Augustine: How Scientology makes it so hard to get your money back - 2016-02-27
Frequent contributor Jeffrey Augustine is back to help us with another look at Scientology's policies and procedures. In this case, what it means to turn over money for future use, and what happens when you ask for it back. Help us figure it out, Jeff!
It's a scenario all too familiar in the Church of Scientology: A Scientologist is pressured by a Scientology salesperson — called a registrar or a "reg" for short — to fork over a large sum of money to pay for courses he or she may not take for years. This is called "putting money on account."
"Putting money on account" makes it sound like the money is in a bank account, and can be added to or taken out. In practice, once a Scientologist puts money on account that money is no longer theirs. The money is treated as a donation and instantly becomes the Church's money. And per the terms of the donation contract the Scientologist signs when they make an "advance payment" – which is, legally speaking, a cash donation to the Church – they may never get their money back unless they complete a process that is deliberately designed to be obstructionist, glacially time-consuming, intimidating, and punitive.