If this post is not right in the "Online Opportunities", please let me know. This is a review of what happened between me and GAC.
I had a very bad experience with GoAboradChina (GAC) and I’d like to share my experience to enable you to make the most suitable choice. Go Abroad China - Internship in China | Study Chinese in China | Volunteer in China | Study in China
First of all, I want to say that I meet other participants of the program and it seems that for two of them things worked out fine.
What happened to me?
I paid around $6,500 while applying for internship/accommodation with Chinese host/visa. All for a duration of 22 weeks(~6month). Internship should have been from Aug 2014 until Jan 2015. 2,5 month after official internship start, in Oct 2014 I asked for a refund, since it was already 2,5 month behind schedule without any result. After countless discussions I finally got a refund of 40%, which I had to fight hard for until the beginning of February 2015.
Wasted time, money and no internship. No further compensation besides the 40% refund.
If we look at the numbers:
August until mid-October ->2,5 month out of 6
For those 2,5month, I had accommodation(GAC paid my host around 160 USD/month), visa(I was told by GAC $200), no internship
Got a refund of 40% of total amount. GAC earned around 3,900 USD or 60% for doing not even 1/3 of their job.
Now let’s get to a list of facts:
1. Applied in February 2014, stating my internship should start at the beginning of August 2014.
- Internship never started. I got 5 offers, from which I declined 2. The other 3 were withdrawn by GAC themselves after I already accepted them.
2. Information is not taken seriously/my placement requirements ignored
- I wrote in my application about my requirements for the company. NONE of the offers I got from GAC did match them, even after expanding my suitable areas of work, they did not even come close to what they promised at the beginning.
Maybe my requirements were just too difficult, so check for yourself what I asked for:
“big” companies -> one company had around 20 employees
“international” -> from all employees, only one could speak English(the salesman)/I would have been the only foreigner(international also includes business with other countries, but that’s again another story)
“wind power” -> got offers from in a car factory(no, they did not have a wind farm or anything related. It was seriously just about cars and manufacturing them)
“in Shanghai” -> 2/5 offers have been in Beijing
At the end, I still accepted 3/5 offers, even if not suitable(but GAC canceled them later on)
I checked some of the companies out by myself, including a visit and a personal talk with the responsible managers(GAC did not know about this. I took the initiative with the help of a friend.)
- I informed GAC detailed about travel plans I had a week before and asked to avoid that time getting in touch with me before August. During my travels I receive emails why I don’t reply fast(it was within one day!) and that she has no idea where I am right now. Next time I should reply faster, is what she said.
3. being limited taking opportunities
It is easy to get a well-paid part time job in China as a English teacher. Since I already lived in China, I even had the right connections to do so even more easy in a very pleasing environment. After beginning of August and no internship, I was always told “we focus with all our resources on finding a suitable position for you. Don’t worry. We promise you will hear from us very soon”
So, I expected to get notified within the next few days, which would have forced me to suddenly quit my teaching job and possibly took this opportunity from me in the future. I waited 2,5 month until I asked for refund…
4. Took me for a fool – paying for unrequested services
- Few days after beginning of August, when my internship should already have started, I got a email “…Meanwhile, we prepared Chinese classes for you.” I was naďve to think that this might be a compensating offer for the delay caused by GAC. I had to pay every single class.(I was stupid not to ask directly if it’s free of charge~ My fault.)
- I was told in “my folder” I have ordered services like “pick and drop at airport”/”Chinese classes”/”certificate”/”24 hour costumer service”
Facts like I never arrived at the airport, was never dropped anywhere either, certificate was never written, Chinese classes+24 hour service namely excluded on my application form, were all not convincing enough for them to not charge me. Even their own offer of 24 hour service/certificate is, to quote: “free of charge” seems to have a different meaning to GAC than to me.
4.1 monthly stipend / scholarship
Before the program, I asked for the frame of the monthly payment. I was told average is around 2.500 RMB/month, highest so far can go up to 5.000RMB/month or more.
Strangely, all my offers where the price was mentioned I was told to get 1000RMB/month.
