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22 posts

Geek
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Topic # 157411 30-Nov-2014 20:02
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Hello - this is mainly a legal advice question and I'd be greatly appreciative of your thoughts.

I signed up online to do an online paper at Massey Uni, just for fun, but I ended up arguing with them for several weeks because they said they'd lost my transcript. I pointed out that I completed a post grad qualification with them 10 years earlier, but they said they'd lost all of my details. After a few weeks of arguing they finally approved it after admitting they were wrong, but by that time I'd already missed out the first week or two of classes and since I was too far behind I told them to just cancel it. They cancelled it but told me I had to pay 100% of the paper because I was a day or two past the cut off for cancelling, even though it was their error that had caused the enrolment delay. So I told them to reinstate it if they're forcing me to pay for it anyway, but they refused. I made a complaint through their complaints process but only got a standard template email back saying I had to pay for the paper.

I was advised by someone else to make a formal complaint to NZQA, which I did, but they wrote back and said they are no longer responsible for universities and didn't supply me with any information about where I can get assistance with this issue. In the end I gave up trying to get Massey to fix the situation (they didn't bother to return any of my calls or emails) and moved on with my life. A year later I got a text message from my ex-partner saying that Baycorp was constantly calling him saying that I owed Massey Uni money for that paper. They had my ex-partner's number because I had supplied it to Massey on my next-of-kin personal details for emergencies. I was shocked that Massey had breached the Privacy Act in this manner, but more shocked they'd referred this disputed situation to Baycorp. I've moved house at least three times in the past year and changed my number.

Note that I've never had a debt in my life (I work in finance so I religiously pay all invoices the day I receive them) so I don't have any experience with debt. What do I do about this - is there a disputes court that I can take Massey to for charging me for a service they never supplied? I was never informed that the online application I filled out for this paper would be referred to Baycorp after our dispute - doesn't Massey require a signature from me to charge me for that paper that I was never supplied? I never signed anything with them. Also, they were the ones who never returned my phone calls or emails when I complained to them about the issue so I had given up chasing them about it.

Any advice is much appreciated. I've gotten to a point where I thinking of just moving overseas permanently as I don't know what else to do.



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2090 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 1185914 30-Nov-2014 20:20
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I strongly suggest you get advice from someone qualified - not an internet forum.

Citizen's Advice Bureau may be a good place to start.



ckc

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1185988 30-Nov-2014 23:04
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NZQA are the people to complain to,  BUT there is a 12 month limitation on complaints, so if this happened over 12 months ago, they won't touch it. You can also complain to the Ombudsman, but again, if it happened over 12 months ago, they may not investigate. If you have been avoiding the issue, then it's possible neither of them could investigate.

Go to your local Community Law Centre. This is way beyond the CAB. You need to get advice from a (free) lawyer. There may be a Consumer Guarantees Act issue here. Although contractually they may have the right to refuse to refund after a certain point (on the courses I've taught, however, that point is very flexible, as you want the student to graduate, not throw money away), they can't make you pay and then refuse to teach unless you've been deemed to have committed gross misconduct. What I will say, however, is that when you signed up to the course, it's certain there was a debt recovery clause in there, so they in all likelihood will have the right to pass information to Baycorp as a debtor.

You may find it helpful to:

- Put in a formal Privacy Act request to Massey requesting your information. That way you know what information they have about you. Do the same with Baycorp. This will, however, tell them where you are, so speak to the Community Law Centre first.
- Find their complaints and grievance procedures. They have a process to follow, and if they failed to follow it properly and inform you of the steps you could take, then they failed. However, you also have to follow their processes.

Just an FYI, universities are hard as on academic staff who fail or who get complained about, but the administration walk around and get away with all kinds. It's not easy to deal with that side of the university, and most universities don't have proper processes for dealing with misconduct between students and admin staff.

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 1185991 30-Nov-2014 23:26
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Go to your local community law office , they provide free legal advice.




Location: Dunedin



22 posts

Geek
+1 received by user: 6
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  Reply # 1186539 1-Dec-2014 18:32
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ckc: NZQA are the people to complain to,  BUT there is a 12 month limitation on complaints, so if this happened over 12 months ago, they won't touch it. You can also complain to the Ombudsman, but again, if it happened over 12 months ago, they may not investigate. If you have been avoiding the issue, then it's possible neither of them could investigate.

Go to your local Community Law Centre. This is way beyond the CAB. You need to get advice from a (free) lawyer. There may be a Consumer Guarantees Act issue here. Although contractually they may have the right to refuse to refund after a certain point (on the courses I've taught, however, that point is very flexible, as you want the student to graduate, not throw money away), they can't make you pay and then refuse to teach unless you've been deemed to have committed gross misconduct. What I will say, however, is that when you signed up to the course, it's certain there was a debt recovery clause in there, so they in all likelihood will have the right to pass information to Baycorp as a debtor.

You may find it helpful to:

- Put in a formal Privacy Act request to Massey requesting your information. That way you know what information they have about you. Do the same with Baycorp. This will, however, tell them where you are, so speak to the Community Law Centre first.
- Find their complaints and grievance procedures. They have a process to follow, and if they failed to follow it properly and inform you of the steps you could take, then they failed. However, you also have to follow their processes.

Just an FYI, universities are hard as on academic staff who fail or who get complained about, but the administration walk around and get away with all kinds. It's not easy to deal with that side of the university, and most universities don't have proper processes for dealing with misconduct between students and admin staff.


Thanks for this informative response. I agree with you that the lecturers actually try to do a good job but the admin staff are just there for a summer holiday job and it's not their problem at the end of summer. It's been automated the whole way, from their template responses to my initial complaints and more template responses to my formal complaint so there has been no real "face" behind the process. It makes me wonder how many other people there are out there in this exact situation - probably a lot.

There was nothing on the online application that said they'd refer it to Baycorp; it simply stated that failure to pay meant they wouldn't credit that course to the student and therefore the student would not be able to graduate. I thought that clause was fair enough and I would list that clause if I ran a university. After our disagreement they lost a student and I lost valuable time when I could have enrolled for that course at Auckland Uni and have finished by now, so we both lost out, but there was definitely no clause that said they'd also refer it to Baycorp. And no clause that said they'd violate the Privacy Act by constantly harassing my next-of-kin.


15 posts

Geek


  Reply # 1186632 1-Dec-2014 20:42
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Check out www.lawspot.org.nz where you may be able to get free help to legal questions.

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