Recently, a letter from the “Claims Verification Board” came to my attention. In it they state: “It has always been church policy that anyone requesting a refund/repayment must do so within 3 months” — so of course, they denied the request for return of funds (as they ALWAYS do).
This is NOT in fact even what “church policy” says.
Let’s go through what L. Ron Hubbard said “church policy” is with respect to giving dissatisfied customers their money back (remember, the entire Victorian Inquiry came about because Hubbard refused to return a small amount of money to one dissatisfied man who then made it his mission to raise hell). And this is the policy letter he wrote after that, blaming the local organization for the failure to refund (Steve Cannane’s wonderful book Fair Game details exactly how this went down):
Here are some salient quotes from the above.
In thirteen years, involving hundreds of thousands of hours of processing and millions of dollars of income, in any organization where I was assuming direct command I have always promptly and immediately caused to be refunded every penny of the money paid by any person who was dissatisfied with his or her processing. This has been the consistent policy I myself have worked with.
I have only worked then with these three policies:
- Refund at once in full any refund demanded;
- Work hard with tech staff to ensure good results;
- Forbid the sale of further processing to anyone receiving a refund and make the case known to Scientologists.
My own often-repeated policy to my personal staff is “Give them what they want and keep them happy.” That sounds like a very indefinite policy indeed. But it makes people face up to and handle individual confusions as they occur, each on its own merits; it presupposes people are basically good and it is successful.
The new policy then is:
- Refund any fees when and as demanded, whether for training or for processing;
These are the subsequent policies issued by Hubbard on the subject:
The original version of this p0licy letter of course did not include the “Claims Verification Board” which wasn’t created until many years later when too many claims for return of funds were bankrupting orgs and Hubbard needed a mechanism to slow down the amount being paid out. This policy letter originally stated the notice should say that money will be promptly refunded if you request it within 90 days. Note, there is a distinction between a REFUND which is for services that have been TAKEN, and a REPAYMENT which is money on account where the services have not been used. This policy letter was also an effort to limit the amount of money being returned by implementing the “three month” rule.
He then felt the need to make it perfectly clear the very next day, with an addition.
In 1974 he issued a policy letter clarifying the difference between a refund and repayment, saying they are both “covered by refund policy” — but of course there can be no 3 month rule for a service that has not been taken.
Subsequent to this, he directed the creation of the Claims Verification Board — but there is no Hubbard policy on this. It was in the days he was seeking to avoid entanglement with “scientology management” and specifically financial matters. So it was was all “advices” which were not published and the “Claims Verification Board” was established by “Board Policy Directive” rather than a Hubbard policy letter.
But, in 1993, the return of funds — whether refund or repayment — presented a real problem for gaining tax exempt status. Promising a “money-back guarantee” is indicative of a commercial transaction, not a religious one. The IRS wanted to know how this could be justified. Of course, scientology could not tell the IRS “we don’t give money back” because the Hubbard policy said otherwise (it would have been a lot easier to simply cancel all refunds/repayments…) and so they provided this statement to the IRS:
It has been a long-standing policy of the Church that if someone is dissatisfied with their Scientology services and asks to have their contributions returned within a three month period, these amounts will be returned. Likewise, if the person asks for return of contributions for which no services were received (i.e. an advance payment), there is no three month limitation period. Anyone newly enrolling in services at a Church of Scientology is informed of the policies and signs an agreement to abide by them. As a further condition of receiving a refund or repayment, the person understands that they may not again receive services from the Church.
Within the Church, there are two separate terms: A “refund” refers to a return of contributions to a parishioner within 90 days of participating in religious services while a “repayment” refers to a return of a parishioner’s advance payment before he or she has participated in religious services. For simplicity, the following discussion will use the term “refund” to describe both types of transactions, because both involve a return of parishioner contributions.
The Church’s refund policy is exceedingly fair. If someone isn’t happy with Scientology — which is a very small minority of people — he simply has to make a proper request for his donations back, agree to forego further services and his donations will be returned. For the Church, in addition to the fact that this policy aligns with Scientology principles of exchange, it also serves the purpose of allowing our churches and the parishioners who are very happy with Scientology, to carry on without the unhappy few in their midst.
So, now the entity responsible for administering the “policies” of scientology has, in writing, conflated refunds and repayments and asserts that even repayments are bound by a three month limitation.
Scientology cannot lie straight in bed.
Whatever suits them at the moment is today’s “truth.”
Blue Man says
I blew. I was extremely unhappy with the service. I did not request a refund because I didn’t want to return to their offices. In my own way I escaped. I never entered their doors again. They never got another nickel from me.
Yes, I am sure commissions are still happening. I mean how else could the cult get their vampires to continue to suck the life of members.
In my last time in the org 2 auditors I had always hit me up after session. Not sure if they got a monetary commission or merely some sort of ethics protection but it is certain there was some personal benefit. Why else would they do it, huh?
Wishing you wonderful travels Cece.
Todd Cray says
It seems to me that the complications that can arise from this policy (let alone the “making it up as you go” part of it), especially potentially with the IRS, accounts for the focus on “status upgrades” over a focus on getting people on “services.” With the former, money is handed over with no promises of a quid-pro-quo whatsoever. Only the latter scam can eventually come back to haunt them.
Reads to me like a repayment (of those unused Advanced Payments) can be submitted any time.
