Thursday, 23 June 2011

Exploiting A Child's Work?

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

Lat weekend, my daughter and two grandsons came from the east coast to stay for a couple of nights.
When they arrived here, Dean the youngest, was quite excited because that very morning he had received a letter to say that he had won a competition for writing a mini saga. His entry had been chosen for a book which was being printed along with others from all over the country.
My daughter was offered the book for the cost £15.99.
Although it seemed rather expensive, the fact that Dean's work had been chosen, made it all seem worth it and a cheque was sent while they were here.

It wasn't until Dean returned to school, that he discovered that everyone in his class had had work chosen too. In fact, practically all the class were going to be in the book. The piece of writing was 50 words long and the book was illustrated as being quite thick. How much money is this firm making? They cannot lose really. They use the child's work and they have to hand over copyright and then they make you pay for the book.
The deceitful part of the whole thing is that they get the school to send in the entries and then they send each child a letter to their own home and let that child think that their work is exceptional, when all the time the whole class has been chosen.
I am annoyed with the school too, for falling for this. I hope my daughter will make a fuss.
The cheque had already been cashed when she found all this out and I have no idea if there even is a book and even if there is... it would never have been ordered if she'd known that the whole class have received this fabulous offer too.

Would other people be annoyed about this, or am I being unreasonable?

On top of that disappointment, my oldest grandson, Rick, who is autistic, gave the money to the driver on his school bus today but didn't get a ticket. He was then asked to pay again and as Rick is painfully shy and didn't feel he could challenge the driver, he felt pressurised to pay again and came home in tears.
My daughter is overwhelmed by all this and was close to tears too.

What is the World coming to?





21 comments:

Expat mum said...

Unfortunately Maggie, there are scam artists who will take advantage of every situation. In the US, we live by the motto "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is." In your instance however, there was no way of knowing beforehand. Perhaps the school should either opt out of this (if enough parents complain) or give parents the option of opting out, now that they know what it's all about.

As for the despicable bus driver, your daughter should politely "inquire" about the incident with the driver to let him/her know that she's on to the scam. If she can, perhaps she can accompany son to the bus for a few days to make sure it doesn't happen again. Grrr....

Working Mum said...

Grrrrrr indeed. If a child's work is chosen by a publisher, then that child should receive a complimentary copy of the book, not pay for one! Looks like a scam to me. I definitely think the parents should complain to the school if they endorsed it, and the school should look into it.

As for the bus driver, it may be a genuine mistake or it could be a scam. Your daughter should inform the bus company of the incident and HR should deal with it. If your daughter doesn't get satisfaction from the bus company, she should contact her local press to alert other parents in the area and see if any other pupils have had this happen to them (we have tales like this in our local paper). If so, the bus company will have bad press and an obligation to sort it out publicly. I know it's hassle, but all it takes for evil to flourish.......

Rae said...

What a low down mean scam, playing on kids and parents like that and as for the bus driver, I feel a huge urge to hunt him down and belittle him in front of as many people as possible (and quite possibly inflict physical pain on him also)

Nick Thomas said...

This type of scam has been going on for years here in the US. Especially for poetry. You're invited to submit a poem and "the best" are put together in a book, which the poets are invited to buy. Of course, everyone's poem in in the book! How do I know this? Because about 10 years ago, I submitted a poem that I wrote when I was about 9, and the editors wrote back and said how magnificant it was! I never bought the book! It's all legal, because no one is forcing you to buy the book. Same deal with those Who's Who books, I think.

Mimi said...

I'm not sure I'd have a problem with the book thing. Back when my kids were smaller, they submitted poems to a book, and some (though definitely not all) were published.
There was a launch, at which people could buy the book if they wanted, no pressure. We bought a couple of copies, one of which was given to grandmother and she was delighted! We still have that book, and I love to see those published poems.

Re the bus incident, I agree with Expat Mum, your daughter should follow it up with the driver if she can. Playing up on vulnerable children is just not acceptable.

Jeni said...

I suppose the publishing company does this -and gets away with it quite easily and nicely too -because we all have more than a dabble of vanity and do like to see our names in print. But, even so, the fact that the school endorsed this activity and it appeared to be put forth that only select people would have their writing published -not virtually the whole class -that to my mind, is a whole lot of false advertising isn't it? I'd definitely pitch a holy fit about that and about the bus driver too. It could have been accidental but still, better to have it looked into since the boy could be deemed susceptible to such ploys and be taken advantage of many times over that way.

Wendy said...

Aww, Maggie, I'm so sorry you and your daughter are going through this. It seems like feelings of hurt and betrayal come in waves (or bunches). I would punch that bus driver in the nose, if I were you.
O.K., let's be more civilized, I agree with expat mum and the others, this driver needs to be spoken to.

About the book, I've never heard of such a thing. I wonder why the school agreed to do it. Publishing your child's work is a great compliment, but to ask them to pay for it - no, I certainly don't agree with that and feel as Working Mom does, that each child should have been given a complimentary copy.

Glenda said...

