Pidyon Kaparot Now

Refund from shul that cancelled event or did not provide their obligation to announce a sponsorship

Question:

I am a member of a large U.S. Torah observant congregation. The shul has demonstrated a continued pattern of behavior wherein they have pre-paid events (no walk ins), cancel the event, and refuse to refund the money. They have no cancellation or refund notice during the purchase or on the receipt but a “no refund notice” hidden somewhere in their website which they claim gives them the right to keep the money. This has occurred after I paid for 3 events. I now see that this a definite pattern not an accidental occurrence 2. I paid for sponsorship of Daf Yomi and other shirum in memory of a parent where the practice is announce the sponsorship in the shul bulletin and at the start of the shiur. The Rabbi and shul failed to make any verbal or printed announcement, refund the money, or make any attempt to makeup the announcement. The shul Rabbi and Executive Director just ignored my request for refund or making up the announcement and just kept my money. Halachically, what is the shul’s ethical and monetary obligation for refunding cancelled events and not providing the announcement “service.” According to state and federal consumer protection laws, the shul is required to state their refund and cancellation policy during the payment process and on the receipt, not buried on their website that all donations and payments are nonrefundable. I believe that their fundraising behavior lacks ethics (trustworthiness) let alone does not elicit members to attend events or sponsor shirum once they experience this continued practice. Thank you.

 

Answer:

Our apologies, but the site was down for a little while due to some technical issues.

regarding your question, you sound pretty upset and frustrated. You feel that the shul cheated you of your donation and therefore you want a refund of your donation. You write that this happened to you on three occasions. While I can’t comment on the incidents that I don’t know about, however I can comment regarding the shul failure to mention your name and that you are the one who sponsored the shiur. Although it was hurtful that your name wasn’t mentioned by the shiur, and it seems that the shul should have indeed mentioned your name. However now that it is over, and the shiur was said with your donating the money without the mention, you didn’t lose out at all. The money that was donated if it was as an illuy nishmas, for a zechus for someone, or just simply to have the zechus of the torah learning, rest assured that in heaven they know that you donated the money, and it will be a zechus for you, of for whatever cause you meant that it should be a merit. In fact, post facto, that your name wasn’t mentioned, you have even more merit than if your name would have been mentioned. If your name would have been mentioned, you would have done the mitzva, but a decent part of the reward of the tzedakah was already given, because you got honor for your donation. Now that you didn’t get that honor, 100% of the mitzva will be going towards, your zechus, or for the zechus for whatever cause you intended it to go for.  Therefore, the fact that they didn’t recognize your donation didn’t take anything way from you, in fact, you actually gained on the deal.

Best wishes

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