I know, statistics suck…
5. The contact speed slowed down dramatically
At first, the emails and skype msg were replied swiftly. After I paid the money, it slowed down. Waiting for around a week for a reply became more frequent. After requesting the refund, the waiting time increased even more, if the questions were answered at all.
If I only count the times I needed to wait for 4 or MORE days, I sum up more than 135 of pure waiting for replies! I have to note that I replied every email within 24hours, since I check them frequently and the whole thing anyway was very urgent after I couldn’t start in August.
6. Wasting time on unnecessary things
- Emails are most of the time(not always) friendly. Questions vary from how is the weather today or statements “its getting colder. You should wear more clothes”. That is fine, but my MS Word is telling me, that we exchanged over 25.000 words. That’s a ridiculous amount. We exchanged over 130 Emails.
While on the other hands, “difficult” questions being ignored or not answered at all.
- I got an internship by myself. In a conversation about the refund, I happened to mention “I am still in the office”. Immediately questions being asked which company? I didn’t answer, since the highest priority was getting my money back. Not for GAC. In the upcoming emails I was continuously asked about information of my company(my guess, to get a new partnership for upcoming business opportunities)
Maximizing profit. That’s the goal of every company, so I can’t really blame them, but it’s just the way they do it which sucks for you as a costumer.
- Like already mentioned, they charged me for everything possible. Besides the above mentioned, there happened the other thing with the refund. They said something like “...normally the costumer have to take care of all transaction related costs, but in this case we will cover them.” Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Here they also asked about a paypal or Chinese Bank account.
If I receive money on paypal, paypal with deduct 2,9% as charge, while sending money, nothing happens(that method was btw. never mentioned when I needed to pay for the program at the beginning, but suddenly it became an option. Guess why?)
I asked if they would cover for the 2,9% charge, since it is an transaction fee. Suddenly, it could not be covered by GAC anymore. They did not explain why.
It had to be a Chinese Bank account. Foreign accounts were not an option. The money should have been transferred in RMB only. They said their bank account can not transfer anything, but RMB only(strange that I could only pay in USD. I even offered to pay in cash in Shanghai, since I anyway already lived in China before the internship. I offered both, USD and RMB. Both not possible.)
So they still said, they will cover transaction fees(I didn’t get answers why paypals transaction fee wasn’t covered). As far as I know, the transaction fee from a Chinese Bank account to another Chinese Bank account in RMB has NO CHARGES anyway. So the seemingly nice offer turned out like this.
I opened a new Bank account at China Construction Bank(one of the biggest Banks in China), made a picture of my bank details which I got as a printed version from the bank and sent it to GAC. “Your money has been returned to our account. Do you have a friend where we can transfer it to?” Also, no reason why the money could not have sent to my account.
8. more bad references from other people doing business with GAC
While joining two weekend activities(which have been pleasing), I also got it touch with other members of the program. I found out that a former costumer had a similar problem like me.
Huge delay, no internship, small refund, with the only difference that he took a lawyer with him. So, I was not the first, and possibly not the last.
9. Refund negotiations
First, they mentioned: “Only internship was not delivered. This covers not even 14% of the total program fee.”
After dozens of emails, in which I have simply be quoting on GAC’s previous emails, we got up to 35% refund. Since for the duration and things delivered, I did not even get 1/3 of everything which was btw. “promised”. I asked therefore for 70% refund(I didn’t even start to ask for compensation of my wasted time and my time problems I was in with my own university, since I didn’t return with the REQUIRED internship). Still, 70% sounded reasonable for me and for GAC’s services. While saying that, I was laughed at. Being asked afterwards, if we can’t find a more accommodating offer. I said “Ok, so lets meet in the middle of 35% and 70%” In easy math, that’s 52,5% refund. Later on, I was told the manager does not give more than the offered 35%, nevertheless my contact person said: “I will give you 40% and take responsibility for it” How much truth is in here, I don’t know, but I know for sure that those 5% will show up in the book if there is proper accounting going on. If it was a way to try to calm me down and make me accept only 40%, I can only guess.
I tried to pay attention to details and exact statements. I have a well-structured record of the whole process with GAC and hour over 100 emails. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me anytime over email@example.com or directly in this thread.
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