In the beginning of 2013, I signed up fo...

Asked by IShields on 12-06-2014 15:40:20
Question posted in the Consumer Protection Law category relating to Gauteng
Question value: R 0.00

In the beginning of 2013, I signed up for a NQF level 6 (Certified Financial Accountant) course at Academy of York (a distance education college)
This is a distance education, part-time course. According to their website I had 36 months to complete the course.
The course fees were R16 000, and the only other fees I would have had to pay, was to ICB to register and write assessments. This would be an annual amount for registration and about R600 per module for the assessment. I was completely aware of this cost, and knew I had to plan for these expenses when I want to write assessments.
As I communicated with the staff of Academy of York during the registration process, I made it clear that I am going to do this course over a period of a few years, and I confirmed with them that I did have 36 months to complete the qualification.
The course was then paid for in full.
After payment of the course fees, I waited a few weeks for my study material. When my study material was ready, I collected it from their office in Randburg myself. They supplied me with all of my material, apart from a few modules, which they then delivered to me when it arrived.
I had some financial and work-related problems in 2013, and only managed to write one assessment for 1 out of 12 modules. I wanted to catch up on assessments in 2014. As I was about to complete my registration forms with the ICB for 2014, I spent some time reading all the information on their website. I then saw that the study material could change on an annual basis, probably due to new tax laws and rates, etc.
I then phone Academy of York in January 2014, to hear if any of my remaining 11 modules of changed, and if so, what is the process of them sending the new material to me. The lady I spoke to, said they were not sure of all the changes, and she would have to get back to me.
I phoned back a few times in January and February, still not getting answers. I got impatient with them and also asked the lady (I think her name was Michelle), if the maximum time period to complete the course was 36 months. She then answered me that since I was studying part-time she was sure that I could take a bit longer to complete, without there being any problems.
I then decided I would postpone my planned assessments until the next assessment period, and hopefully they will have answers for me by then.
So at the end of May, I phoned Academy of York to follow up on whether any of the modules have changed and which ones. I couldn't register for assessments without knowing this, as I then took a chance of writing assessments based on outdated knowledge.
This time, a lady named Kirosha assisted me with my query. She, at least, put some effort in to get me answers. She contacted the ICB, and then gave me the feedback that my 2nd module I could go ahead and write the assessment, as there weren't any changes, but the rest of my modules (10 in total) I would have to get new material. I then asked her how and when will they be sending this to me. She then explained that I would have to pay R750 per module for the new books.
When I asked why, she said that it is my responsibility to pay for new material, not theirs. I told her that this is unacceptable, as this information wasn't given to me at all when I registered for the course in 2013. She then asked why I took all the books in 2013 if I wan't planning on finishing in one year.
I explained that I didn't ask for all the books and I didn't know how it all worked. They (Academy of York) automatically gave me all the books without even consulting with me or advising me that the material might change and I would then need to cover the cost of the new books. I did explain to them numerous times during the registration process that I am studying part-time and would be doing the course over a period of a few years.
She told me she understands my point of view and would speak to her financial manager regarding this issue and see what they can arrange. She then wanted to know if I would be happy if they reduced the costs of the books. I said no, since it was not my mistake that I received all the study material at once, I should not be the one to cover the cost of replacement material due to changes made by ICB.
I feel it was Academy of York's responsibility to ask which modules I plan on completing in 2013 and then advise me to only take those, since the material will most probably change the following year.
If I then insisted on taking everything at once, it would have been my responsibility to cover the cost of the material, but they should then also have informed me that there will be a cost involved.
They asked no questions, gave no information and no advice regarding this. They made a mistake, and now expect me to pay for it.
Paying R750 for 10 modules adds up to R7 500 - almost half of the entire course fee which I will now have to pay additionally! I really think this is unacceptable.
Kirosha did say that she would speak with her financial manager and get back to me the next day. This was 27 May 2014.
I got no further feedback. On 11 June 2014 I phoned her to follow up. She wasn't available so I left a message.
On 12 June 2014 I phoned her again. This time she took my call. I had to remind her about the dispute and that I was still awaiting feedback. She was under the impressions she has told me everything I wanted to know. After reminding her again of what the dispute was about and she would have discussed it with her financial manager and came back to me with a solution.
She then asked me to hold while she speak to her manager. After a minute or two she came back to me saying that they would have to discuss the matter with their superior. She would get back to me after 10 minutes. Almost an hour later, she phoned me back, saying that they have spoken to their superior, but she will have to get back to me tomorrow (13 June) with his answer. She then said their superior agrees that R750 is a lot of money to pay for each module, so they are thinking of reducing the price.
I explained to her once again that it is no acceptable to expect me to pay anything for those books, as they are at fault and should carry the cost of their mistake.
I am seeking advice now before they contact me tomorrow to make sure that I am within my rights to expect the study material that I paid for.
If they cannot provide me with such, I feel they should give me a refund for the course that I paid for in full, so I can register for this qualification at another provider.

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