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Refund rap on coaching centres

New Delhi, Dec. 25 (PTI): The Delhi consumer commission has reprimanded two professional coaching institutes for refusing to refund fees to two students who opted out of their courses mid-way.

The commission asked FIITJEE to pay Pramod Panwar Rs 62,000 and Brilliant Tutorials to pay Ashish Yadav Rs 23,000, dismissing appeals by the two institutes. Brilliant was also fined Rs 10,000.

The panel ticked off the institutes for ignoring its earlier directive restraining educational institutes from collecting a one-time fee for a two- or a three-year course.

Panwar, a resident of Shahdara, had sought a refund from FIITJEE after attending an engineering entrance course for over five months and finding it unsatisfactory.

Yadav had asked for a refund even before the course started at the Brilliant Tutorials centre at Janakpuri.

In both cases, the institutes had refused their claim. Fees once paid were not refundable, and by signing the papers, the students had conceded to the clause, the coaching centres said.

But the commission said that by charging the students a one-time fee for a course of two or three years, the institutes were forcing students to attend classes even if the quality of teaching was poor or the services unsatisfactory.

This “jeopardises their career prospects”, the panel said.

The clause stating “fees once paid is non-refundable” was unconscionable and amounted to unfair trade practices, the commission said, adding that such a term was against the interests of the consumer.

It said a candidate was “justified” in leaving a course mid-way as continuing with a “non-yielding” course was futile. The institutes would not be allowed to usurp the fees without providing any service, it added.

The panel said the institutes’ contention about financial loss in such cases was “fallacious” as there was always a long line of candidates waiting for their chance.

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