Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free

College complaint accepted, "bait and switch" committed. Any advice? Seek Legal help? Watch

Announcements
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    Hello, I have been through a bit of a rollercoaster ride this past year regarding my college course. I will try to boil this down and let the salient info come out if needed (really convoluted stuff that went on) is there any advice or places people can direct me? I am having trouble on my own working out what to do...

    I made a complaint six months into the course (level 3 science Access to HE diploma) after months of incompetence and discrimination. I was not provided the service for which other students had received. I am a disabled student and have extensive evidence of all of these happenings, such as a failure to set up my exam arrangements, complete lack of tuition/work despite asking multiple times. (can provide more info if needed.) Speaking to me unacceptably and straight up lying to me, affecting my marks and results.

    Six more months passed, I was contacted at the start of the month (July) where they confirmed that these problems had been addressed and they agreed that the service (or lack of service) was unacceptable and would like to make an offer as full and final settlement. They offered for me to complete the course and continue to university (as was my plan) and a refund of my course costs.

    Now, I had assumed that this refund was paid to the SFE (student loans company) and this would have steered me away from accepting this offer and push for further action (because some of the things they admitted to were deliberately "down-played" and I have evidence to prove that they were wrong) once I had looked into my rights to do so.

    However, I was sent another email asking for my bank details and saying it would be paid to me and not the student loan company, this was a great surprise as I have a few things that would have been very helpful towards such as some much needed dental work etc. I accepted as I was under the impression that I would receive this refund, I passed my bank details on and was informed that I would be paid at the end of the next week coming up.

    On Friday, I received an email stating that the refund is being set up to pay back to the SFE (like the offer which I would have most likely refused) and I sent off emails to state that this has been misleading and would therefore need to reconsider the full and final settlement offer. I had not expected to receive this refund, and it was for sure not what I was pushing for when I complained (I was just sick of the treatment and entailing medical issues resulting from these happenings and wanted to take people to task for treating me like an invalid and for jeopardising my future at uni.)

    Does anyone know what I can do about this? I have sent emails refuting what has happened as misleading and would need to reconsider, and I am worried that they will just refund the amount back to SFE despite me making clear how this has been very clearly "tricky".

    My views on this refund is that I have spent months in deep depression and isolation because of these events, my health taking a downturn for every week I spent without work and help for which I would be paying for. A refund for my course costs to the SFE is not exactly a supreme victory as I will be leaving uni in four/five years with over £50,000 worth of debt, a drop in the bucket compared to a few grand, and I am still dealing with the knock-on effects of this terrible course!

    Is there any advice anyone can offer? Does the college have the legal right to "bait and switch" me like this? I am worried that they will just continue to refund the amount to SFE despite my intention to refuse this offer. Conversely, do I have any legal recourse?

    Thank you if anyone can help, R
    • Community Assistant
    Offline

    20
    ReputationRep:
    That depends on the wording of their emails. If they explicitly stated "we will pay you directly these costs into your bank account and not to SFE" then that leaves little ambiguity and there's probably some recourse for you to pursue the issue further. If they just asked you for your bank details, but didn't specifically say they were going to pay you directly, personally, and/or not refund to SFE, then it's less likely.

    You would probably be best off consulting a solicitor on the matter - see if they have a no win, no fee arrangement (and confirm exactly what the costs would be after, as if it's more than, or substantially close to, the amount you would be receiving it may not be worth arguing the point). I wouldn't recommend discussing what you planned to spend the refund on however, as it's not strictly speaking relevant to the issue and may work against you if it does continue further, if an arbitrator or magistrate or whatever felt for some reason it didn't account to a reasonable need to be refunded in that way (as opposed to via SFE).

    It's a pretty unfortunate situation either way however
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by artful_lounger)
    That depends on the wording of their emails. If they explicitly stated "we will pay you directly these costs into your bank account and not to SFE" then that leaves little ambiguity and there's probably some recourse for you to pursue the issue further. If they just asked you for your bank details, but didn't specifically say they were going to pay you directly, personally, and/or not refund to SFE, then it's less likely.

    You would probably be best off consulting a solicitor on the matter - see if they have a no win, no fee arrangement (and confirm exactly what the costs would be after, as if it's more than, or substantially close to, the amount you would be receiving it may not be worth arguing the point). I wouldn't recommend discussing what you planned to spend the refund on however, as it's not strictly speaking relevant to the issue and may work against you if it does continue further, if an arbitrator or magistrate or whatever felt for some reason it didn't account to a reasonable need to be refunded in that way (as opposed to via SFE).

    It's a pretty unfortunate situation either way however
    Hey! Thanks for your response

    I know, this response, as well as the entire course has been plagued by misleading and (possibly deliberate) vagueness. Upon reviewing the response email and subsequent contact, it was made clear that the amount would be paid to myself, as they stated in the email for my bank details that they would transfer the money to me.

