To make first grade at Emerson Williams Elementary School a little extra fun, Colleen Mattatall and her fellow Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) parents organized a school dance, where students can bring an adult.
To make the day picture perfect, they hired Bumble Bee Booths out of West Springfield, Massachusetts.
"We opted not to use the photo booth company that we used last year because it was going to save us so much money," said Mattatall.
The PTO signed a contract a few weeks before the March 18 event and paid the entire $549 fee up front.
But, the day before the dance, Bumble Bee cancelled in an email saying they had a break-in and their equipment went missing.
The company had offered to reschedule but that wasn’t an option. Luckily for Emerson Williams, a different company stepped in to help out, but the financial burden still lingered.
"They’ve done this to multiple people," Mattatall said. "We need to try to find a way to get our money back, but I don’t want to do business with this company."
The company registered with the Town of West Springfield in September 2015, but appeared to start falling apart mid-January 2017 when one of the owners backed out, weeks before the PTO reached out for the school dance.
By mid-February, another owner took himself off of the business license and late February, the business was officially discontinued.
Meanwhile, the Massachusetts attorney general has received two complaints citing a similar issue as Mattatall’s and 11 customers have taken their frustration to Google reviews.
NBC Connecticut Responds called, emailed and visited the most recent license holder, Aloysius Alamed, in person, but he had no comment.
Until further action from either Massachusetts or Connecticut state agencies, Mattatall will consider this a tough lesson learned, albeit one she never thought she’d face.
“These are elementary school kids,” Mattatall said. "It’s a PTO. It’s a non-profit. And a lot of other companies that hired them, it was for birthday parties or weddings or other school events. It’s just really rotten, so shame on them.”