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‘We trusted her’: Collingwood business owner loses $30K

Local business owners say they gave money to a friend who promised discounted airline tickets, but didn't get the tickets or their money back even after a lawsuit
Jenny Mai, right, and her husband Anthony Le own Gold Nails in Collingwood.

COLLINGWOOD — When Collingwood couple and business owners Jenny Mai and her now-husband Anthony Le were planning their wedding overseas in Vietnam in 2020, a kind offer by their client and friend to help them get discounted airline tickets seemed like a dream come true.

The situation, however, was more like a nightmare with Mai paying nearly $30,000 but not getting any plane tickets for the money. 

Mai sued her former client, Alison Glussich, and won the lawsuit, but hasn't received her money back. 

In January 2023, a judge ruled in Mai’s favour, ordering Glussich pay Mai $28,801.40.

“On hearing the evidence of the plaintiff, I am satisfied she has paid substantial sums to the defendant which were intended to be used for the purchase of airline tickets by the defendant for the plaintiff and her family,” Deputy Judge Judith Turner wrote in her decision. “I am satisfied that the defendant never provided any proof that the tickets were actually purchased.”

At an examination hearing in June 2023, Glussich did not show up for court and that matter was referred to a contempt hearing. At an examination hearing scheduled in November 2023, again Glussich did not show up.

Mai and Le both immigrated to Canada from Vietnam 15 years ago and 13 years ago respectively, but met in Canada in Fort McMurray, Alta. The couple left Fort McMurray to come to Collingwood, taking over ownership of Gold Nails on First Street in 2017 with plans to start their life here together.

In 2020, they had planned on getting married, but it was important for them to return to Vietnam for the ceremony so they could celebrate their union with their family and friends back home.

Mai told Glussich, a long-time client, about their plans late in 2019 while doing her nails one afternoon. Mai said her client offered to help get tickets.

“She said her husband was a pilot for Air Canada and she used to be a flight attendant,” said Mai. “She said she could help us book a ticket and we would get a deal.”

Mai says some other customers wanted to go on the trip at the same time, as well as some of the couple’s friends. All in all, they were looking to purchase 10 return airline tickets.

“We trusted her because her husband is a pilot. She would know better than everyone else,” said Mai.

The group had planned to travel in April 2020. However, the pandemic hit one month earlier, which grounded most travel.

“We asked if we had to cancel our ticket and re-book. She said she could keep the tickets for us and we could re-book once COVID was over. We said OK,” said Mai.

Mai and Le had their first child in March 2021. They rescheduled their trip for April 2022.

“She re-booked our ticket for that. Some of my friends couldn’t make it anymore because it had been too long,” said Mai, noting her friends reached out to Glussich for a refund at that time.

“She told me then that it was a deal, so she couldn’t give a refund at that moment. I asked if I paid for the tickets if I could use them later on, and she said yes,” she added. “So I did that.”

Around that time, Mai says Glussich reached out, asking if Mai could lend her $7,000 because her dog needed a surgery.

“She told me she had a property in The Town of The Blue Mountains for sale, and once the buyer sent her the money, she could give it back to me,” said Mai. “I told her she had to give it back to me before I went to Vietnam, because it was my wedding money.”

Mai says she never saw that money.

“She told me her dad passed away and she needed the money for his funeral,” said Mai.

In the lawsuit, Deputy Judge Turner also noted in her decision she was satisfied the $7,000 given by Mai to Glussich for her dog’s medical issue was requested by Glussich and was not paid back.

On the day Mai, Le and their baby were set to fly to Vietnam in April 2022, when they arrived at the airport they discovered there were no tickets booked in their names.

“I had to drive home and book my ticket myself to fly the next day,” she said. “She told me if I sent her more money she could re-book it for me, but I’d have to wait for a refund from the airline.

“At that moment, I didn’t trust her anymore.”

Mai and Le managed to get to Vietnam to get married in April 2022, with her family members back home offering up the money to pay for the wedding. However, with money tight at that point, Mai and Le had to make the difficult decision to leave their one-year-old baby with Mai’s parents in Vietnam, as they were unable to afford daycare for her upon their return to Canada.

Mai filed a small claims lawsuit against Glussich after returning from Vietnam.

Text messages between Mai and Glussich obtained by CollingwoodToday show Glussich offered to pay the money back, begging Mai to not follow through with a lawsuit.

“She always had a reason why she couldn’t pay me,” said Mai.

Mai and Le were reunited with their first child this past year, and had their second child this past August.

It’s been a year since the initial court ruling, and Mai says she has not received a penny back to date from Glussich.

This year, Mai says she will be pursuing the matter further in court, applying to have Glussich’s wages garnished through a further examination hearing. However, Mai says she will have to find out where Glussich currently works in order for that to be an option.

She says she feels lucky that her family chipped in so the situation hasn’t put her into significant financial turmoil, but feels there needs to be some repercussions for what happened to her family.

The emotional scars of the situation remain, she said.

“She was a customer for a long time. She was a friend. When your friends are having a hard time, you help them out,” said Mai, her voice breaking with emotion. “I feel like I was blind to not see it before. Dealing with this has been really stressful.

“I cry everyday.”

Mai’s takeaway from the situation is to not lend money to anyone – even friends – unless you can afford to not see that money again.

“We won the case, but that hasn’t meant we got our money back,” she said. “(The court) helped, but it wasn’t that much, because I didn’t get my money back and she wasn’t punished.

“If she can get away with this, anyone can get away with this,” Mai added.

CollingwoodToday reached out to Glussich for comment for this story. Glussich referred CollingwoodToday to her lawyer, Mitchell Worsoff. In response to questions, Worsoff said he was unavailable to provide comment by deadline.


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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen is an experienced journalist working for Village Media since 2018, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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