DIGGING DEEPER: Joel Box basketball scam victims speak out

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QUINCY (WGEM) — Victims are speaking out following a warning issued by the Better Business Bureau about Quincy-based youth basketball training program.

Wednesday the BBB issued a warning advising consumers to use caution when doing business with Joel Box Evolution Basketball, a youth basketball training and select traveling team program based in Quincy.

The BBB states that consumers allege the company failed to honor agreements to hold camps and coach select teams, failed to issue refunds, and provided overall poor customer service.

Kendall Owen said she signed her young son Keegan up for a Joel Box basketball camp in February but now months later, she said she has yet to meet him because he keeps canceling.

“Keegan was very excited to start,” said Owen. “He was telling his teacher at school about it, his friends, and we just got nothing out of it.”

Nicole Haynes has a similar story. She bought a camp on a Black Friday sale Box had but once it came time for one of those workouts, Box came up with another excuse week after week.

“Very frustrating. It was one of my son’s Christmas gifts,” said Haynes. “We spend so much on our kids for Christmas and that was one of his gifts and he was out.”

Box declined to go on camera but in a phone interview he said he still plans to hold those workouts.

“I have every intention to come back down there to run my six week, eight week academy whatever it is, several times a week for the parents who have signed up,” said Box.

Box said he has always had a no refund policy and that’s why Owen and Haynes haven’t gotten their money back.

“I have told people who have asked for refunds I do have a policy with my stuff that there is a no refund policy,” said Box.

Meanwhile, Haynes is out $350. Owen was taken for $585. They said they’re just two examples of this scam and they hope no one else falls victim.

“We actually knew some people that went to his camps and he was a great guy and all about kids and all this stuff and then this. It’s a bummer because a lot of kids looked up to him,” said Owen.

Meanwhile, Illinois Assistant State’s Attorney Josh Jones said there is currently no open investigation against Box.

BBB offers the following tips for dealing with youth sports programs:

  • Research any business and its owners carefully before paying any money. Check the company’s BBB
  • Business Profile at bbb.org or by calling 888-996-3887.
  • Ask for references and contact them. Talk to others who have participated with the program before. Most organizations – from youth sports teams to dance studios – have an online presence that can help seek out parents who have experience with the organization.
  • Ask for what your money is paying. An organization should be able to detail all of its expenses for the team.
  • The most common fees are for court/field rental, uniforms and tournament or league fees. A reputable organization will give its members an itemized list of those fees.
  • Find out what a uniform entails. Costs and equipment for sports varies. Are helmets and pads included for football, hockey and lacrosse, or are players expected to purchase or rent these items for a fee? Does the program provide bats and gloves in baseball and softball? Is loaner equipment available in good condition and suitable for your child’s size, age and ability?
  • Know how much your child will play. The parents, player and coach should have clear expectations for how often the child will play. Unlike recreational leagues where everyone plays equal time, most competitive travel teams do not use the same philosophy. Research a program’s philosophy with respect to playing time before agreeing to join the organization.
  • Find out the program’s refund policy. What happens if your child wants to quit or is injured? The refund policy should be clearly spelled out by the organization and explained to the parents and players before the seasons begins.
  • In the event of a bankruptcy, file a claim with the court. You will receive a notice of bankruptcy from the court and instructions on where to file a proof of claim and the deadline to file. Act promptly as deadlines are strictly enforced in bankruptcy cases.
Brett Knese

Brett Knese

Multi-Media Journalist at WGEM News.

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