MINISTER URGES PARENTS TO GET SMART ON TUTORING PRODUCTS

MINISTER URGES PARENTS TO GET SMART ON TUTORING PRODUCTS

Minister for Fair Trading Stuart AyresAs families enter the back-to-school phase, Fair Trading Minister Stuart Ayres and the
Australian Tutoring Association are reminding parents and students about the potential pitfalls
when signing up for tutoring products and services.
Mr Ayres said 18 complaints involving the tutoring industry were received by the agency in
2013.
“While this is not a large figure, disputes involving tutors and tutoring products can be costly,”
he said.
“In families with non-English speaking backgrounds tutoring products can be in high demand,
yet it is often non-English speaking communities that are most reluctant to lodge formal
complaints with consumer protection agencies when things go wrong.”
Mr Ayres said tutoring businesses were required under the Australian Consumer Law to
substantiate any claims they make on websites, in advertisements or verbally.
“Testimonials must be genuine and Fair Trading will issue substantiation notices to any
tutoring business believed to be using fake customer testimonials or making unrealistic
guarantees of academic success,” he said.
“Companies found to be engaged in false and misleading representation face fines of up to
$1.1 million, while individuals face fines of up to $220,000.”
Mr Ayres said consumers should also be wary of tutoring businesses selling products door-todoor.
“Such businesses are not permitted to take any payments within a 10 day cooling-off period
and must abide by termination requirements,” he said.
“Under the ACL, fines of up to $50,000 for a company and $10,000 for an individual apply to
those who fail to observe this cooling-off provision.”
Mr Ayres said consumers should be fully informed about cancellation and refund conditions,
as well as the total cost of services, before signing any contract.
“When considering buying tutoring services or products from overseas or interstate institutions
over the internet, exceptional caution should be exercised,” he said.
“Not all tutoring products may be relevant to requirements of the NSW Board of Studies,
Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES).
“It is also important to check software compatibility and internet connection capacity before
purchasing any computer-based tutoring products.”
The CEO of the Australian Tutoring Association, Mohan Dhall, said reputable tutoring colleges
were members of the association, which prohibits deceptive practices and high pressure
selling.
“One of the big issues for us at present is that of accreditation,” Mr Dhall said.
“The ATA has developed a national accreditation with its accreditation partner Accredited
Tutor. This body also does national background police checks on tutors.
“The Association supports the accreditation of all tutors. Accreditation helps consumers have
confidence in the standard of tuition and the standard of training of tutors.”
Mr Dhall said parents should ask whether the tutors they hire are members of the ATA and if
they are accredited.
“In this way they can protect their interests as consumers and have confidence in the fact the
tutor they have engaged will abide by the ATA’s code of conduct.”
Under the ATA’s code of conduct, all members must:
1. Have a refund policy
2. Fully disclose staff qualifications
3. Accurately report on students’ progress and avoid creating dependencies
4. Interview prospective staff face-to-face and in person, including interstate staff
5. Refuse to do the work for the student
6. Disclose the form(s) of testing used when assessing students
7. Disclose the relationship between any programs of study and the curriculum offered by
the NSW Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards
8. Have a written grievance procedure available for parents in the event of any dispute.
The Fair Trading Tutoring tips for parents fact sheet can be downloaded from the Fair Trading
website. It is available in English, Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean and Vietnamese.
The ATA Code of Conduct is also available in English, Chinese (simplified and traditional),
Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Hindi, Greek and Italia

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