Academic Online Scam!

I don’t tend to make a habit of complaining about companies on social media, but an online learning company called Shaw Academy have taken my patience to the limit. They appear to be operating a scam which promises a free four-week trial period of the course of your choice. But before the trial period is ended, as you navigate around the website during the course of looking at the course material, you may be charged via a series of pop-ups, £49.99 for a ‘toolkit’ (whatever that is) and another £49.99 for ‘course materials’ (PDFs of some of the lesson slides) … pop-ups that are very difficult to remove without clicking on them.  

Once you sign up to the free trail, it is then almost impossible to unsubscribe – when you try to do so, it will take you to a page which says you must ring them (on an 0800 number) to ‘confirm’ your cancellation and to help them to ‘understand’ why you wish to cancel.  People who have rung them report that SA will try to dissuade you from cancelling and will try to get you to agree to sign up to one of their payment plans (prices seem to vary) – even if you refuse, and continue to request cancellation and refund of any money taken during the trial period, you will often find that they sign you up anyway, and when you try to email them to request a refund they ignore your emails (might give you a support tick ID number but that’s it, and of course the other hard sell emails continue); or they will try to phone you many times, in my case at inconvenient moments, even late in the evening.  In addition, they will bombard you with a series of aggressive selling emails, trying to convince you to pay to “Secure your hard copy diploma now!” (even before you’ve taken a lesson) or to ‘secure your future!’, ‘sign up to one of our plans!’ and so on. I received 165 emails during the trial period of 4 weeks (28 days). In the end I asked them to stop emailing and phoning me. I no longer receive the marketing emails but am still getting ‘your next class is at…’ and ‘you missed your class!’ emails. I have tried to change/cancel the lesson schedule on the website, to no avail.  

As mentioned, they will refuse to refund you (even if you try to cancel during the tiral period, as I did) and if you do speak to them on the phone, they will simply offer further free courses and will not enter into further discussions with you.

This is the scenario that has played out with many people including myself. Just search ‘Shaw Academy’ on Twitter, for instance, to see a litany of similar stories. People have lost hundreds of pounds this way. There is also a Facebook support group – but beware the one that Shaw set up using the same name. The legitimate one is here and does not allow Shaw employees to join.

In a virtual meeting with City of London Trading Standards on 6th November 2020 Shaw Academy told them that they operate a ‘no quibble refund guarantee’. Funny that, since so many people are indeed having their refund requests quibbled and ignored. Their Support Team (via Twitter Direct Message) even tried to tell me, a few days before the end of the trial period, that I could not have a refund because I was too late to cancel!!  A few days later, they also, after telling me in the same Twitter DM that I had been given three months free ‘to complete the course’ (which I did not ask for nor want) tried to charge me for their 3-month plan at £39.99 per month, which I did NOT sign up to or agree to. Now they have agreed to cancel my account but I have to agree to it within 7 days or have my account cancelled without refund. I have replied accordingly, restating my request for a full refund of monies taken during the free trial period, but am not convinced they will do so. My worry now is that they will cancel my account and then deny all knowledge of my existence and therefore the need to refund me. Fortunately, I have kept all the emails and screen shots of the conversation via DM on Twitter, etc. I have spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to resolve this and am no nearer, despite messaging one of the CEOs on Linked In, and sending several emails. I’ve also joined up with the #shawacademyscam hashtag group on Twitter… PayPal backed them up and have refused to refund me. So watch this space…

Trust Pilot have a warning about them on their review page for Shaw Academy (and oh how I wish I had looked on Trust Pilot first!!!)  for falsifying reviews and trying to influence reviewers into changing their bad reviews. Trading Standards are aware of them and have given advice to victims, which I have followed. Alas yet, still to no avail. There is also a website, which is not linked to or owned by the Facebook group, but which contains a link to that group. It also has some good advice for victims. If you are in the UK and have lost money this way, you can also report them to Citizens Advice Bureau who will advise you. You can do that here.

Many people, perhaps trying to better their employment chances, or (like myself) simply for self-improvement, have been and will continue to be caught in Shaw Academy’s scam during this time of confinement at home. This is appalling, and surely criminal. I am hoping the National Crime Agency here in the UK might investigate them. This cannot be allowed to go on… I have just set up a petition , which I hope might help. See images below for some advice from Trading Standards (I apologise for the grainy image) and Trust Pilot’s warning about them.

Published by EJ Jackson

I write, therefore I am! Love film, theatre,TV and books: science-fiction, thrillers/crime and mystery. Geek, wife and mum, sister. Created the official Appreciation Society for 'The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy', Author of 'The Methuselah Paradox' and new comic book series 'Minding Mama' (illustrated by Dan Schaefer). Author of 'The Journey & Other Short Stories' (August 2014) , 'The Methuselah Paradox' (August 2016) , 'New Leaf' (2017) , 'Minding Mama & Other Short Stories (Feb 2019) and 'Minding Mama' a post-apocalyptic adventure (tbc). Lots more in the pipeline! I'm also researching my family history. Find out more on ! "Imagination is the highest kite one can fly." - Lauren Bacall

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