    I have a legal aid session later on today to explore my options, and luckily I have recorded contact today with the college who have explicitly stated they intended to pay it directly to me, so fortunately the college cannot backtrack now. They have said that they will be in contact on Wednesday to confirm if the offer can continue or if they need to make amendments to the response... but considering that they have already admitted to discrimination arising from disability and a clear failure of the duty to make reasonable adjustments (I have multitudinous pieces of evidence) then I think I have got them. I have informed them as such that according to my research, payouts for discrimination (of which I have strong evidence of) far outstrip the amount they are now offering me.

    Hopefully that will convince them! Thanks for you advice!
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    04MR17


    (sorry, thread was closed, made two in a panic for responses, I'm not used to this sort of serious happenings! haha)

    [[[[[[[[[Hello.

    I always find it best to split these essays up, when things get complex.

    (Original post by SonoLuma)
    I made a complaint six months into the course (level 3 science Access to HE diploma) after months of incompetence and discrimination. I was not provided the service for which other students had received. I am a disabled student and have extensive evidence of all of these happenings, such as a failure to set up my exam arrangements, complete lack of tuition/work despite asking multiple times. (can provide more info if needed.) Speaking to me unacceptably and straight up lying to me, affecting my marks and results.…see more
    Did you complaint identify all these specifically or was it more general?

    What should you arrangements have been with regards to:
    - exams
    - tuition/work
    - anything else?
    (Original post by SonoLuma)
    Six more months passed, I was contacted at the start of the month (July) where they confirmed that these problems had been addressed and they agreed that the service (or lack of service) was unacceptable and would like to make an offer as full and final settlement. They offered for me to complete the course and continue to university (as was my plan) and a refund of my course costs.…see more
    Ignoring the bit below about where the money goes and taking you out of the equation, do you feel that that was a adequate response of the college accepting their failings and compensating sufficiently for that? Yes/no and explanation if possible please.

    (Original post by SonoLuma)
    Now, I had assumed that this refund was paid to the SFE (student loans company) and this would have steered me away from accepting this offer and push for further action (because some of the things they admitted to were deliberately "down-played" and I have evidence to prove that they were wrong) once I had looked into my rights to do so. However, I was sent another email asking for my bank details and saying it would be paid to me and not the student loan company, this was a great surprise as I have a few things that would have been very helpful towards such as some much needed dental work etc. I accepted as I was under the impression that I would receive this refund, I passed my bank details on and was informed that I would be paid at the end of the next week coming up.see less
    Ok, here's where I see things getting a bit sketchy.

    1. I assume by wrong, you mean that they did not appreciate the extent of their failures rather than some more concrete incorrection or missing something?

    2. Why were you under that impression? Did they tell you specifically? If they didn't, did you ask? Because in court, that's your fault.
    (Original post by SonoLuma)
    On Friday, I received an email stating that the refund is being set up to pay back to the SFE (like the offer which I would have most likely refused) and I sent off emails to state that this has been misleading and would therefore need to reconsider the full and final settlement offer. I had not expected to receive this refund, and it was for sure not what I was pushing for when I complained (I was just sick of the treatment and entailing medical issues resulting from these happenings and wanted to take people to task for treating me like an invalid and for jeopardising my future at uni.)…see more
    Had you definitely said I accept?

    And what did you expect (going into this) that the college would do to account for their failings?
    (Original post by SonoLuma)
    Does anyone know what I can do about this? I have sent emails refuting what has happened as misleading and would need to reconsider, and I am worried that they will just refund the amount back to SFE despite me making clear how this has been very clearly "tricky".

    My views on this refund is that I have spent months in deep depression and isolation because of these events, my health taking a downturn for every week I spent without work and help for which I would be paying for.

    A refund for my course costs to the SFE is not exactly a supreme victory as I will be leaving uni in four/five years with over £50,000 worth of debt, a drop in the bucket compared to a few grand, and I am still dealing with the knock-on effects of this terrible course!

    Is there any advice anyone can offer? Does the college have the legal right to "bait and switch" me like this? I am worried that they will just continue to refund the amount to SFE despite my eventual intention to refuse this offer. Conversely, do I have any legal recourse?

    Thank you if anyone can help, R…see more
    My first piece of advice is that your college should have pastoral support in place.

    You should have a designated disability support point of contact who you can talk to about these issues. Although it sounds to me like these are the people you have complained about.

    If so, there should still be a more general pastoral support point of contact for you to use in that scenario. If these are also involved in your complaint, then I would suggest getting the Student Union to fight your corner. Though it may be too late for that now.

    If it comes down to where the money goes, then I fear that this is simply a case of the decisions you made based on the hard evidence that you had available. Not the impression you got, not what was indicated, but the small print. And if they can prove that you had been supplied with the information of how that refund would be put in place, or had the opportunity to find out (i.e. by asking) then you were in control of your own awareness regarding how that refund would be put in place.