Especially as the statement to the IRS clearly states:
Likewise, if the person asks for return of contributions for which no services were received (i.e. an advance payment), there is no three month limitation period.
Anyone with some Unused AdvancePayments could send in a letter of demand to the concerned org referring to this statement and telling them that they will come by on such and such a day to pick it up. If the org doesn’t cough up the money, file a fraud complaint with a copy to the IRS.
Has this worked for you?
“3. Forbid the sale of further processing…”
Doesn’t sound very non-profit.
In the early ’80’s I had a friend who refunded at ASHO Day. I saw the couple in the hallway and said hi and started talking to them but the Chaplain who was with them told me I should not talk to them as the were refunding and she implied that they were now to be thought of as Declared, which meant I should not talk to them. She said, “I’m handling their refund cycle.” They did get the money back that they were asking for. At that time LRH was still alive and running the show.
But that was the last time I ever heard of anyone getting money back. The only exception to that was Carisa Marion (RIP), who threatened to sue the if they didn’t give her money on account for future services back. This was in the 2000’s or later when Miscavige was running the show. They gave her the run around but she persisted in threatening lawsuit and so she finally got her money back. Other than that, I don’t know of anyone who ever got money back in spite of policy saying that they would get it back. It is clear that Miscavige changed LRH policy to where they would not have to give refunds.
Howie Spinner says
Big price hikes coming next year due to inflation. Time to load up on intensives now before that cost of living adjustment. No need for a refund here. Not sure who’s cost of living has gone up but I guess in general. Oh well what can you do. Will happily buy at a discount and in bulk.
The person responsible for this refund / repayment line was called the Board Finance Officer, usually held by the Flag Banking Officer or Treasury Secretary.
I was responsible for this for about 5 years in the late 70s-early 80s.
Claimants had to go through an extremely tiresome routing form which was designed to dissuade them from continuing.
However, it was possible to get through this routing form. The Claims Verification Board would deduct 5% for admin charges and the balance would be disbursed to the claimant.
I was posted in a mid-sized Class V Org and handling refunds was an occasional duty. I would guess I paid out about 20 claimants during my 5 year stint.
The policy stated that even new people who purchased a cheap basic service had to go through this line, which was ridiculous. The reges ignored this policy and just refunded these Div 6 public out of the gross income. I turned a blind eye.
In my org, the volume of these refunds was insignificant as a proportion of the gross income.
I Yawnalot says
Truly, Scientology sucks!
Mat Pesch says
When I was the Treasury Sec Flag Service Org (FSO) in 1995 – 2002 it was routine to give back $50,000 plus a week of unused money on the accounts of Scientology public. The International Finance Office had a local representative called the Flag Banking Officer (FBO). He would decide how much money, of that weeks income, to use in paying down the requests. There was always a long never ending line of people waiting to get paid the unused money on their account. At that time there was over $400 million dollars of Unused Advanced Payments at the FSO alone and that figure was growing by hundreds of thousands a week. That is a HUGE financial liability. I would estimate that by now all of Scientology organizations have a combined figure of close to $1 billion dollars in UAPs! That is money taken in for which future service is expected. Non Scientologists would even show up to claim unused money on account as part of the inheritance left by a deceased Scientologist. I remember one guy wanted the money on account as part of his inheritance. The account showed the $50,000 had all been donated from the account for books. The problem was that the “donation” occurred long after the Scientologist had died. The book commission was paid to a Class 12 Case Supervisor. Looking into the long list of book commissions paid to that staff member found he was quite the book seller to dead Scientologists. Fitting for this Halloween day post.
After being around the AOLA money lines for so many years, I could smell when something didn’t add up….
Caught many an offender over the years. Ussally peacefully and kept quiet. Ahhh the stories of wealth and misfortunes.
Eyes wide says
I have to wonder how many people might ask for refunds of unused money after hearing and seeing all the cracks forming in Scientology’s holly than thou image after recent very daming information is becoming more and more public knowledge. Won’t that be that be hard for DM to deal with but will he ask himself “why did he draw that in as well!”
It will be like rubbing salt into the wounds and I can’t wait to hear about it.
VERY INTERESTING info Mike. And thanks very much for taking time from your VERY busy schedule to post it.
Too bad all of us who have left more than 3 months ago cannot expect to get our money back. The Clams Verification Bored process was a big challenge to me and I knew I’d get nothing despite having to travel to Flag and suffering through weeks and weeks of going through the routing form plus having to bear the costs of flights, accomodations, cafes, etc. Those costs plus the notion the IRS would audit and rescind all the “write offs” I’d claimed for those “donations” showed me it would be a “no win” for sure. So the cult got a LOT of money from me and will keep it. BUT they ain’t gonna get any more!
Oh Glenn you know someone already sold you books for it all or donated to libraries for all your sins 🤣
I’m pretty sure if you phoned wanting to know if you had enough on account for the Basics you heard about, I’m certain the crew will be fighting for the possible commission they’ll get. Or are those cancelled?
A guy on Scientology and the aftermarth said that he was denied thousands of dollars for services not used with the excuse being that they were keeping it on credit for when he returns in the next lifetime. ROBBERY !!!!!
I would have said how can we count on returning in the “next life”? Hubbard didn’t. Give me the money now or I’ll see you in court.
One does what is necessary to get the desired outcome.