Musical staff

Not in tune as the training institute faces the music of staff, parents of students

Ti Gong

An offline campus of Xiaoyinka, a music training company, in Shanghai.

Xiaoyinka, or Little Musician, a music training company, faces music, with employees and teachers complaining of not being paid for nearly four months and parents of students demanding refunds due to incapacity to keep its promises of service.

The company, owned by Shanghai Yiqilai Culture Communication Co, was popular for providing one-on-one training for children aged 4 to 12 on musical instruments such as piano, violin and Guzheng (Chinese zither).

Unlike traditional training organizations, where parents send their children to class, students at Xiaoyinka can take lessons in its classrooms or in teachers’ studios or homes, or invite teachers to come and teach at home.

Tuition fees are paid to the company, with teachers being paid based on the number of classes they take in a month.

Gu Liqin, mother of a 10-year-old girl, said she heard about the primary school after she handed out a questionnaire in May last year about parents’ interest in their children learn a musical instrument.

“I said ‘Yes’ and a salesman from Xiaoyinka called me and arranged a demonstration class for my daughter in August,” Gu recalls.

She tried vocal music and Guzheng and opted for the latter. Gu paid 50,600 yuan ($7,545) for 180 classes and 70 additional free sessions. But only about 40 classes have taken place so far.

“I decided to pay so much because it came to us through the school and the company said it was funded by a state-owned company under the Shanghai Youth League,” Gu explained. “And also, I thought it would push my daughter to keep learning. She had tried to learn piano and guitar earlier, but gave up immediately after completing short courses.”

Gu had another reason for choosing Xiaoyinka. She found a teacher who lived in their community and whom her daughter liked.

In addition, at the end of last year, Xiaoyinka said that she signed an agreement with the Bank of Shanghai to set up a special account for the supervision of student tuition fees, which made her more confident in the government. company.

Not in tune as the training institute faces the music of staff, parents of students

Ti Gong

Xiaoyinka put up a poster of her agreement with Bank of Shanghai on supervising funds at her outlet.

“Everything was perfect at first, and even after the company had to suspend offline classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the teacher continued to teach online,” Gu said.

“But in April the teacher told me she had to stop teaching because the company hadn’t paid her for two months.”

She contacted the salesperson and assistant who had helped organize the lessons, and was told that the teachers were not being paid because the finance staff could not return to the office due to the confinement.

“I trusted them because of the situation in the whole city at the time and I personally paid the teacher so that the lessons could continue for my daughter. She will take a marking test this summer,” said revealed Gu.

But later, with the seller and the assistant being out of touch, Gu joined some WeChat groups of parents with similar issues.

She noted that some of the parents had requested a refund but to no avail while others had checked with the Bank of Shanghai and found that the account announced earlier had not yet been created.

“We are concerned and some have filed complaints with various government platforms, including the city’s 12345 hotline,” Gu said. “Some parents have reported the case to the police and I will go too. I really don’t know how else to solve the problem.”

Qiao Xue, a class assistant at Xiaoyinka, said the company has about 50,000 students in Shanghai and is busy responding to parents’ inquiries and responding to their accusations and denunciations.

“Some of them paid 20,000 yuan, some 100,000 yuan, and most paid about 50,000 yuan. But I can’t do anything for them,” she insisted. “I haven’t been paid for three months. My supervisor let us know that the company would lay off most of the employees and only retain 30 teachers and asked us to look for new jobs.

“It’s impossible for me because I’m five months pregnant. The company has also stopped paying my social security contributions, so I’m afraid I’ll be able to collect childbirth allowance after giving birth.”

On June 10, the company launched two helplines for teachers and parents, but many said their calls went unanswered.

Li Ai, founder of Xiaoyinka, issued an open letter to all teachers and parents on Monday, acknowledging that the company was facing cash flow difficulties, but promised it would not give up.

Stating that the company is actively seeking new financial backers to continue its operations, she revealed that a detailed “rescue plan” will be published on Friday, calling on teachers to teach classes on a “reduced salary” while the rest and those previously due will be paid progressively in the future.

But his explanation failed to assuage the worries of parents and employees, especially when they found out that Xiaoyinka’s Guangzhou branch announced the suspension of operations on the same day.

Not in tune as the training institute faces the music of staff, parents of students

Ti Gong

A screenshot from the WeChat group shows a message that the company would lay off most of its employees.

Yuki Li, a Guzheng teacher under contract with the company, said she messaged a company administrator via WeChat asking him to join the plan and continue teaching his students, but got no response.

The teacher mentioned that she received an invitation from Xiaoyinka to use her platform about three years ago.

“I have a studio to teach children to play Guzheng but I found it difficult to recruit students on my own, so I agreed to subscribe to the company’s service,” she said. “We cooperated well but since March it has delayed my payment again and again with excuses, including the lock. And even after the lockdown was lifted, he still hasn’t paid me.”

Parents and teachers have also found that the company pays teachers more while charging parents less, raising suspicions about the company’s sustainability.

Li revealed that she usually charges more than 200 yuan for each lesson while parents apparently pay less than 200 yuan. For example, Gao Xing, the father of one, paid 25,200 yuan for 120 lessons and got 60 more for free, which means he only spent 140 yuan for each lesson.

Classroom assistant Qiao said the company has now shut down its customer relationship management system and disbanded staff WeChat groups.

“Even after our boss released the letter, many parents touched our hearts by leaving messages with encouraging messages, making me believe that we could continue,” she observed.

“But yesterday the company shut down the system and dissolved groups, as well as our WeChat accounts for work, which means we can no longer contact parents or help them verify remaining contracts and courses, or submit refund requests. I’m really at a loss now.”