    I should also point out that there are a lot of ifs in that last paragraph.]]]]]]]]]]]]]


    Thank you for your comprehensive response, I will do my best to clarify the details! I will number the responses. "1" for the first quote "2" for the second and so on...

    1.Yes the college, in their response admitted that the arrangements were not met because of staff, the staff acted in a way which required them to "be reminded that professionalism is important especially during exams", the staff did not provide me with work/course work in a timely and fair manner, as well as other things they had admitted to being liable for, such as the additional learner support not informing me they cant help me, despite having evidence that they had not told me this in the months of me asking for help. All of these points have been admitted by the college, but I also have phone calls, video and audio evidence of almost all of the happenings. (I am so glad that I did, that's what you do when you are used te being treated a certain way by certain individuals!)

    2.For the adequate response of the college. No, I did not feel it was adequate, as the response admitted to discrimination of multiple counts, while also downplaying the effect of those acts of discrimination. For a couple of the more serious points, the gravity of some of the discrimination had been downplayed to such an extent that I could (with my evidence) have proven them to have been lying, probably by omission. For me, having some of my student loan paid off does/did nothing to alleviate the months of sleepless nights and health concerns I experienced during this course. This is not to say that the college response was not a substantial "breaking-down" of events, it was and they addressed almost all of the things I brought up, they just decided to both admit responsibility for the discrimination, while also downplaying it as not as harmful as it was.

    Having a direct payment to myself would allow me to make some improvements to my wellbeing (dental work, maybe a weekend holiday away before uni and a pair of doc martens my mother has wanted for years but couldnt afford them, she has supported me throughout this course and shown me that I have been discriminated against) and so I would have definitely considered taking the offer as it would save the hassle of legal proceedings.

    3.By "wrong" I mean, well... I'll try to generate an example. The college admits to support not being given any longer by a section of the learner support scheme and that the relevant people should have communicated this to me, whereas I have multiple emails asking this very fact very shortly into the course and being told different. Thereby proving that someone isn't telling the truth. Most likely the staff member being spoken to in the email.

    They did not tell me in absolute specific terms, but they did not specifically say the SFE either, by asking for my details in the same email chain, it was implicitly clear that the money was intended to go to me. Though I admit, this can be a sticking point. I will elaborate at the end of this reply how this has changed.

    4.I ensured that said I accepted under the terms of the given response, which made no clear intention of sending the money to the SFE, the wording was that the money would be "paid to you" and I accepted under those terms.

    I expected that the college would take this complaint seriously, as over the months of these events, my health took multiple downturns, until I could barely sleep or leave the house. Eventually, my counsellor and family members said that I should expect to be compensated for this treatment. I had gone from straight A's in the same college to absolute failure (mainly because I only got the work I was asking for for months.... about a month ago. I had been asking since october last year)

    I never expected this refund, but once the college had said it would be paid to me, I thought I could finally end this terrible situation and maybe start to see life as the experience it should be, not dreading to wake up every morning. Maybe have a break from the stress before beginning my next stress of university!

    5. I agree, both forms of pastoral support were involved and also kind of put their foot in it, as I had made it unavoidable that both had failed in what had been promised (and what has been provided to hundreds of other students, despite the fact that most of the support in place was *offered* to me in the first place!) and both had been found to have "dropped numerous balls" regardless of how they made it appear.


    Thank you for your advice, I have spoke to the college complaints team today who has basically agreed with me and been very supportive. They (again recording the phone calls!) admitted that they intended to pay this to myself and not the SFE, but because of the confusion between departments, they will have to speak to the relevant people and get back to me regarding the payment.

    So, luckily they are not "bait and switching" me (I wouldn't have let them without a fight!) I had thought that because of the absolute lack of service from the college, they could just admit culpability and refund the course costs of which most were not technically "used" in the first place! Thereby sort of avoiding a costly action from someone who had diligently recorded filmed and documented everything, leaving no room for lies.

    It still is not over, but I can come back to this thread to update on how it goes. Really appreciate your advice, I hope this response made sense
 
 
 
Reply
Submit reply
TSR Support Team

We have a brilliant team of more than 60 Support Team members looking after discussions on The Student Room, helping to make it a fun, safe and useful place to hang out.

Updated: July 24, 2017
  • See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  • Poll
    Break up or unrequited love?
    Useful resources
    Bizarre things students have spent their loans onThings you should budget for at uni

    Sponsored features:

    Making money from your own website

    Need some cash?

    How to make money running your own website.

    Bianca Miller, runner-up on The Apprentice

    Handle your digital footprint

    What would an employer find out about you on Google? Find out how to take control.

    Groups associated with this forum:

    View associated groups
  • See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  • The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

    Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

    Quick reply
    Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.