Hundreds of learners at an English center in Vietnam are seeking refunds after having their courses canceled or suspended.
Students at the Dai Bang (Eagle) English Center have been unsuccessfully requesting reimbursement for several weeks after the school canceled and suspended classes at campuses in both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
Dai Bang English Center is owned by Eagle Corp Education and Training Consulting Ltd., according to Nguyen Thanh Trung, office chief at the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Education and Training.
The company applied for the establishment of its first branch in Ho Chi Minh City at 422 Cao Thang Street in Ward 12, District 10 in August 2019.
It then submitted applications to open nine more branches across the city in November that same year.
The municipal education department granted the license for all ten Dai Bang English Center facilities on November 14, 2019.
A few weeks later, Eagle Corp filed another application to the education department for permission to put the facility at 422 Cao Thang Street into operation but never received approval due to unfinished paperwork.
Despite failing to get the green light, the center began recruiting students and collecting tuition.
L.B.H., a prospective Eagle English Center student, paid VND12.66 million (US$547) for a 17-month course at the center’s Binh Thanh District location in late 2019.
Though the center promised H. he would be able to achieve an IELTS band 6.5 by the end of the course, he has not yet been allowed to set foot in a classroom.
“The center repeatedly announced school breaks for several reasons such as the Lunar New Year holiday, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the class not having enough students. I demanded a refund but they haven’t processed my request,” H. complained.
N.N.N.Th. also signed up for an IELTS course with the center, this time paying VND11 million for 14 months of lessons at the District 6 location.
Though she was able to take a few lessons with the center, she was forced to stop once it began announcing closures.
“I asked them to refund me at least VND10 million [$433] for the lessons I have not attended but haven’t heard anything back,” Th. said.
When Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper called the Dai Bang English Center hotline on August 21, a respondent said that its headquarters is in Hanoi and its facilities in Ho Chi Minh City have switched to online classes due to the pandemic.
Tuoi Tre then visited each of the center’s 14 locations in Hanoi on Tuesday but found that most were out of operation and the premises had been returned to landlords.
Only two facilities, one on Tay Son Street in Dong Da District and another on Le Thanh Nghi Street in Hai Ba Trung District, were open.
When Tuoi Tre asked to see the manager of the center on Le Thanh Nghi Street, the center refused. Attempts to reach the center’s manager and director via phone were also in vain.
Ho Chi Minh City education department office chief Trung said his agency has received complaints from people related to the English center and has contacted Eagle Corp regarding the issue.
In response, the company admitted that its English centers have been recruiting learners without permission, but rejected reports that it has launched teaching activities, according to Trung.
“We have made an appointment with the company for a working session later this week. We will ask it to clarify its collection of tuition. We’ll also give the center a deadline to refund its learners,” Trung said.