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Saturday, October 20, 2007

ITC-training.com - International Tefl Certificate Barcelona


This tale of woe which happened a few years ago in Barcelona, Spain has been saved for posterity, as the company in question still appears to be trading. This is not an official blacklisting more of a warning to be careful when dealing with this organisation. If they care to respond I'd be more than happy to post anything they have to say and as usual if they are innocent will amend or remove the article (which appeared in The Prague Post as their head office appears to be based in the Czech Republic). They may well be a type of Catus Tefl outfit selling anything to anyone as long as the commision is right, so your beloved Inspector feels that a warning notice needs to be published to all you unsuspecting Teflers.

Angry students struggle for refund

Company boss says money repaid, denies wrongdoing

By Peter Kononczuk
Staff Writer, The Prague Post

Angry students claim a Prague-based training company left them stranded in Spain after canceling their course and then -- for months, despite repeated promises -- failed to refund the fees they had paid to train as English-language teachers.

The owner of ITC International TEFL Certificate s.r.o., Iva Brozova, denies she defrauded clients. She insists that students who were owed money have been repaid, and that her firm has had a good record for a decade.

However, her company has had its membership canceled by the College of Teachers, a professional body that says ITC has not complied with rules requiring integrity and conduct that does not bring the profession into disrepute.

Around 18 people, most from the United States, enrolled in an October course in Barcelona run by ITC, which is based in an office on Kaprova street, near Prague's Old Town Square.

Bridget Lynott said she paid 1,050 euros ($1,400) for the four-week program in teaching English as a foreign language, known as TEFL, a type of qualification required by many language schools around the world.

"I left my work and home to relocate to Barcelona. I paid for accommodation, health insurance and flights," Lynott said. "However, upon my arrival in Spain, on Oct. 7, a representative of ITC informed me that the course was canceled. On Oct. 8 the office was closed down ... I was unable to reach anyone in Prague or Barcelona and my messages went unanswered."

Lynott said her fellow students have filed a complaint with the FBI in the United States and with police in Barcelona.

After The Prague Post spoke to Brozova, Lynott said Dec. 20 that the ITC boss had finally assured her a refund has been made and faxed Lynott a receipt of the money transfer.

"As of yet, I have not received any money but it can take up to several days," Lynott added.

However, Nicole Flessati, a 29-year-old Swiss-American, who teaches English in Barcelona, said she had not been repaid the fees she paid for the canceled October course.

Other students who signed up for training in Spain are also angry.

"Many of us saved up all of our money for this trip and changed our lives around to travel across the world only to do this program," said 22-year-old Bob Murphy of Chicago, speaking by phone from Madrid.

"The majority of us are recent college graduates who spent all of their money on the course along with flight, insurance, and housing," he added. "I, however, was extremely fortunate because my bank returned the majority of my money to me because of 'services unrendered.' I was very lucky though."

Erwin Ebens, 40, told The Prague Post that he was the director of an ITC course in Barcelona in September, which was interrupted when staff walked out.

"The owner was often late paying many staff. That's why many of them left. They did not want to work in those circumstances," Ebens said. "By the fourth week of the course, all the staff had walked out in Barcelona -- four part-time freelancers and me. It was very stressing and unpleasant."

Ebens said he agreed to come back and finish overseeing the last two days of the program.

"To date, some staff still have not been fully paid. I am still owed about 1,000 euros by ITC," Ebens added.

Conflicting versions

Brozova, however, gave a different version of events. She insists that her firm is not in financial difficulties, says staff members have been paid and denies that students arriving in Barcelona were left stranded.

"The trainers delivered the whole product [in September] ... There was a health problem with the main trainer, and that's why we also canceled the October course," Brozova said.

She added, "All money was returned to the clients' accounts," and said students had been warned beforehand that the October course had been canceled.

Brozova said that over the past 10 years her company had graduated more than 3,000 students.

"They are satisfied and successful. The October course is the first we have ever canceled," she continued, adding that students were offered a January course in Prague as a replacement without extra payment.

Meanwhile, a number of the students were incredulous that ITC was still listing courses in Barcelona next year on its Web site, even though the firm says it will scrap its training programs in the Spanish city from January.

Challenged Dec. 20 as to why Barcelona courses were still being advertised on the Internet, Brozova simply replied: "It's not on the Web site." Barcelona courses were still on the site as of the morning of Dec. 21 but were removed that afternoon.

