More schools dish the dirt on firm
THREE more schools have come forward to say that the school bus company that had its contract with two primary schools terminated just as the new school year began had also failed to deliver transport services promised to them.
The Straits Times had reported on Saturday that Red Swastika School and Coral Primary had ended contracts with Sindoz Group after finding its services unsatisfactory.
Three pre-schools have since told The Straits Times that they had paid Sindoz deposits from $3,000 to $7,000 for transport services for this year, but were left in the lurch after its owner, known to them as Andy Lee, stopped responding to phone calls after collecting their money.
In all, Sindoz had collected at least $50,000 in bus fees from the five schools. At least 200 Red Swastika pupils were affected.
Margaret Sim, administrator of ELF Preschool in Eng Kong Road, Upper Bukit Timah, said she had paid Sindoz $3,600 to secure transport services for the school for this year. But she said after she gave him a cheque, Mr Lee did not answer calls and took hours to reply to text messages.
The agreement was for Mr Lee to commence bus services for the pre-school on Dec 26.
"Even as the date drew nearer, he still did not call me to finalise details of the arrangement, despite us calling and messaging him every other day," she said.
When she asked to end the contract and for a refund, Mr Lee sent her a message. "He said I was breaching the contract and that he would seek legal action against the pre-school," she said, adding that he did not mention the refund.
Another pre-school, Two By Two Schoolhouse in Telok Kurau, said Mr Lee gave "very bad service" when he was hired as a bus driver last year.
"Parents complained that he sped, was always using the phone while driving, and he would stop the bus by the side of the road to go for a smoke with the children still inside," said its director, Li-anne Sia, 38, who terminated his services last month. The third pre-school declined to be named.
When contacted yesterday, an agitated-sounding Mr Lee said he did not intend to refund the pre-schools' money. "They take the contracts too lightly and terminated (them) without giving me proper notice. It's a breach of the contract."
Former Sindoz employees also contacted The Straits Times to complain about Mr Lee.
Mohamed Faris, 40, alias Ben, was hired by him in November as an operations executive and helped to collect bus fees from the parents of Red Swastika pupils.
Mr Faris, who did not receive his letter of appointment and was asked by Mr Lee to leave last month, said he had never been to his employer's office nor seen his fleet of buses.
Receipts seen by The Straits Times showed that parents at Red Swastika had paid two months in bus fees in November to Sindoz Group, from $160 to $600.
Mr Lee had earlier said his staff had "absconded" with money, but Mr Faris said: "I gave all the money I collected to him."
Nor Esmady Jamil, 39, who was employed by Mr Lee in 2013 as a bus driver, said he left after two weeks as he was not paid.
Mr Esmady said Mr Lee was known under a different name, Ady Lee, to schools and parents then and was operating under a company named East Coast Transport. A check showed Sindoz Group was incorporated in 2008, with Adrian Lee Chong Boon and Lee Phek Guan listed as directors.
Yesterday, Mr Lee said he was neither of the men. When asked who the two directors were, he said: "I'm now in charge of Sindoz and I'm the director...I don't owe you an explanation."