More on Home learning College from unhappy student

JnClaude E Clifford
JnClaude E Clifford Registered Posts: 19 New contributor 🐸
"Home Learning College - NOT RECOMMENDED!

I wanted to do an entry-level accounting course, something totest the waters. I decided on the AAT level 1 course and after at my optionsHome Learning College appeared to offer the most suitable format.

The problems started immediately. After checking somedetails, with HLC and AAT, I was told that I would be able to book my exam assoon as I finished my course work. I am due to join the armed forces isSeptember, so I confirmed with several advisors that I would have no problemsin getting the work done and taking the exam.

After phoning up to purchase the course, I was told mydesignated advisor was busy and would phone back ASAP to process thetransaction. Part of his pitch was the fact that I’d be able to startimmediately! He didn’t. I had to chase him up and eventually one of the womenwho directed calls did it for me.

HLC later that day began calling my place of work, a numberI had called them off but had NOT provided for contact. They called severaltimes and caused me problems at work.

Once they had taken my initial payment, I was told I’d beable to start immediately. I couldn’t. Not only could I not access the onlinematerials, but when I finally could log in five days later, there were noonline materials for my course! Apparently AAT hadn’t made it available yet –something I wasn’t told at point of sale.

My printed course turned up – I paid £460 for my course. Theentire materials consisted of one book that retails at £18.99 on the AATwebsite.

I made a complaint about this, asked for a refund but wastold it was just teething problems. The course advisor guaranteed me therewould be no other issues. Ha!

A few days later I requested the payment code for my AATmembership. Nearly two weeks past and I had heard nothing, so I chased it upwith my advisor. Email ignored. I sentanother email and was told I’d receive the code that day. I didn’t. I sent anotheremail the following day and finally got my code some hours later.

I was then contacted by one of their ‘financial team’ to sayI was late with my second instalment. This caused confusion as it was supposedto be taken automatically. The lady told me this was not possible as they couldnot store my card details. This affected my credit rating. Fast forward a monthand HLC are magically able to charge my card, sending me overdrawn (I intendedto pay with a different card, as discussed with the woman who called). When Imade a complaint about this, they fobbed me off saying the payment had beendeclined. Strange , as I had just been paid, I myself paid using the same cardthe day later and my bank had no record of any rejected payments!

When I enquired about booking my final exam, my ‘tutor’ toldme had achieved a good mark in myassignment and would be able to book the exam. I had not completed anyassignments at this stage.

I requested a course date and heard nothing for a week. Ithen received a nonsensical email, with no dates or reference to my particularcourse. I waited another week then sent an email of complaint. No response. Ithen made a formal complaint, as it is now too late for me to be able tocomplete the course.

After reviewing my complaint, HLC decided they had causedsome inconvenience but ultimately had provided the service advertised.Apparently I was offered an extra months ‘tuition’ and….. a free NUS card!

I was told that thecourses have a two month turnaround for booking exams – something I wasspecifically lied to about when they sold me the course.

The advisor even messed up my complaint – emailing me aresponse to anther dissatisfied student.

After escalating my complaint, whatever that meant, theyoffered me a £70 gesture of goodwill.

I had problems with literally every stage of my course. The onlything they did efficiently was collect my money. "


  • SashaDella
    SashaDella Registered Posts: 362
    It maybe worth bringing this up with the AAT
  • StuartW
    StuartW Registered Posts: 472 Dedicated contributor 🦉
    HiJnClaude E Clifford,

    Obviously, as an AAT employee, it's disturbing to read this. You say you complained to Home Learning College and had little joy - did you ever complain to AAT, and do you recall what team you received a response from?

    I notice you've posted about this a few times - understandably, given how frustrating the experience must have been. I wonder if you could specify when this took place? In recent times we've been working with training providers specifically to ensure their provision meets the standards AAT requires, which causes me to suspect this took place a few years ago (which doesn't make it any less frustrating for you, but helps us gauge whether it's likely to be something others mention in future).

    I'd really appreciate it if you could take the time to email and briefly outline who you contacted at AAT and how the conversation went.


  • JnClaude E Clifford
    JnClaude E Clifford Registered Posts: 19 New contributor 🐸
    Home Learning College

    Hi Stuart

    Thanks getting in touch. This was way back in 2007. I no longer have that information. Due to this Very upsetting episode I had a huge set back in completing my AAT. AAT service is far better now then it was in 2007.

    Firstly I was miss-sold the AAT course by Home Learning College. I spoke to the adviser who came to my home. I discussed my work experience (4yrs in management), what I would like to achieve etc. I was expecting to start the course at level 2, I was sent level 1. It also turned out that £ 895.00 was the cost of 1 unit not the entire level 1. I decided to stop paying for this overly priced unit. I sent a letter to HLC, got a reply months later, saying that I must still pay them.

    All this happened while I was out of work, in a depressed state, feeling worthless etc. (I believe they pray on individual in similar situations, you only need to check on line). Just one of the many forums on HLC;

    After 2-3 yrs I decided to do it through self-study (buying the books from Kaplan and booking the exams with them). What a difference, distance learning staff was VERY helpful, courteous and took time to reply to queries within a few days. I was also able to reach them via telephone. That gave me the confidence and motivation to get on with my studies. Although I still have 2 more exams and a written assignment to complete the AAT qualification, all due to work set backs and life in general, Kaplan has been a great source of motivation, by being willing to help and always pleasant to talk to.

