Saturday, November 29, 2014

Life Tips: Record Your (Important) Meetings

2014 has a shit year in terms of finances.
Yes, you heard right, finances.

I sound like I'm in a mountain full of debt right?

This year has taught me one thing: audio record all your important meetings.
Yeah, that didn't cross your mind, did it?

Speaking from experiences, I've been screwed over twice this year in contracts that amounts to my debt.

Incident #1 -
I REALLY wish I can tell you the name of this "business" that screwed me over 22k buuuut, in fear of any legality issues of 'defaming' them (it's a small business), I won't. But trust me, I wish nothing more than to see this company burn down and all the staff members desperately try to look for jobs.

Basically, this "company" is a college. A vocational college to be exact (or also known as career colleges). Before I start this rant story, keep this in mind: my goal was to get a diploma (1.5 yrs), use that diploma to get a job for approx. 3-5 years for the required experience to get HR certificated BUT during those years I'm working, study part time online towards my Bachelor's. Because, to get HR certified, you need a minimum of 3 years work experience in the HR field before they even allow you to take the exam - at the same time, in order to take the exam, you also need a Bachelor's degree. See how my awesome plan ties everything together?!

So (I'll try to keep this as short as possible), after reviewing their website countless of times and feeling the urge to get more info, I arranged a meet up with the school. On that day, I took along my best friend to sit down with me and get a sense of this school. We met up with Tarah*. I had a list of questions that MUST be answered to ensure my decision to enroll in this school. My MAIN question that would make or break my enrollment was this:
Can I transfer my diploma to SFU? (a local university)

And Tarah replied with "Yeah, you can transfer it to SFU, to UBC, pretty much to any university".
She also added the guaranteed co-op (work experience for students), would also be paid.

So, in the end, I chose this school because unlike the other school that offered HR programs, this school was transferable, AND paid co-op/work experience AND it was shorter than the other programs. Sound like the perfect match for my perfect plan, right?

Fast forward after a year or so.
Here's what I noticed about the school:
- Students complaining about their co op options. Apparently they're being offered positions that requires you to clean a bathroom in a yoga studio and a bunch of shitty co ops that doesn't match their studies. I was offered a marketing position but I was studying HR AND by the time my scheduled co-op term begins, the school hasn't found anything (the school promised they'll find a co op for us, the students don't really have to search)
- I'm starting to hear rumors that we can't transfer our diplomas
- This rumour is then clarified as the truth. At this point, I was pretty pissed off and asked if there's other alternatives
- Campus director told me to do a "Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition". This service was later deemed unsuccessful because my diploma isn't registered under the Canada Universities and Colleges. Also, this service nearly cost me $750 out of my own pocket.
- Out of all (4 in total) the HR students, I paid the most for my tuition because 1) Tarah knew I came from another university but didn't ask for my transcript so I paid for courses that I could have transferred in and 2) I signed up 3 months before they drastically changed their prices and they won't acknowledge a price change.
- Paid co-ops was a lie AND it's not a guarantee

And among other things. By the time I completed all my courses, I didn't get my co op yet so I literally spent a month at home, spending my own time and resources, to apply for co-ops for myself, a service the school offered to do. On top of that, I didn't receive ANY help from the staff members, shitty eh?

After finding out that I couldn't transfer this diploma ANYWHERE, I requested to seek a refund of at least 50% of my tuition. After a nasty battle, I lost because in the end, I still signed the contract, regardless of what was told to me. I presented my case as signing a contract under misrepresentation but because I didn't have any evidence (and my friend can't serve as witness), I couldn't get the refund. I also found out that Tarah got fired and there's no way in contacting her again. I would like to proceed with the Better Business Bureau but at the same I'm so tired of fighting this school. Plus, I studied law and business law and legally speaking, I would lose in a court battle as well.

Sooo, goodbye 22k. 22k spent for NOTHING. I literally handed 20 grand to these assholes.
I wish I can go back time and hit record on my stupid iPhone. On top of that, after sending out angry tweets about this school, they've threaten me that they can sue me for defamation. (Which brings the question, how is it a defamation when my review on the school is an honest and truthful experience?)

