Many Dutch or ex-pat parents who have kids going to a Dutch secondary school will cringe when you mention the name of the large School Book Supplier IDDINK.
The experience I have had was certainly a novel one and searching the net, I found I was not alone. The problems I faced were identical to what other consumers described.
As a parent, you and your child choose a secondary education based on the reputation of the school. Many of us take great care visiting the schools in the region and make a choice. Maybe there is something else you need to consider…
Which company do they use to supply their books?
If you wish to be in control of your finances and don’t want to be ripped off. As soon as you hear the supplier is IDDINK... Run away!
I had the delight of sending my three English speaking children to the same secondary school in Helmond. The Jan van Brabant School, Molenstraat. Having relocated to the Netherlands in July 2017, a TTO education seemed a good idea. TTO is a dual language education. Most lessons are taught in English, apart from Dutch, French and German. All three children were enrolled in the highest tier of this educational system, the VWO.
Remember the excitement to receive your books, the curiosity and getting them ready to take to school?
I ordered the books through the IDDINK online system. Everything seemed to go smooth and looked professional. I paid the deposits for the books and woe and behold during the summer holidays the parcels arrived. Great was the disappointment they were incomplete. Not mentioning the state of some of the reused books. They fell out of their cover or had ballpoint scribbles all over them.
Six weeks into her new school term my eldest daughter still missed three books. My son missed the same books and my youngest daughter missed one.
The school tried to help out and gave the kids in the first week copies of the pages from these missing books so they could still study at home.
The weeks that followed, the tutors soon forgot to make copies and the frustration started. At the end of 2017, together with the management team of the TTO, we came to the decision to get the teenagers up to par with their Dutch. Arrangements were made for them to go to a school for foreign students to learn Dutch first. In November 2017 they started at a different school, different location.
Did I worry about the IDDINK school books?
Well… they were delivered to my home address. I assumed I would get a return form to send them all back. Being new to the system, I didn’t realise these books were collected by the old school within a certain period of time. By the time we realised, the school had broken up for holidays on the 7th of July. Not that the kids could have returned them. They were obliged by law to go to their new school and taking a day off work to return books wasn’t an option.
Not the end of the world. I looked up how to return the books, gathered them all together. Ticked them off the ‘which book to return’ lists and discovered on one of these lists a random HAVO book had been added. My son and daughter were in the same class and had the same books.
Why did one of them have a HAVO book on their list?
I made a note on the book lists informing IDDINK, I was not in the possession of this HAVO book and it was an administrative error.
All books packed, ticked off and send at my own cost through UPS on Monday the 10th of July 2017. I think we can all agree it was send back way in time. UPS sent me a text message which confirmed the receipt of the books and a link to track their delivery.
All sorted, you would think… sigh…
I didn’t get a confirmation from IDDINK but I assumed all books had been received in good order. UPS confirmed delivery on their website.
The first email I received from IDDINK, a week after they received the books were invoices for the alleged non-returned books. These were the books for all three of the kids. A Total of about Eur 600 give or take a few cents. Well, well…
Could I send them an email back?
No, I had to phone customer service. After several attempts, I gave up. I haven’t got the time to wait in these queues. Fingers crossed, IDDINK may catch up with their admin and come to realise all books had been returned in good order.
Weeks went by and come mid-August, I received a reminder by email to pay for outstanding costs. Again no address I could write to. I had to bite the bullet and sat waiting for a customer service advisor to finally pick up the phone.
It started off so good. The lady on the phone found the situation odd. She placed me in hold to check with the manager and by the time she returned her attitude towards me had changed. I must have the HAVO book as it said so in their computer system and the books arrived too late which meant I had to pay a percentage of the new price of the books.
After a ping pong of I never received the book and yes you must have received the book because it is in my system… I answered pretty pathetically:
“It says in my computerised system you never sent the book.”
“Don’t be silly, Mrs Welch this conversation will lead nowhere.”
“Exactly, my response is just as silly as your reason to charge me for a book I have never received because it says so in your corrupted system. Do you have a correspondence address where I can make a complaint?”
“No, we haven’t.”
“Surely you must have an address I can write to? I want to make a complaint in writing so I have evidence of the communication which is taking place between me and your company.”
She sighed and reluctantly gave me the address of the head office. “They won’t reply anyway but you can try…”
She was right, they don’t reply but they do like to threaten in writing. Numerous emails spammed my inbox. I am not one for a one sided conversation. I blocked them.
Peace and quiet throughout September, October, November, December. Happy New Year! 2018 went by in tranquillity until… Ultimoo came along! On the first of November 2018, I received an email from them. Actually, I received three emails from them, one for each child.
Who are they and how on earth did they get my email?
Ah… IDDINK was this deb collector’s customer. I immediately responded to them in writing as these people actually provided an email address.
I explained in not too much detail the situation. Followed by: Sent this case back to your customer IDDINK to respond to. Ultimoo sent a receipt for my email and it was the last I heard from this company in Woerden until…
Bosveld Amersfoort popped up into my post box! Three letters addressed to my under aged kids containing the threat of a visit this coming Monday the 26th of November 2018 by their debt collector on behalf of Ultimoo unless I paid the alleged outstanding amount owed to IDDINK.
The letters informed me that if I didn’t agree with the content I had to respond in time. I looked for the correspondence address to immediately send my ‘motivated’ reply. There was none but… there was a telephone number. No, No, No… I don’t do telephone calls as I won’t have any evidence of what is being discussed.
I googled Bosveld and found three emails. One for complaints, one for info and one which had lawyers in the address. I used them all and forwarded them the original email I had sent to Ultimoo.
Bosveld was quick to respond and informed me they acted on behalf of Ultimoo and passed on my complaint. This morning, I finally received an email from Ultimoo. Short and brief a one liner informing me:
‘By order of IDDINK, the case is closed.’
Result! But… IDDINK still has my deposit and… My youngest daughter wants to continue her studies at the Jan van Brabant School, Molenstraat… which means finding another school who doesn’t use this company and convince her to go there or find another way to get her the study books she needs because one thing is for sure…
I don’t want to have any dealings with this dubious company ever again!