On the reasons that the Barcelona program would be shelved, Brozova said "the rules are getting more and more strict," for Americans who want to work in Spain, and "we do also try to find a job for our graduates, so it doesn't make any sense for Americans to go to Spain, not being able to work there."

Meanwhile, a woman who said she worked at ITC's Prague office until she quit on Dec. 14 said she thought it was "really wrong" that the company was still listing a training program in Barcelona on the Internet at the time she resigned.

"It's part of the reason I left. There were a lot of decisions made that are totally against my ethics. I think it has to stop," said the woman, who asked not to be named.

She added, "I don't want to be responsible for a course breaking halfway through and then having to deal with all the people who put all their savings into this and who then come with all these expectations and then [have] their dreams shattered. That would be awful."

The woman added that she believed courses run by ITC in Prague would continue unaffected.

Membership canceled

Matthew Martin, a spokesman for the College of Teachers, a body for the teaching profession in Britain that awards accreditation for schools internationally, said his organization has rescinded ITC's membership. He added, however, that as far as its course material was concerned, ITC was "a very reputable organization."

Brozova suggested that a business rival had written to the College of Teachers to complain against her company.


_________________________________________________________

Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Pamplona, Spain


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8 comments:

Anonymous said...

ITC is going through serious difficulties again at the moment, after managing to keep a good course running for a couple of years with the help of some very capable trainers. Both main trainers left recently, and what's left is second-rate - shabby facilities, rip-off accommodation, insufficient student turn-out for teaching practice, and inexperienced trainers.

Essentially, as long as Iva Brozova is running the school, it's not a place to be recommended to anyone. And I think she'll be there until the fingernails she's hanging on by, fall off, or wither away.

Be warned.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

DO NOT GO TO ITC. Training program is awful. Monkeys could teach English better. What a rip off! By the way, I did attend that school and am ashamed to even admit it.

Inspector Mchammered of the Lard said...

One of the above comments was removed as it contained too many typos, and was probably a duplicate posting/rant by the person who posted the comment directly above. The two posts were made within a minute of each other!

Anonymous said...

I also trained at ITC in February 2007 and could not agree more that their accommodation is shoddy, they try to rip you off and the course is nonsense. they say they offer 'help' with accommodation after the course when in fact the owners son, Martin Broz, CHARGES for this, and an astronomical price too!! So much for 'help'. I am not surprised to hear the main trainers have left, they were good but I guess they had not received support or assitance from the owner. Even the 'job assistance' is non existent. A few English schools attend the premises to do a presentation but as far as ITC giving any assistance for job preparation or anything, it doesn't exist.
Warning DO NOT GO TO ITC.

unmisguide said...

Dear Inspector McHammered of the Lard,

Thank you for updating the information on ITC. I would just like to inform people that googling ITC brings up two unrelated companies involved in TEFL course. Or so it appears to me.

The website of the school being complaint about is ITC-Training.com (http://www.itc-training.com/) and the other one seems totally unrelated and based in England: ITC = Intensive TEFL Courses (http://www.tefl.co.uk/)

So, for people looking to find a good course, be aware that there are two bodies working under the name ITC and, to me at least, they seem unrelated.

I gain nothing from reporting this. I work as an assistant course director in Thialand and and I am not a trainer, employer or tutee. I just wanted to help.

Anonymous said...

I attended ITC in mid-2005, around the time I think that the Spain thing broke and I was nervous to say the least at whether ITC would just disband altogether, which was a rumor at the time. Of course, it didn't, I finished the course, and actually was quite surprised at how challenging and intensive the course was. I am journalist by trade and I was glad to see how thorough their course was (not everyone passed the course carte blanche). However, I would caution that while the school offered some contacts for jobs in CZ and abroad teaching English, I wouldn't rely on it. There are so many English teachers in Prague that it is highly competitive to get a 40-hour gig that will pay the bills and earning $7/hr on a 20-hour week is rough for those who aren't expecting it. Be prepared to find other ways to earn money, or at least store up enough before you go so you can live reasonably while also being able to travel if you want (which most people do) and/or deal with a sudden bust in plans like earning less money than you expected. Or even better, Prague has many TEFL schools so shop around and presume nothing.

Anonymous said...

I think it is important to distinguish between the situation in Barcelona and in Prague, and the administration of the school and the quality of the course. Over the years I heard a few complaints about Iva's way of handling finances, but the course I had was really excellent, the instructors were top-notch, and I think it is worth mentioning that Iva is the one responsible for hiring such good instructors. I stayed in Prague for a year after taking the course and had a good job. I cannot comment on the situation in Barcelona.