Students, parents shocked by sudden closure of driving school in Coquitlam, B.C.

Bestway Driver Training had been helping drivers earn their licence since 1985. Now, some students and their families are wondering if they will be refunded for courses they paid for after the school abruptly closed.

Bestway Driver Training had been helping drivers attain their licence since 1985

Bestway Driver Training abruptly closed in Coquitlam B.C., in December 2017. People enrolled in courses are hoping to get their money back and credits transferred to other schools. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Students in Coquitlam hoping to take the fast lane to their driver's licence have hit a speed bump with the closure of a popular driving school.

Since 1985, Bestway Driver Training has been offering courses and teaching drivers, which helps them expedite their path from a learner's licence to a full one

But the school abruptly closed in December without warning, according to people already signed up for courses in the new year.

Sheldon Ridout says his daughter did 20 hours of instruction and was scheduled to starting driving classes on Jan. 3.

"And Jan. 3, standing at the window and nobody showed up," he said.

He said he wasn't able to leave a phone message for the company as its voicemail was full and emails weren't responded to.

"[We] went over there, doors were locked and no lights on," he said.

The school has since put up a sign on its front door urging students to contact ICBC to schedule alternate lessons.

Ridout says he paid $1,000 for the course with Bestway.

"Now, it's bad enough to be out the money, but now you're going to have to invest the same amount of time doing the exact same thing you just did," said Ridout

Family-run business

Pamela Turner, was a former Bestway instructor for 25 years before opening her own school.

She says it's been a tough time for the family behind the company as one of the co-owners died 18 months ago.

"When somebody is the face of it, and the face is gone, it is challenging," she said, adding that the family is devastated about having to close down.

She says, however, that families who paid for courses with their credit cards should be able to get the charges reversed.

She says driving schools in B.C. have to pay a bond to protect students in situations like this, and ICBC will have a record of who was enrolled in which classes.

Closure 'not consistent' with industry norms

ICBC, in a statement to CBC, said the closure of Bestway was a surprise.

It says it will be working with Bestway customers and confirmed it had paid a bond as all driving schools must. It says that bond money will be used to help students who prepaid for training from Bestway.

"This unexpected closure is not consistent with the driver training industry business practice, and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused customers or others impacted by the closure," the statement read.

ICBC says impacted students, including those who have completed some of their driver's training, should contact the public insurer's customer relations department.

The only information Bestway Driver Training has communicated to students about its closure is on this sign, posted to its front door at its offices in Coquitlam. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

With files from Jon Hernandez.