The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau is warning day cares about Literacy For Children and its principal, Jeffrey J. Kaas.
The last known address for the business is 8105 W. Lisbon Ave., Milwaukee. Mail sent to that address has been returned by the Post Office since mid-March.
The BBB began investigating Literacy For Children in mid-January, when it received a half dozen complaints in about a week’s time from day cares in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota. Complainants reported they participated in “fundraisers” with Literacy For Children, but did not receive products sold, or promised “free” books totaling matched amounts in sales. To date, complaints to the BBB total 21.
Kaas responded to the first five complaints in September and October 2012, stating products were shipped. However, sixteen complaints remain unanswered.
In the BBB’s investigation, it discovered Kaas ran a similar firm from approximately 2007-2009, “Kids Literacy Program”, based in West Allis. Day cares throughout the nation complained to the BBB at that time about the same thing. From 2007-2009, the BBB had received and processed 37 complaints against Kids Literacy Program. All of the complaints went unanswered.
“Literacy for Children has an ‘F’ grade with the BBB, the lowest grade possible, said Ran Hoth CEO/president of the Wisconsin BBB. “These day cares trusted this firm to deliver the goods it paid for, on time, and what was promised, including the needed, affirmed books for their children.”
An Illinois day care says, “Initially they contacted my day care facility asking if we were willing to fundraise through them, and that for every dollar made we would get a dollar toward books. I still continue to call them. No response has been made back and no money has been refunded. This was an almost $600 order. I had to refund all the money that my clients gave them. This has brought accusations of stealing fundraiser money upon my business. It’s only fair we receive a refund.”
A Wisconsin day care says, “We are missing over $400 in candy and over $400 in children’s books for our center….I think if the company is still operational they should be shut down! Using Children’s Literacy as a way to scam money is just wrong and disgusting!”
In mid-March, the BBB heard from four day cares, each stating it suddenly received a box of books, though they were not what was ordered or expected, and were described as “age inappropriate.” One day care reported receiving half a box of books in Spanish, which it cannot use. The day cares stated the box included a note from Kaas stating the company is “shut down beyond his control.”
The BBB suggests that if you are thinking about using a fundraising firm, take some time to research the company and the person running it. Check with bbb.org. Ask the company for references, then call those businesses to inquire as to their experience; did they receive their products in a timely manner? Were they satisfied with the quality? Was it easy to reach the company? Would they do business with the same firm again?
For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.wisconsin.bbb.org or 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), 920-734-4352 (Appleton), 608-268-2221 (Madison) or 1-800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin). Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. For an online version of the story, go to wisconsin.bbb.org and click on "News Center."
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