that would be a Catch-22 if just the request triggers it. In that case the poster here would already be declared so the org can't communicate with them. They wouldn't have to prepare a statement for the requester. They only answer to the Justice Chief so he can respond but the requester might not even know they have been declared and need to contact the Justice Chief. And even then they can't physically go see the Justice Chief because they are declared.

    All of Scientology is wired to send you into a hopeless maze like this and you sign agreements to make yourself comply with it.

    I remember seeing checks issued for refunds having waivers typed where you endorse the check so that when you endorse the check you are signing another waiver.

    That pretty much sums up what it means to be a Scientologist right there.

    [email protected] New Member

    I did not read all the responses but here is my advice and I did get a repayment successfully. Do the steps of the routing form, It is the only way the organization can administratively get the paperwork done and it greases the wheels. Do not appear on social media in your real name as disgruntled or antagonistic. Remain neutral. The org terminals will ask if you are protesting Scn publically ( a reason for them to declare you) so don't protest and tell them you are not. Use someone at OSA to help. This is a legal matter and OSA staff members have this as a part of their job ( protect the church) so they can help get the org to push the routing form through. Do not be combative or opinionated or a martyr for the cause, etc. Just do each step of the routing form and get the org to do their part. Be paitent because this repayment comes out of the org FP and the org will stall as long as they feel they can push. Be determined, persistent and NEUTRAL and you should get it ( I hope).
  15. Wilbur

    Wilbur Patron Meritorious

    Asking for a refund is certainly a suppressive act, so they could choose to declare you based on that action alone. If declaring you makes it impossible for you to follow the rest of the refund procedure, then presumably that is what they will do. I'm guessing that their unwritten policy is to not declare a refund requester immediately (as that would make their refund-impossibility-maze really obvious), and to pay out on a random number of (relatively small) refunds, so they can argue that the refund policy DOES WORK, if it's ever challenged in court. But for the majority, they probably declare SP at the point where it becomes obvious the requester isn't going away. That's my guess, based on my presumption as to the church's business model (maximise revenue, and minimise legal nuisance).

    The fact that your refund request is for a large sum may (I am guessing) make it more likely that they will declare you on any pretext. Presumably they will try to avoid using "requesting a refund" as the pretext, and will prefer to look for something else to declare you for. Bear in mind that "publicly departing Scientology'" is also a suppressive act, so you should be circumspect in discussing your situation with any Scientologist other than the Ethics Officer and relevant refund-related people, so as not to make it easy for them to declare you. But given that your claim is for a large sum of money, I suspect you will be declared pretty soon (though they probably won't tell you that for some time - they are not putting their SP declares in writing these days).
    TheOriginalBigBlue likes this.
  16. ThetanExterior

    ThetanExterior Gold Meritorious Patron

    This reminds me of a situation I had with AOSH UK, which wasn't my local org but was meant to be an example to UK orgs of how a scientology org should be run.

    I had done some OT levels there and paid for everything I did so when I left I knew the balance on my account should be zero. However, months later I got a letter from a reg with a copy of a statement showing I owed them a few hundred pounds. I knew this couldn't be correct so I just ignored it. However, this reg wasn't giving up so he kept sending me the same statement each month with a request for money.

    Eventually I decided to look into this so I got my receipts for services at AOSH UK and compared them with the statements. I found there were several items on the statement that hadn't been entered correctly and in fact I had been overcharged by a few hundred pounds!

    I wrote to the reg explaining the errors and requested that he send me the money they owed me. Amazingly, a few days later I got an apology from the reg and a repayment of the money! To this day I'm still surprised that they paid up without any drama.
  17. Wilbur

    Wilbur Patron Meritorious

    I also noticed discrepancies with my AOSH account.

    When I was Treasury Sec at my local org, the first thing I was asked to do was sort out my local org's accounts files. When I looked at them, there were invoices missing all over the place, and it was obvious to me that the accounts had been a 'camouflaged hole' for years, if not decades. What a mess!

    I realised that the only thing I could do was to sit down with each active public, and agree a balance with them. The default assumption would be that a balance was zero, unless a public argued that they had money on account. Then we could start doing the record keeping properly thereafter, and the accounts would be in order going forward. Most of the public were happy with this approach, but I had one jobsworth staff member who insisted that what I was doing was off policy. "So do you have a better solution? What shall we do then?". He had no reply to that, but continued to insist, nevertheless, that I couldn't just agree balances with people.

