Educators must learn some harsh lessons

City consumer council has received more than 4,000 complaints about training organizations this year.

The city's consumer council had received more than 4,000 complaints about private training organizations by the end of August, 27 percent more than the same period last year. More than half were about foreign language training.

Misleading advertising, imprecise wording on contracts and poor teaching, along with payment and refund disputes, were common complaints, Shanghai Consumer Council said Wednesday.

In total, 4,174 complaints were made, involving classes costing 35 million yuan (US$5.10 million). Of these 2,140 were about foreign language schools

Art lessons, driving schools and accountancy training were also the subjects of deep customer dissatisfaction, the council said.

More than 25 percent of complaints were related to online courses.

Some institutions were found to have lied about their resources and exaggerated what customers could expect, said Tang Jiansheng, deputy secretary-general of the council.

They promised things like "top level" teaching teams or "no-pass, no-pay," but only verbally, making it difficult for consumers when disputes arose, said Tang.

Contract terms lacked details like fair refund rules and protection of personal information. Cancelled classes, shortened class time and frequent changes of teachers were common issues.

Most training institutes expect students to sign up for one or two years, some as many as four. Most require payment of all the fees before classes begin.

Some even went so far as to offer customers loans from small third-party financial institutions which they have interests in, leading to financial risk, said Tang.


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