There are some things
in life that are just a given - things that we just accept that
will happen, whether we like them or not. Taxes are a great
example. Every year, we pay them diligently while we often grumble
that the government is taking too big of a bite.
lesson learned in the "things to expect in life" category
would be that if you reserve something with a deposit - that
deposit is probably not refundable if you change your mind.
The idea that a company will take your money, even if no services
are rendered simply baffles many people.
When we recently read
an article about an Arizona family wanting their deposit back
that they paid to reserve a space for their elderly mother at
an assisted living facility. "A Valley family says they
need help getting a cash deposit back from an assisted-living
facility so they contacted 3 On Your Side for help" the
This is an emotional
issue for sure, and having to put any parent or loved one into
an assisted living or care environment can be one of life's
biggest emotional challenges. As we all know, during times of
stress or heightened emotion, we don't always think clearly,
or take the time to ask the proper questions, to read the fine
print, or to ask for something in writing.
Unfortunately and very
sadly for this family, their mother died before being able to
move in, and after they paid the deposit. Now the family wants
their $500 deposit back. The facility said that the deposit
would hold the room for 2 weeks, and a week into that period,
the unexpected and unimaginable happened with the mother's passing.
A family member was
quoted as saying ""They should have told us up front
that it was non-refundable and I think we would have certainly
questioned that and said, 'Well, what if for some reason she
The owner of the assisted
living facility went on to say that Ross and his family knew
the deposit was non-refundable.
What exactly is a deposit?
One definition we found says that a deposit is "a payment
given as a guarantee that an obligation will be met." The
facility in question had an obligation to hold the room for
the 2 weeks. By holding this room, however, they may have passed
on another potential resident moving in, and thus lose money
by keeping the room vacant in hopes that the resident who paid
the deposit will move in. This is exactly why they would go
through the trouble to collect a deposit - to protect themselves
from loss. The family did not keep their obligation to occupy
A person paying
a security deposit for an apartment who breaks their lease will
most certainly lose most of, if not all of that deposit - because
an obligation was not met.
We feel that it is the
responsibility of any person, facility, or any other company
who collects a deposit to, in writing, make very clear whether
the deposit is refundable or not refundable. We also feel that
it is the equal reasonability of the person paying the deposit
to ask the appropriate questions about the deposit, and to get
in writing the terms and conditions of the deposit, signed by
the owner or manager of the company or facility in question.
Simply taking someone's word for it is not sufficient, and will
most certainly lead to conflict and misunderstandings.
We also feel that if
the discussion as to the "refundability" of the deposit
did not take place, then the assumption has to be made by the
persons paying the deposit that it is not refundable, and that
they will not get their money back if they change their mind
or default on the agreement.
Often times, it is the
knee-jerk reaction of the media and the casual observer that
it is the "company" that is being "evil"
and taking advantage of the consumer. It is much easier to take
this view if there are emotional issues involved such as the
one described above. However, for any company to be successful,
they must take certain measures to make sure that they don't
incur unnecessary losses. We believe that this is absolutely
reasonable, but that it must be done within the boundaries of
the law, and it also, for the sake of everyone involved, must
be in writing, and agreed to by both parties...signed and dated.
- Assisted Living