Here's a lesson on consumer rights. An Andheri-based tutoring centre has been slapped with a fine of Rs 3.64 lakh by the consumer court for failing to provide promised services to a Std XII student in 2013. Earlier this month, judges MY Mankar and SR Sanap directed Oxford Tutors Academy at Lokhandwala Complex, Andheri, which offers in-home tutoring to SSC, HSC, CBSE and ICSE students, to refund the fee of Rs 54,000, and pay up Rs 3 lakh for mental harassment that the student and her family suffered as well as Rs 10,000 towards their court expenses.
Abhivyakti and her mother, Neena Verma, took on Oxford Tutors Academy (below) at Lokhandwala Complex in Andheri for failing to deliver its promises. PIC/TEHNIYAT FATIMA
Abhivyakti Verma, a Science student who was preparing for her HSC exams, had signed up for coaching in Mathematics and Chemistry in 2013. Oxford Tutors Academy, which claimed to have an experienced faculty, was supposed to send tutors to her home, but for a month, it failed to provide a Chemistry teacher. Besides, the Mathematics tutor was from the Hindi medium and couldn’t teach Abhivyakti in English. After the student’s mother, Neena, an advocate, repeatedly asked the centre for a Chemistry tutor, it sent a teacher who taught Std VIII in the ICSE board.
Afraid that her daughter would lag in her studies, Neena again approached the centre in November that year, which then sent an IIT student to help solve a question paper bank. But even this student was unable to help Abhivyakti out. Stressed by the confusion, Abhivyakti, who had scored 83% in her SSC exams, failed to get even 60% in Physics-Chemistry-Mathematics combine for merit-based admission into a Hyderabad-based college she had been eyeing. She was later given a seat in the college after talks with the management.
Abhivyakti told mid-day that she couldn’t complete her studies due to the inordinate delays caused by the tutoring centre. “The Chemistry teacher was slow in covering portions, especially in the first six months. I was weak in Chemistry, and that it is why I had enrolled for coaching. I didn’t know what was happening. I was tense about everything. There was a time when I slipped into depression. It was my father who helped me with Chemistry. Also, the centre replaced the tutor at the last minute. The centre is responsible for my low score.”
Neena said that the tutoring centre had promised her lectures, revisions and paper solving, but kept none of those promises. “The teachers were incapable of teaching and because of having different tutors who had their own methods of teaching, my daughter was thoroughly confused and wasn’t prepared for the exams.”
She said the tutoring centre paid no heed to her repeated requests to address the problem. Neena filed a case against Oxford Tutors Academy in 2015 and represented herself in court. The centre did not reply to the court’s notice. While passing the judgment, the court said specialised coaching can help students perform better, but the tutoring centre had failed to deliver its promises.
Diksha Verma, counsellor with Oxford Tutors Academy, put the blame on Abhivyakti. “We have qualified teachers. The student was weak in studies. She joined the classes late and took tuitions from other centres as well, which is why she was confused. From our side, we have provided all services. In fact, the deal was for 285 hours and we gave 350 hours of service. She is yet to pay us for the extra lectures. The teacher sent to her home used to complain regularly that the student was not doing her homework. There were other complaints as well.”