There are lots of scams out there. After working for an elementary school for over thirty years, I saw lots of them - but there are some legitimate contests out there - the school just needs to do a little legwork identifying the ones that aren't. Inexperienced teachers sometimes fall for the ones that are a little fishy. I totally agree that the Poetry books and the Who's Who high school books take advantage of those who are eager to be published or recognized. My older brother was published several times in one of those poetry books after he retired. He never realized that they published anyone who bought the book, and I wouldn't have dared tell him. He went to his grave proud that his poetry had been chosen for publication. It was the fruition of a lifelong dream for him. I have the books now and I wouldn't take anything for them. So they do serve some sort of purpose.

My advice is to let your grandson continue to think that his was good enough to be published. It will encourage him to continue to do good work.

RNSANE said...

It is really annoying. I remember when one of my poems, years ago, was "chosen" for publication. Shortly after, I was sent an opportunity to purchase volume in which it appeared - for $15 US. I fell for it, bought the book to see the poem in print ( had to use a magnifying glass ). I learned my lesson. What a sad thing for the children!

Hilary said...

Yes, it's a long-standing scam and the company is not a true publisher but merely a printer who puts a book together with all of the works of folks who paid. It's deceptive and all kinds of wrong. I'm sorry it happened to your family.

ladyfi said...

Your daughter should complain to the bus company because the behaviour of the bus driver is downright wrong and unethical.

The book, unfortunately, sounds like a bit of a scam. Hopefully, it will be a good memory of his writing and a souvenir of his class too...

Valleys Mam said...

sadly its always the case that children are easy targets,or their parents are .I think school photos come in the same bracket.I refused to buy one year as the quality was awful,my goodness was I frowned on. The driver should be reported and sacked.I also think the book people should be reported to trading standards and the teaching unions

Jinksy said...

Looks like the money grabbers are once again the driving force behind something which should be done purely for pleasure. I'm surprised the school didn't organise printing their own little booklet for the kids in the class, then their school funds could have made a profit instead...

TechnoBabe said...

Parents definitely should complain to the school. Maybe the school officials are not aware of all this.

Regarding the bus driver, is it possible for your daughter to speak to the bus driver in person? If not, perhaps a note explaining the misunderstanding. Not for the purpose of a refund; for the hopes of better communication between the driver and her son.

It sounds like the book story is a big scam; but the bus driver could be a legitimate mistake.

Rose said...

I used to get offers like this, too, both at home and at school. At first you feel honored until you read closely and realize that what they're really after is money. Then I'd throw it away...

I'm sure the school probably didn't realize this was a scam. But I do think you'll get a book, so it won't be a totally lost cause. I do think it's awful, though, that there are so many greedy business and scam artists; taking advantage of children is especially despicable.

As for the bus driver, shame on him for not being more understanding!

gaelikaa said...

God bless that child. I felt for him. Just cover those kids with the Lord's protection every time they leave home. Ask your grandson to be a little alert when he's paying for tickets. I am not very alert at times and I can be short changed that way. Don't let a little thing like that dent his confidence. Once my eldest son, a gentle type of boy, paid in advance for some video games in a shop nearby. He was about thirteen at the time. He came home in tears when he went to collect his game and the man claimed that he hadn't paid and called him a liar. I went into that shop like a tigress and gave the man a good telling off for not issuing a receipt for the paid money. I was furious that someone would treat my kid like that.

As for that book, the fact that it came through the school is particularly deceitful and the school should be appraised of the situation. Maybe the company who ran this competition should be exposed on an internet site in some way to alert people in the future. I know in the writing world there are a lot of fake anthologies going around which con writers into paying money for books in which their pieces of work have been selected and one or two writing bloggers have done a good job exposing them. If you don't mind, I think I'll pass the word to one blogger who has made quite a campaign about this. If you can find out the name of the company it might prove to be one of the same companies which regularly try to con writers.

Lovely to be in touch again, Maggie, I've been run off my feet since the kids have been on their hols.

Akelamalu said...

That is definitely exploitation and should be made public knowledge. If I was your daughter I would be complaining to the school and contacting the press - it's disgusting and upsetting for the children.

I think your daughter should also complain to the bus company - that driver needs to be reprimanded.

Dave said...

Hi Maggie, We have had the same experience; our son was published too (a few years ago now) and we bought the book - like you do. There were a couple of other poems from his class mates/year but not lots. We felt like you did but we are glad that we bought it and yes I think the publishers are using the parents(emotional blackmail really) . . . .

Nora said...

It was obviously something of a scam, Maggie and the school shouldn't have participated in it. It's just an easy way to make money for that publishing company.

The bus driver is a common thief and ought to be reported to the proper authorities.Imagine, taking money from a child.

XOX

rosaria said...

Oh this is not new stuff. I have seen these poetry mills, send your story mills, and they will publish your work for the price of a book. Somebody is always trying to get you to part with your money.

mrsnesbitt said...

Absolutely disgusting!!!!! As a teacher I was always very aware of the scams from people like this - gutter fodder!