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VIC Open Colleges - Have I Been Scammed?

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by Straf, 12 July 2015.

  1. Straf

    Straf Member

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    I enquired to do a online Course with this training organisation, Open Colleges, and the salesman was very smooth and pushy to get me signed up. I was quoted an overall price of $4400 to do the course, which is 12 units in length. I mentioned that I had already completed 6 units of this course with another training company a few years back. He asked to see the letter of attainment which I provided. He reviewed my document and said I should get all 6 units off. I asked how much will my course be and he said roughly $370 would be deducted per unit I received a credit transfer for. He said it was a simple process where I sign up, I then apply for the credit transfer and send in.

    So stupidly I signed up over the phone and he got me to click a link which agreed to all the T&C's.
    I agreed for $243 dollars to be deducted from my credit card over 18 months starting on the 23/07/2015. He said we will start the DD then so all the paperwork for the units I have done will be deducted and $$ amount will be reduced accordingly I paid a deposit and signed to this on the 20/05/2015.

    I started filling out the Request for prior learning forms and Credit transfer forms which was by no means an easy process. I applied for a Credit transfer of 6 units and a Request for prior learning of 1 Unit and sent all documents through to them on the 27/05/2015. On these forms it states that I should get an answer within 10 days.

    In the mean time they provided me all the course material, my login details and the first couple of units to start studying. However I didn't start because I had done these units already.
    - Over the next few weeks I rang this training organisation constantly asking where the Credit transfer application is up to, each time I was told it should be there by the end of the week.
    - 41 days later on the 09/07/2015 I received the outcome which was that they have waived 1 unit of the credit transfer and 1 unit of request for prior learning for a grand total reduction of $93.00. I totally disagree with this assessment!

    I would like to....
    1. cancel this course as I believe I was given very misleading information at the start and I don't see the need to complete units that I have already completed. However the cooling off period and my ability to cancel as stated in the T&C's is 7 days from the date I paid the deposit. (20/05/2015)
    2 . Or at the very least transfer to another course which is cheaper. However in the T&C's it states that if you transfer to another course you still have to pay the greater value!

    My questions are?
    Is an electronic signature ie. click a button on web link considered a legal binding agreement?
    Do I have any legal grounds to break this contract or have I been totally scammed?
     
    Wombat72 likes this.
  2. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Hi Straf,

    Yes, courts have held that clicking "agree" on T&C's amount to signing and will be taken as acknowledging your consent.

    Most likely you have an action in misrepresentation. Is Open Colleges an Australian company? Or do they have an Australian branch? Try contacting Consumer Affairs Victoria to see if they can help you cancel your course or review the decision. If the company made representations on the phone, they may have a recording of these representations which CAV may be able to help get. CAV is a free service aimed to help individual consumers of goods or services in their disputes with businesses in Australia.
     
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  3. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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  4. DennisD

    DennisD Well-Known Member

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    Hi there


    I second Sarah J's comments, especially so if you would not have entered the contract but for those representations as to more credit and lower fees


    You say the salesman was ''smooth'', was it along the lines of:

    - ''[the extra credit] should be fine, we process these all the time, no promises though, but I think it all should be a-ok'', or:

    - ''yes no doubt, we will process it for you, it's simply an administrative process that you pay first''


    The second example is much more the kind of representation that you would be justified in relying on.


    Let us know how it goes.
     
  5. Straf

    Straf Member

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    Thanks both for your responses. Yes and Open Colleges is an australian company and since reading up about them on other forums, people have had numerous problems with them.
    I wish I had seen these forums first! However I am trying to negotiate a resolution directly with them by changing courses but now I have to fill out another form and supposedly fork out more money for a transfer fee etc.etc... This is just drawing out this whole process. Will see how this goes otherwise I will contact consumer affairs victoria as suggested.

    Hugh while I don't recall the sales person promising anything about the credit, he indicated that it would be fine and his exact words were "...you should get all the 6 units off". He also said that I will get roughly $350 per unit discount for each unit that I receive a credit for.

    Facts are ...
    - I applied for 6 units of Credit and 1 unit based on prior learning. So 7 units all up.
    - They took 41 days to process this request. I was told verbally and on the forms it says it will be completed within 10 days!
    - I was ringing them constantly chasing up my request. Each time they said that they have a backlog and it would be done by a certain day. These cut off days came and went with no update.
    (I have since now found out that the course went through a complete update in June... this opens up another whole bunch of questions I have. ie. Were they deliberately stalling to reduce my Credits? Why wasn't I told this in May?)
    I finally received an outcome of 1 - Unit off for credit (not the other 5 which i was told that I "should get off") and 1 other unit off that I applied for RPL. For a grand total credit amount of $93 (not the $700 that I was expecting for two units of credit).

    So as you can see there are a number of layers to this issue that I have with them.

    It doesn't appear I have any legal grounds to escape so I am just hoping I can negotiate an alternative arrangement with them.

    Straf
     
  6. DennisD

    DennisD Well-Known Member

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    Hi again

    Yes this sounds like a sensible approach. In the course of negotiating an outcome, you can remind them generally without delving into detail that the ACCC is pretty strict when it comes to correct pricing information which should be clear and accurate, and not toyed around with by some ''smooth'' salesperson.
     
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  7. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Hi Straf,

    If the company is getting you to fork out for money for transfer fees, it might be worth asking for a refund or review. Otherwise, ask them to waive the transfer fees given the representations they made to you on the phone. If they disagree, contact the CAV (or even, contact them earlier). What they are doing does not sound right and you should not have to pay out more money to fix it.
     
    DennisD likes this.
  8. AnnaLJ

    AnnaLJ Well-Known Member

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    Hi Straf

    I believe A Current Affair actually did a story on Open Colleges recently and exposed them as defrauding students. So you may want to do some research and see what the outcome was there.

    Also, I agree with the comments above that a digital signature is legally binding.

    Best of luck,

    Anna
     
    Wombat72 likes this.
  9. JoeSavage

    JoeSavage Member

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    I only wish that I had uncovered all these posts before my experience with them. This experience seems to be mirrored over and over again by many students and other issues....

    I had an experience with them that would beggar belief.

    Best of luck with your issue with them, I sincerely hope that others review these and other sites before making any decision to do a course with them.


     

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