Edtech startup in the dock over alleged irregularities

Joining a list of edtech startups that are facing the wrath of angered customers, Henry Harvin Education (HHE) known for providing a wide range of training and advisory courses has irked many individuals, who allege irregularities in the organisation that has cost them time and money.

Abhishek NairUpdated: Monday, August 29, 2022, 04:35 PM IST
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Representational image | Pixabay

Employees and graduates across India and abroad who applied for Henry Harvin Education’s French, Certified Scrum Master (CSM), Human Resources (HR), etc courses have been seeking answers on the unavailability of classes, non-payment of refunds, and lack of communication from the officials.

French learners say no refund in sight

Jincy Varghese, an Engineer by profession, who wanted to learn French says that she faced many hurdles. “I was assured by one of the counsellors that I can start as soon as I want, trainers being really good, and the batch having a strength of just around 8-10 individuals. I had asked for a weekend batch and paid Rs.18,000 for French A1 and A2 course on July 1 but despite the commitments by them I was not allocated any batch on the requested days,” said Jincy who added that on July 10, which was supposed to be her first day of class, an Email Communication lecture was conducted due to lack of a trainer for French. “When I attended the class again on July 17th, Sunday there were 19 people and the instructor had changed,” added Jincy who then made a WhatsApp group with 12 others who enrolled in HHE’s course weeks and months ago while still not attending a single class. “We all asked a company official and the instructor for a person we could talk to but they kept dropping the call which frustrated us,” said Jincy, who wanted to apply for Permanent Residency in Canada for which learning French is important.

Refund guaranteed within 7 days but not if logged in, says HHE policy

According to HHE’s official policy, a customer can request a refund within 7 days of purchase of the course but a money-back guarantee is void if the participant has logged into the course. “Any refund request beyond 7 days of purchasing the course will not be accepted and no refund will be provided,” says the text under Cancellation Policy on HHE’s official website. Jincy claims that when asked for a refund due to batches not being allocated properly, she was told that she will never get the money back due to policy. “Even when I told an HHE official that I will file a police complaint, the person told me that I can file one as soon as possible,” alleged Jincy, who also put up a LinkedIn post on the matter and tagged the CEO of the company, Kounal Gupta.

“They kept delaying the classes. Our first class was about Email Communication, which was something we didn’t need as working professionals. Many raised issues with the way lectures are being conducted and asked for refunds,” said Shubham Sharma, who paid Rs.12,000 for the A1 batch of French but didn’t receive a refund. “We were directed to their Finances team, which is customer support, but to no avail,” added Sharma, a Bangalore-based Risk, and Compliance executive who also raised doubts on the validity of 250 courses on different fields being promised by HHE.

Henry Harvin providing its own CSM certification, allege customers

Certified Scrum Master (CSM) course learners on the other hand, who availed of HHE’s services, say that they believed the course to be certified by Scrum Alliance and not Henry Harvin.

“Without the Scrum Alliance certificate, this course and certificate from Henry Harvin are of no use to us. My batchmates are also in a fix as we are not getting any clear answer,” said Siddheshwar Raj who says that he paid Rs.17,000 for the course on the assurance that the certification is under the organisation and not HHE. “An additional Rs. 7,000 was asked from me for the certification from Scrum but when I enrolled at Harvin, I was told the course fee included the certification,” stated Siddheshwar, who added that he will not recommend HHE to anyone.

A telecom professional, Ayan Banerjee, also flagged a similar issue when he attended the 3-week class for CSM at HHE. “I have put posts on social media wherein I have highlighted this incident of providing us certification approved by HHE and not Scrum Master. We also realised that the trainer may not be certified to teach CSM himself,” said Ayan who paid Rs.12,000 to the edtech startup for the course.

Issues with trainers, names being removed from portal

People who paid for Henry Harvin’s courses also alleged that classes were supposed to last for two hours but instead got done within an hour due to the trainer joining the class late. “The trainer used to join the call after an hour or so which resulted in the classes finishing early. Trainers were changed at least 2-3 times after which I left the course,” said Deepali Sahu, who paid more than Rs. 22,000 and enrolled under a financial course SAP FICO. “We were denied access to SAP S/4HANA even though it was mentioned earlier and the trainers were also not well versed with it,” added Deepali.

While individuals who made a consumer complaint alleged that their name was removed from the HHE portal. “I wanted a morning batch for the past 4-5 months but didn’t receive one after which I asked for my refund but received no response. Finally, I decided to file a complaint with the customer support and put up a LinkedIn post after which my name, login id, was removed from the portal as a customer for the course,” alleged Geetanjali, who wanted to learn SAP HR as a job requirement. “Since I paid only Rs.4,500, I kept getting calls asking for the fees to be the remaining fees to be paid but not for a solution,” added Deepali.

HHE addresses the allegations

Free Press Journal contacted Henry Harvin with a set of allegations from various individuals who have used their services to which the startup provided a rebuttal of their own.

“When it comes to the payment process, every customer is required to read through and agree to our cancellation policy, terms of use, and other policies whose details are specifically listed out to avoid any miscommunication later, before making the payment for the course of their choice,” said Naren Ray, Customer Support Manager, HHE.

In a lot of cases, participants, owing to a change in their work or personal schedule shift, want to move from weekday batches to the ones on weekends. While we highlight the batch schedule on our website at all times, we still try our best to make some arrangements possible as per their changing schedule. The move is aimed at aiding our customers, making sure they don’t miss out on their learning while catering to other full-time commitments,” the statement further said.

'We are a customer-first company,' maintains HHE

Addressing the allegations, the organisation maintained that it’s a ‘customer-first company’. “Unlike the complaints, you would have heard about the EdTech firms in the past, HHE has always been a customer-first company that lays a greater emphasis on building prosperous and long-term relationships with our customers. That's why our customer support staff is strictly trained to entertain and address all the queries of our customers, even when they're being rude. The only exception we have is against personal attack using profanity and foul language which directly leads to blocking the individual in person. Other than that, we firmly believe in listening to our customers for feedback and suggestions in a bid to improve our courseware products,” the statement said.

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