    That little episode added to my conviction that the orgs were unmanageable, if you insisted on applying policy like a robot. There was no room for problem solving, and using your initiative to get things working. That week was the first week that staff members had their pay packets DELIVERED to them by me. It was also the last week that I worked in Treasury - I gave up on the org after that. I don't know whether the records were in such a mess because of incompetence, lack of staff to do the job, or embezzlement. Given that there were staff members there in senior positions struggling to pay their mortgages and bills, there would certainly have been motivations for 'borrowing' the odd hundred pounds here and there. Let's be generous and say that it was simply lack of hatted staff. But it became clear to me how much of a mess the org was in. I also knew that, sooner or later, it would be ME who was accused of financial irregularities, if I continued with Treasury. Despite the fact that nothing could be further from my mind, and I was using my own money to pay for stationery.

    The attitude of the senior executives in the org was that paperwork was just DevT, getting in the way of them 'making it go right' to clear the planet.

    Scientologists talk about confusion blowing off in an area. I certainly noticed the confusion whenever I opened an accounts file. I could feel the confusion oozing out of the incomplete records that I viewed.
    JustSheila likes this.
  18. TheOriginalBigBlue

    TheOriginalBigBlue Gold Meritorious Patron

    Their accounting system doesn't even use double entry. It's like something a bunch of kids created for their tree fort club. I think Hubbard knew that the staff situation would never be stable enough to maintain accurate records so he tried to dumb it down to that level - either that or he never understood accounting himself or wanted a system that was too difficult to audit. I've read all of Vol III for Treasury policies and when I started my own businesses later it was worthless. I had to completely reeducate myself.

    I look upon this whole push to get the Central Files up to date as a prerequisite for an org going "Ideal" as a huge red flag. They promote this as a moral building group activity but it should be seen as a window into the perpetual world of Scientology disorganization.

    If you can't keep straight records for a client's account then the built in incentive to not cooperate with demands for statements and refunds and to refer demands to a senior unit like the Justice Chief must be high.

    Another insane aspect of this is the org hierarchy is designed for each higher org to poach clientele from the ones below it. Each mission and org is set up as a separate corporate entity to create a financial and legal liability firewall between it and every other entity. But the bridge is designed so each mission or org level can only provide a limited range of services for it's level constantly pushing customers to the next higher org and bridge level. This means customers have a constant challenge trying to use up their funds on account at each separate mission or org with a perfect zero balance before moving on to the next higher org. When someone moves onto the next higher level or joins staff or the Sea Org they may never need to use services or books from the lower org again but if they demand a refund they risk being declared an SP. So they either abandon their balance on account, use it on something they don't really need or want or give it to somebody else. To further complicate things the bookstore accounts are separate from the service accounts for auditing and training and has it's own rules.

    This is like every Home Depot or Toyota Dealership being a separate entity with separate records and warranties. Unless they are like a mafia trying to make it difficult for the IRS why do something so inefficiently like that? Is that really why the Marcabian Confederacy collapsed? It wasn't for a lack of a Qualifications Division - they were hiding from revenuers?

    This is all very difficult for a staff member in training to understand let alone a public person who has never read a policy letter. They point to a two foot stack of tall green books and say it's in there, "trust me". Not only do you need to understand all the treasury department policy but because this is all so integral to internal judicial policy you need to understand all that AND the PTS/SP material as well. Just the PTS/SP Course probably takes several weeks. If a new public took a Scientology course in order to know what they were getting involved with should they ever want a refund that course would take about 2 - 3 weeks minimum and it still wouldn't tell them that it was all a rigged money grubbing con.

    For the longest time after moving into the old Cedars complex we used the back side of abandoned medical records for internal correspondence and everything including auditing session reports. The rooms in the basement where files were kept were infested with roaches and rats and the overhead water, sewer and steam lines would leak. I remember going into the basement for an org in another Southwest state late one night to get something from their files and when I looked between the shelves across the top of the file tabs it was like a field of little roach antennae and I could hear them skittering around on all the files. I would have to shake out the roach and cricket casings and droppings from the files.

    Maybe they have been putting this on computers in recent years but I'm sorry, it will never undo my poor impression of their record keeping practices.
    Type4_PTS and freethinker like this.
  19. Type4_PTS

    Type4_PTS Diamond Invictus SP

  20. EZ Linus

    EZ Linus Cleared Tomato

    When I got a refund, it wasn't a tremendous amount to them, but it was to me. At the time, I was a Scientologist on the brink of leaving in a giant huff. I demanded the refund and was absolutely disgruntled, but this was because of something obviously criminal they were doing--obvious in Scientologyland, that is. I was threatening. I did not care about an SP declare in that moment. I'd been in great standing. I was pissed.

    However, I wrote up the situation to RTC, threats and all. The threats were in the form of what sort of repercussions and flaps they'd have on their hands if they kept the money. Within a month there was a meeting with RTC and the org that made the error. Immediately following, a refund was issued for most of the money.

    Then I stupidly returned on services for another couple of years. :hamster:
    ThetanExterior and Type4_PTS like this.