ROCKFORD (WREX) — A day after the Better Business Bureau warned consumers to use caution when doing business with Joel Box Evolution Basketball, the Rockford chapter is following suit.
“BBB Rockford is issuing a warning today and advising consumers to use caution when doing business with Joel Box Evolution Basketball,” says Dennis Horton, the director of the Rockford regional office.
Joel Box Evolution Basketball is a youth basketball training and select traveling team program based in Quincy, Illinois. The BBB says consumers have alleged the company failed to honor agreements to hold camps and coach select teams, failed to issue refunds, and provided overall poor customer service.
“My son used money from his savings account to pay to be on the team,” one woman told the BBB. “He’s duping kids.”
Joel Box, a Rockford native and former high school basketball star at Christian Life, recently filed bankruptcy, identifying some of the consumers who paid for the programs as creditors.
13 WREX spoke with Box over the phone Wednesday and he tells us the accusations against him and his camps are not fair and are the result of a number of extenuating circumstances.
“Parents have been complaining about a lot of this stuff that is absolutely false,” Box said.
Box said he was recently arrested for something he “did not do.” While specific details surrounding that arrest are unclear, Box tells us the case ended up being dropped. But he said the community’s reaction to his arrest hurt his ability to perform the camps and training he promised.
“There were people in Quincy spreading rumors [about the arrest] that weren’t true,” Box said. “None of those accusations were true.”
Box says he sat down with the parents and players, meeting with them individually or in a group, telling them that the accusations they were hearing weren’t true. But during that time, Box says he had a number of coaches who he had recruited to help run these summer teams back out.
“It left me in a situation where these parents had paid for summer stuff and coaches pulled out and so it kind of left me with my back against the wall.”
Box does admit while this situation was ongoing he did take a leave of absence to deal with a medical issue and “clear his head” of all that was going on.
“During this time a lot of parents were upset that I was taking this leave of absence, but I have no way, shape or form ever stopped my communication with them,” Box said. “I know that people are trying to say, ‘hey I paid for these workouts’ or ‘you took things and ran.’ That’s not the case at all.”
Box did address why refunds were not given to a number of parents, even though they felt as though they did not receive what was promised to them.
“There is a no refund policy once I start workouts–which I had,” Box said.
He went onto say that he did feel like he did owe some people refunds because they signed up a different way and likely were not aware of the no refund policy listed on his website.
“Obviously when you are dealing with quite a bit of kids and you get 40 or 50 people at one time asking for a refund that can be a large amount of money.”
Box said he learned about the BBB warning on Wednesday but says he’s not as worried about responding to them as he is the parents that he is involved with.
When asked if he believes he owes these parents or kids who believe they have been slighted in what they paid for, Box says yes, but not in the form of a refund.
“This is what I do for a living, so obviously I have bills and things I have to pay for too. I never planned for anything like this to happen,” Box said. “I have every intention of coming back down there to run my academies for the people who have signed up,” Box said.
The basketball camps are scheduled in Rockford for July 9 and August 14.
Meanwhile, the business has an “F” rating with the BBB, which is the lowest on the BBB’s scale.