Parents fume as edtech platforms force them to buy online courses

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As the government begins to take steps to fix edtech platforms like BYJU’s, several parents have shared their plight on social media and professional networking platforms as representatives from online education providers continue to force them to buy courses.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs recently pulled up edtech firms during a meeting with them and self-regulatory organisation India Edtech Consortium (IEC) amid aggressive misselling of courses to parents.

“Hey BYJU’S and WhiteHat Jr… Trust me I am pushing my daughter to start learning coding, and do IIT JEE preparations with you guys, but she is just not willing to do so. Kids these days don’t listen to their parents. She just wants to be an artist. So, please stop calling me to sell these plans/devices,” Prashant Sharma, who is into business development and a consultant with a penchant for storytelling, posted on LinkedIn.

His post led to a barrage of similar situation being faced by parents all over the country, who are fed by constant aggressive selling of courses by the edtech representatives.

Srikant Ganesh, Vice President at Dentsu Creative India, posted that he can totally relate to Sharma’s experience.

“My 9 year old son’s into chess, plays the keyboard and is into speed-cubing and has no inclination towards computers / coding as such. I believe BYJU’s and WhiteHat’s of the world realise that there’s more to kids these days than just learning to code and yes! They have a mind of their own and no one can push them into something they are not inclined towards. This false sense of FOMO being created by such brands should stop and so should the calls,” Ganesh lamented.

After the Centre took serious note of mis-selling of courses to parents by edtech firms, self-regulatory organisation IEC said it is committed to protecting consumer interest and has resolved 100 per cent complaints received till June.

However, fresh complaints surfaced on social media platforms this month, indicating that the problem has not been addressed in totality.

“This happened to me. The sales representatives of #Byju’s need to be trained to handle a ‘No’. I have personally experienced this when a representative called my wife and she said that we don’t want to enroll. He kept calling and then I had to intervene. He kept insisting that your child had been registered on their site, so how could we say No! He didn’t seem to understand and finally I had to explain to him by activating my desi side. I registered my complaint on their site but it was removed the next day,” posted Dheeraj Grover, Senior Manager, HR, at VVDN Technologies.

Thangarathnavel M., Head of Business Development-South Asia at German company Covestro, said on LinkedIn that he could fully relate to it too.

“I had enrolled my son 2 years back but it was not much of any use. Few months back I started receiving calls from them again to enrol my son for the physical classes. But even after saying no, the calls never stopped. Once I gave a piece of my mind to one of the callers and asked him to share the mobile number of Mr. BYJU. Now the calls have stopped coming. Hope they stop this forever,” he described his plight.

Earlier this month, the Centre warned edtech companies against unfair trade practices.

In a meeting with the IEC, Consumer Affairs Secretary, Rohit Kumar Singh, said that if self-regulation does not curb unfair trade practices, then stringent guidelines would be formulated for ensuring transparency.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the IAMAI, along with IEC member companies including upGrad, BYJU’S, Unacademy, Vedantu, Great Learning, WhiteHat Jr, and Sunstone.

During the meeting, issues pertaining to unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements for the Indian edtech sector figured prominently.

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