Hong Kong parents fear money lost as Little Frog Learning Centre branches reportedly fail to reopen | South China Morning Post

Hong Kong authorities have called on a tutoring centre chain to provide support to its customers after parents reported its branches had failed to reopen, prompting concerns over the organisation’s future.

Parents of children attending Little Frog Learning Centre said they received a text message from the company on Tuesday telling them of a temporary suspension of operations for internal reasons.

They were given the option of either receiving a refund or waiting for the centres to reopen.

But some parents reportedly said they had been unable to contact the individuals running the centres, prompting them to create a WhatsApp group for other worried customers, which has attracted more than 800 members.

Concerns were raised by parents who had paid several thousand Hong Kong dollars in school fees in advance, as they feared they might not receive a refund if the chain went out of business.

The centres offer extracurricular English courses, taught in small groups by native speakers, for children aged 2½ to 12 years old, according to descriptions on the company’s Facebook page.

Little Frog Learning Centre operates in Tin Shui Wai, Tseung Kwan O and Yuen Long.

Calvin Sze To Chun-hin, a Yuen Long district councillor, told the media he began receiving requests for help from parents on Tuesday.

Tuition fees paid by parents ranged between HK$1,500 (US$192) and HK$5,000, with some claiming amounts as high as HK$8,000, he said.

Mark Chong Ho-fung, community director of political organisation Roundtable, said he had received inquiries and calls for help, including from employees of the company.

He said customers were informed on May 1 that the centres would close from May 3 to 4 for maintenance work, but they never reopened, with some parents already filing reports at the Yuen Long Police Station.

A parent who only identified herself as Mrs Tsang said she paid more than HK$2,000 for six English classes and teaching materials at the end of April, but her three-year-old daughter only attended one session.

“I also find it weird as the receptionist suggested that I pay the tuition for two lessons first, but it is me to suggest I pay all the tuition fee till May … I still have not received the payment receipt,” she said.

Mrs Tsang said the centre told her lessons had to be cancelled as the teacher was ill.

“Afterwards, they said the centre needed to be renovated and lessons had to be cancelled again,” she said.

The concerned mother texted the branch again to ask about the receipt after news of the closure began circulating among parents, but she said she received no reply.

“I would never have thought it was a scam as the centre has quite a lot of students,” she said with a sigh, adding all she could do now was wait.

The Education Bureau said the chain had seven private schools, located in Yuen Long and Tseung Kwan O, registered under the Education Ordinance.

The bureau said it was aware of the incident and had already contacted the company to gather more information.

It added the case was being taken seriously, with authorities maintaining close communication with the operator and urging it to provide appropriate assistance and support to those affected.

The Customs and Excise Department, which enforces Trade Descriptions Ordinance, has also received reports over the chain and was following up on the case.

Customs said appropriate enforcement action would be taken if any violations of regulations were found.