Incident #2 -
This is with Steve Nash, a popular gym in the city. They're well known for being the city most overpriced gym but I chose to sign up because it's the closest facility to where I live.

When I agreed to make an appointment to check out the gym, I was greeted by Brian* and he gave me a tour around the gym and sold me its perks. I checked online and the gym looks pretty cool. When we finally got around to talking about the prices, he broke it down to three membership levels:
Level 1 - access to the several locations around the lower mainland
Level 2 - Zumba classes, several locations & Yaletown access
Level 3 - all of level 1 and 2.

I used to be a dancer back in high school and I figured Zumba might be pretty fun, even though I've never done it. I was a bit hesitant in choosing level 2 but I asked Brian if it's possible to downgrade my membership if I don't like Zumba. He said it's possible BUT it's just a hassle. I'll have to call HQ. That I don't mind doing so I agreed to level 2 membership. Brian did NOT tell me that there's a contract to maintain.

After a couple of months or so of using the gym, I realized I don't have the time or schedule to fit the Zumba classes. I emailed Brian to get a downgrade in my membership and he replied back in the email that I need to commit to one year of level 2 membership. I was beyond piss because he NEVER mentioned anything about commitment or a contract! Besides, I'm NOT even leaving the gym, I just want a cheaper membership. On top of that, I'm also purchasing their personal trainer sessions and they can't give me a break on my membership?!

I know a gym membership isn't THAT much but as a student AND the fact that I'm not using their Zumba classes or Yaletown location, I'm pretty much handing over free money every month.

I now have the audio recording app on my main apps page instead of in the all 'all apps' section (Android phone). It's not that I'm always out and about looking for expensive investments but it's nice to have that reassuring audio file whenever one of my services decides it's fun to pull one over me.

PLUS, (correct me if I'm wrong, any law students out there) I remember in my business law class, an oral confirmation can serve as a contract even though there's no proof of it. However, if you have proof (such as audio recording or signed paper), it's just a reassurance in case anything does go wrong.

Regardless of how reputable a company may be, eg. Steve Nash Fitness, just hit the record button when you sit down at the office. You can always store it in your cloud or on the computer so it's not even taking up storage in your phone.

A friendly tip, before you enter the company, stand in a quiet area (or do this at your home before leaving) and hit the record button and say something like, "March 25th, 2014. I am about to head out to meet up with (Suzy of) ABC company. This is regards to my refund complaint." Something like that. And, be sure to catch their name in the audio. I would say it's better off if that person introduced him/herself on tape but if you missed the opportunity and you're too shy to ask them to confirm themselves, just state their name and position on your own.

I wish that I knew this little tip before meeting up with any businesses that required my signature. It's such a little effort that could have saved me, well, pretty much 22k.



  1. Just be sure to tell them you're recording. Some places (Illinois) it's illegal to record if they don't know it.

    SUCKS about the school, ugh that's so much money. I would be livid.
    As far as being able to name the school, look up the case law (via google) on yelp defamation suits. You do have quite a bit of leeway, but you still need to be careful in your wording.

  2. Really?! I always assumed it's legal in many places. In Canada, you're free to record all your conversations (even if the other party isn't aware) but it'll be illegal to record conversations that isn't yours (like planting a device in your neighbor's kitchen). I guess it's still an issue of privacy to record someone without their consent.

    I've heard soooo much about those lawsuits against Yelp reviewers and I just Googled them, and most of them pretty much said your review has to be honest, own opinions, no emotions and no exaggerated lies. I thought I was well within the lines, drawing from actual experiences from the school buuuut who knows, maybe the school was just trying to scare me, haha. Ughhh, sooo done with this school :( #RIP22k
    But thank you for the little tip on Googling yelp reviewers! Negative reviews are so tricky nowadays.


Hi! Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog; I really do appreciate it and love reading the comments I receive from you guys! ♥