B.C. Tribunal rules ballet lessons via Zoom not good enough reason for a refund | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. Tribunal rules ballet lessons via Zoom not good enough reason for a refund

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A B.C. woman has lost a case at small claims court after it ruled she wasn't entitled to a refund for her daughter's ballet lessons, even though the pandemic meant the classes were forced to be held over Zoom.

Melanie Simpson argued she should be given a refund for the two months when her daughter's ballet lessons were required to go online because of the pandemic, according to a Nov. 24, B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal decision.

The decision said Simpson paid Carolyn Ann Seary who owns WestCoast Ballet in North Vancouver $3,625 for ballet lessons and a uniform that included three classes a week from September 2019 to June 2020.

When COVID struck in March 2020, the classes were forced to go online and were held over Zoom.

A month or so later Simpson asked for a refund as her daughter wasn't doing well with the online lessons.

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As in-person classes had resumed in May, the dance school offered one-to-one in-person classes with COVID-19 safety protocols, although for several reasons Simpson's daughter didn't attend.

The dance school then offered a 50 per cent discount on a future summer camp worth $375, and later offered a $200 cash refund.

Not happy with the amount offered, Simpson then took the ballet school to the small claims court arguing it had breached its contract by failing to provide in-person ballet classes.

However, the Tribunal didn't see it like that.

"I find the parties’ contract did not specifically state that classes would be conducted in-person, and I find the contract did not preclude holding classes online," the Tribunal ruled.

The Tribunal continued that the contract hadn't been rendered impossible by "an event that its parties did not reasonably contemplate" such as COVID-19.

"It is not enough that the unexpected event causes hardship, inconvenience, or material loss. There must be a radical change in the nature of a fundamental contractual obligation that makes the contract impossible to perform," the Tribunal ruled.

"While online classes may not have been ideal, particularly given the young age of the applicant’s daughter, I find the contract was not impossible to perform, as classes continued throughout the disputed period," the decision reads.

The Tribunal did, however, order the ballet school to pay a partial refund as the online classes were shorter than the in-person classes.

The Tribunal ruled WestCoast Ballet had provided 30 minutes less per week for two-and-a-half months.

Ultimately the Tribunal ordered the dance school to pay Simpson $125 for the reduced lessons, not the $1,683 she had argued for.

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