Sylvan Tries To Distance Itself From Learning Center That Left Sensitive Files In Trash

A Sylvan Learning Center in Beaverton, OR, put file folders with customer info -- including credit card and Social Security numbers -- in a dumpster.

A Sylvan Learning Center in Beaverton, OR, put file folders with customer info — including credit card and Social Security numbers — in a dumpster.

Yesterday we told you about the Sylvan Learning Center in Beaverton, OR, that chose to leave hundreds of file folders containing sensitive customer information in a dumpster instead of shredding them. Now, the folks at Sylvan HQ are doing damage control.

“We were appalled” reads a statement from Sylvan’s corporate office about the incident.

In the statement, the company takes every possible chance to remind people that this is an independently owned franchise and does not reflect any sort of corporate policy.

“Sylvan franchisees must maintain customer information in a secure location, or shred it, per Sylvan’s policies,” says the company. “In addition, every franchisee must comply with applicable federal, state and local laws, including those concerning privacy of customer information. We are investigating this incident and will take appropriate action.”

The company says it will assist the state authorities who are now looking into whether or not this Learning Center violated Oregon privacy laws.

“We are deeply concerned that someone we trusted appears to have put his customers’ privacy at risk,” says the Sylvan statement, once again tossing this franchise owner onto the railroad tracks. “We are confident that this is an isolated incident limited to this particular franchisee. Sylvan Learning, Inc. and our system of independent Sylvan franchisees are committed to the mission of building long-term, reliable relationships with our customers and helping every Sylvan student to achieve.”

While we understand that this franchisee’s actions are not Sylvan policy, we’re a little bit concerned by the language used to vilify a franchisee. The center may be independently owned and operated, but most consumers don’t care. People go to chains with recognizable brands because they are led to believe that there are consistent policies at each location and a level or oversight by — and accountability to — the franchisor. If a company is going to allow a businessperson to use the company name and branding, it has to fully own up when that person screws up.