Training company accused of ‘misleading and unconscionable conduct’

by L&D13 Sep 2016
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking the training company Get Qualified Australia (GQA) to court over alleged “misleading and unconscionable conduct”.
 
The ACCC has also brought proceedings against GQA’s sole director, Adam Wadi, alleging he was “knowingly concerned in Get Qualified’s contraventions”. 
 
GQA are a Skills Recognition & Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) specialist who offers more than 400 nationally recognised qualifications across 29 different industries.

ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said the competition regulator alleges that GQA “targeted vulnerable consumers with conduct that was clearly unfair and unreasonable, including providing them with false or misleading information about eligibility and refusing refunds”.

“The ACCC alleges that since 1 January 2015, more than half of consumers that have been signed up and charged fees ranging from $700 to $8,500 have not obtained the qualification they were seeking,” said Sims. 

“Consumers must be provided with accurate and all relevant information in order to make an informed decision about their education. This is a recurring theme that the ACCC is determined to tackle.”

In a written statement provided to L&D Professional, GQA CEO Adam Wadi was quoted as saying:
 
"Get Qualified Australia strongly disputes the decision to move forward with this case. We will defend the allegations, as we are of the view that they are without merit and not justified.
 
“To date we have co-operated fully with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to provide all the documentation required and put right any issues raised. However, the regulator seems intent on progressing this case on what, in most instances, is flimsy and unsubstantiated evidence.
 
“We remain committed in our drive to exonerate the company."

The ACCC alleges that from around 1 January 2015 to date, GQA engaged in misleading and unconscionable conduct by:
  • assuring consumers they were eligible for qualifications when, in fact, the sales representatives were call centre staff who were not qualified to assess consumers’ eligibility for qualifications and were required to meet sales targets as part of their role.
  • telling consumers that they would be entitled to a “100% money back guarantee” if they were unsuccessful in obtaining the qualification through the RPL process when GQA almost always declined customer refund requests in circumstances where customers did not receive their qualification.
  • using unfair sales tactics to pressure consumers, such as claiming there were limited places in courses when this was unknown to GQA.
  • insisting upon up-front payment, either in full or under a payment plan, and only providing important information about the qualification requirements and GQA’s terms and conditions after payment was made.
  • after payment was made, failing to provide the service promised, refusing refund requests, and taking debt recovery action against consumers who did not receive a qualification and refused to make further payments to GQA.

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