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Driving Students to Get Refunds, Transfer Info

It could take a long time for students at Driver's Choice Driving School, which closed Monday, to get their money back.

Students at , which abruptly closed Monday in Attleboro as well as at its other locations in Mansfield and Rehoboth, should receive forms in the mail by this weekend stating their progress toward completing required courses, according to a voice message from co-owner Richard Paulhus.

The message, which is what greets callers to the school this week, states that Driver's Choice is working with other schools so students can complete their training. Paulhus recommends contacting , which has locations in Seekonk and North Attleboro, among other areas.

As for refunds, FOX 25 in Boston reported Wednesday that the RMV would file a claim with the Mansfield-based school's bond company so that people can get their money back. The RMV told the TV station that students would receive "a prorated amount of money that would be equivalent to the cost of the remaining amount of training they still have to complete."

Refunds will likely be slow to arrive because there is a lengthy process, which will begin once the RMV receives the records from Driver's Choice, according to FOX 25.

Teri Marshall, an Attleboro resident whose daughter was enrolled at Driver’s Choice, said she was surprised about the sudden closure

"We were in the car, and my daughter saw somebody had posted it on Facebook," Marshall said. "One friend started posting, and then all the kids started talking."

Marshall said she would transfer her daughter to another school soon. She is concerned her daughter's training will cost more money than it would have had she been able to complete her education with Driver's Choice.

Driving schools put classes and road lessons in package deals, which are always cheaper than separate lessons. The problem with this is that Marshall's daughter took the class, but not the road lesson. Marshall will be stuck paying more at other schools, regardless of the reimbursement.

Marshall said she made a $300 down payment for the package deal. The driving hours would have been another $275 to complete.

"Now, when I go on Labonte's website, there's no way $275 is going to cover for 12 hours of road lessons," she said.

There has been no word on why the school closed without any notice. A brief message on the school's website does not give any details and neither Paulhus nor his wife will talk to the media. Paulhus states in the voicemail that he is sorry for inconveniencing people.

"You have to know from the bottom of my heart this is hard on me also," he says. "This was my life. This was my business. It just went down."

Janice McKearney May 16, 2012 at 06:50 PM
The inconvenience obviously cannot be avoided. I feel badly if it was a money issue and they couldn't afford to keep their business running. What would have made a HUGE difference was if they came out honestly and alerted students to this issue before it happened and did not just close the doors without saying a word. Even the message on the website was not helpful. They could have detailed what would be done for the students instead of a simple "the rmv will be in touch". They created panic and havoc that could have been avoided. At the very least they should have called the students that had lessons scheduled on Monday to tell them no one would be coming for them.
Sara Jacobi May 16, 2012 at 08:15 PM
So sad for the owner! I went here for driving school many years ago. It's kind of crazy to hear it just closed suddenly without any word or advance notice.
Atown Mom May 17, 2012 at 11:58 AM
It's important that people realize that the current owner of the driving school was NOT the owner 5+ years ago. The long-time owner, Michael Watters retired and moved down south and sold the business to the current owner. So, those of us who remember our experience dealing with this school years ago -- it was not the same school. My children took their classes under the leadership of the previous owner and the current owner and I can tell you from experience, I am not surprised the school has close. The rates went sky high and the quality changed dramatically -- the customer service was horrible! I recall, only 2 years ago, paying $600 for the road part of the lessons ($50x12). So Mrs. Marshall, you were getting a deal! I'm sure that's why you're having trouble finding another school that competitively priced. I hope everyone gets their money - what an awful predicament to be in. Kids are so excited when they begin working toward getting their driver's license. I agree with Mrs. McKearney, they should have been up front and not continued taking money when they couldn't deliver!
deb of see-attleboro May 17, 2012 at 08:14 PM
I don't know how families can afford driver training today. How much more does it cost since the state mandated parent "training"? Maybe the parents should encourage their kids to wait until they're 18 . The kids get a year or two more of supervised driving and the parents get some peace of mind.
Atown Mom May 17, 2012 at 09:03 PM
@Deb - It ends up costing betwen $800-$900 at the end of the training. The problem with waiting until they are 18 is that FOREVER they will paying higher insurance premiums because they did not take Driver's Ed. So, they get you coming AND they get you going!
deb of see-attleboro May 17, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Atown Mom: No kid should be punished for being prudent. Waiting is prudent and a fair measure of maturity. Insurance is regulated by the state. Those we elect make the rules. They should make the rules for their constituents. Based on the decisions coming down from Beacon Hill, one wonders who exactly are their constituents. .
barbara m mcculloch May 19, 2012 at 09:57 AM
To all of the parents and students, i am/was an intructor at DCDS, going on 8 years. On behalf of myseslf, and the other instructors, we were T- BONED. We had NO IDEA that this man that we worked for , everyday, and into the early evening, would BLINDSIDE all of us, students included. We got a phone call on may14th you have no job. who does this? to their most loyal employees? really????? so for all of us instructors included, we all got hit. hit very hard.i am furious and feel dooped. sincerely, barb
paul May 19, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Sorry to hear that Barbara, I hope you find good work soon.
Kim May 22, 2012 at 01:23 AM
Wow, I feel awful for the kids! I worked for the original owner years ago. A wonderful, caring teacher. I continued to work for the current owner for a year or so, but it wasn't working out. I loved working for Mike, I went to work everyday knowing I had his complete support. Mike toook great care in establishing a upstanding, professional school. Not the same work enviorment when Rick took over. I wasn't unhappy, just not the Mike W. school I loved. Barbara came on board as I was looking to move on to another job. I didn't get to know her that well, but I do remember the students speaking highly of her. So very sorry Barbara that this happened....a completely craptacular way to be let go.

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