    Its been a long hard road getting to where I finally want to be, and how feeling more confident, I recently receive a letter from some credit agent demanding money from me £495.00 which is the Home Learning college balance I refused to pay. Court proceeding was filed against me regarding that £495.00 sometime in 2008, due to that my credit history has a fault. And still they persist.

    What can I do next to get them off my back??

    JnClaude E Clifford
  • Joshd1982
    Joshd1982 Registered Posts: 1 New contributor 🐸
    Hi all, first post!

    The above was my complaint. Many thanks to the OP for reposting, as I think it's important that as many people as possible know what this company is like, how they treat 'students' and how frustrating it is to get the most basic requests
    seen through.

    I did contact AAT and to their credit, they contacted HLC on my behalf. There have been a few developments on the back of this, but I will update when finalised.

    Stuart, I highly recommend that AAT review licensing this company. Given that there are many accountancy bodies, I assume that reputation is very important (again, I speculate, I don't know). My complaint is edited for length, with only the more important issues detailed. I also removed repetitions of the same problems.

    It's literally comical how awful they are, I'm sure OP will back me up. It reads like a comedy sketch and people have said as much.

    Just to add to it - they are still yet to send my copies of the call transcripts as they promised, I also got a date sent for my exam, after telling them I would be in the army and had no interest in reconciling etc.

    They are con artists. It can't be legal to charge people for a service then not provide it.

    I'm expecting an email tomorrow, after having to chase up the complaint forwarded by AAT! Funnily enough, yesterday
    All my emails were returned unsent. So literally, every communication or dealings I've had with them has had at least 1

    P.s I would like to emphasise I am not using the term 'literally' in the incorrect way commonly seen lately.
  • StuartW
    StuartW Registered Posts: 472 Dedicated contributor 🦉
    Just to update on the situation with JNClaude E Clifford, the original poster - I have just spoken to my colleague who informs me that the issue has now been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.

    Joshd1982 - I appreciate you feel very strongly about your situation; I'm not going to comment on it at this point as AAT seem to be investigating, as you said.

  • zhulme
    zhulme Registered Posts: 52 Regular contributor ⭐
    I had a similar situation in 2007 with the bookkeeping levels 1 & 2 course. I paid £1090 got no feedback and then found out that everyone else on the courses had paid max £400. I sent email after email complaining but to no avail, I got nothing back at all in the way of an apology/gesture of good will.

    I was very young and nieve at the time and didnt see the "salesman" as i refer to him coming and i got fleeced big time, they seem to prey very much on the young promising this and that and then backing out.

    I do seem to remember after paying for the course getting ledger paper supplied, margin/lined, freepost envelopes (as part of the package i purchased) that they then pulled this and said were not supplying the items anymore! so that became a huge expense sending mock papers through regular (half of which i never got feedback on)

    very very poor and the reason now why i just buy the kaplan books off amazon and pay for an exam sitting, i'm not letting this happen again!
  • JnClaude E Clifford
    JnClaude E Clifford Registered Posts: 19 New contributor 🐸
    HLC: Letter form MMF 9National Doorstep & Legal Collection Specialists

    Dear Stuart

    I am very grateful to you for looking into the HLC issue. And happy HLC is no longer featured on the AAT web site.

    I just got a letter from MMF (National Doorstep & Legal Collection Specialists) regarding Home Learning college, demanding money from me or they will come to my house to collect. I would really like to put this behind me.

    Attachment not found.

    A million Thanks
    MMF.pdf 950.1K
  • ChrisatHomeLearning
    ChrisatHomeLearning Registered Posts: 4 New contributor 🐸
    Dear Mr Clifford
    I am the new Marketing Director at Home Learning College, brought in a few months back by the new owners of the business who bought it mid-2011. I’m sorry to say I only recently learned of your case and was saddened to see your story, which took place under the previous owners and managers of the business. Things were not as they should have been at that time.

    As a current representative of the business, I’d like to help. As you said, the business passed your debt on to a collection agency a while back. You may have already resolved this in the time that has passed since. Either way, although this took place before the company was sold, I’d like to speak to you personally about whether we can help. If you’re willing to discuss it, my contact details are below.

    With regard to Joshd1982, I have also reviewed this case. Sadly it sounds like we did communicate poorly, which was compounded with human error but the situation was resolved not long after when we gave a full refund. We work hard to avoid such situations, but with thousands of students, occasionally we will get things wrong. If they are reading this, please accept my apologies for causing such frustration.

    In the past 12-18months since being under new ownership, we’ve transformed most aspects of the business. We’re not yet perfect but things have greatly improved. You can read recent independent reviews at places like Our AAT exam pass rates also support this.

    If anyone reading this post have concerns and would like to speak to me personally, please email me at director@ homelearningcollege. com (without the spaces) or call me direct on 0I2I 722 5389. I will try and get back to you in person and certainly you’ll hear from us within 1 business day.

    Yours sincerely
    Chris Simpson.
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