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Reclaim course fees - AA/BSM for training / support to become a driving instructor


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Seeking a career change after accepting a redundancy from my previous position as headteacher, I paid approx. £2k to the AA/BSM for training / support to become a driving instructor, with a view to becoming an AA driving school franchisee. 

 

From my research I had assumed that it would take about a year to complete the training and I had planned to subsidise myself from my savings and supply teaching. 

 

Unfortunately, mandatory requirements to obtain disclosures and register with the dvsa took much longer than anticipated as did the time it would take to book a slot to sit the part 1 theory aspect of the course. 

 

It was clear that my budget would not be sufficient to support my family with the length of time that my training was in all likelihood going to take. In response to this information it was clear that I would need to look for more teaching work. 

 

I received an offer of work on a 24 month contract commencing August 2021 in Hong Kong which was too good to refuse and this would require me to travel out there mid-July 2021.

 

I contacted the coordinator of AA training and explained my situation; that in spite of my firm initial intentions to complete the training I had been forced to re-evaluate what I was doing because of the unforeseen impact of the coronavirus pandemic. After this discussion the AA agreed to suspend my training until I returned from Hong Kong.

 

Although I initially accepted this I reconsidered and made contact again to suggest that £2k was a lot of money to pay out and leave sitting and with a number of outlay costs when I would arrive in Hong Kong it would be of great help to have this money refunded to help with these.

 

In spite of the course coordinator asking me to email a request to seek a refund I have been refused.

 

The AA terms and conditions do indicate that all fees paid are non refundable but am of the opinion that this year has been such an unpredictable year with the pandemic creating difficulties with being able to even get started on the course that there should be a greater level of flexibility in their application. With no formal training yet received I think that the AA’s position is unfair. 

 

Should I continue to request a refund?

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  • dx100uk changed the title to Reclaim course fees - AA/BSM for training / support to become a driving instructor

did you pay the whole lot upfront?

 

Driving Instructor Training Courses | AA Driving School (theaa.com)

 

how far are you into it?

 

 

dx

 

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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As the training was for you the qualify as a self employed driving instructor I suspect it is a business-to-business contract, not a consumer contract. Is that stated in the documentation or by AA/BSM?

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I paid it all by up front in September. As it stands I have received some text books and nothing more.

I can’t begin the driving training properly until I pass the theory test which is something that students arrange independently. 

 

In all the excitement I can’t recall the t’s and c’s

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OK, just to clarify then, if you had successfully completed the training you would have worked as a self-employed driving instructor? ie you would be running your own one-person business, not an employee of AA/BSM? If I recall correctly you would have been in business on your own account running a BSM Franchise? That's the way it used to work when I had some involvement with them years ago (not as a driving instructor).

 

The reason I am asking is because some of the law applying to consumer contracts can be different to the law applying to business-to-business contracts.

Edited by Ethel Street
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its a franchise so self employment 

see the link i posted earlier

 

one of its bit says.

 

Have you got what it takes?

Our mission is to guide you, at your own pace, to become a qualified DVSA approved driving instructor.

  • Have a calm and patient manner and enjoy teaching others?
  • Professional, organised and disciplined?
  • Want to be your own boss?
  • Willing to work hard to develop your own business?

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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My hope was that the impact of covid on my ability to progress with the training and hence my need to change my plans might be reason to not be so rigid in their application of the t’s & c’s. 
 

 

 

Are the T’s & C’s fair? That’s really what I’m asking. 

Edited by gaterguts1
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I see that the page dx100 linked has a link to the standard t&c and it includes this clause

 

1.2 The Driving Instructor Training provided under this Agreement is provided for the purposes of Your trade, profession or business and your status as a customer will be interpreted accordingly.

 

So I think definitely B2B contract.

 

I guess this is the clause you referred to in Post #1

 

11.2 After the cooling off period referred to in paragraph 10.1 You may cancel the Agreement but no refund will then be due from Us to You. After two (2) years of the date of the Agreement any training not already taken will be forfeited.

 

I suspect that as it's a B2B contract there is nothing that is, legally, 'unfair' about it and you would be reliant on their goodwill. But I'm not a lawyer so will be interested to see what the experts here think.

Edited by Ethel Street
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where are they i can't find them??

1 hour ago, gaterguts1 said:

The AA terms and conditions do indicate that all fees paid are non refundable

 

but that might not be the end of it no..

 

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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4 hours ago, gaterguts1 said:

...

 

I contacted the coordinator of AA training and explained my situation; that in spite of my firm initial intentions to complete the training I had been forced to re-evaluate what I was doing because of the unforeseen impact of the coronavirus pandemic. After this discussion the AA agreed to suspend my training until I returned from Hong Kong.

 

Although I initially accepted this I reconsidered and made contact again to suggest that £2k was a lot of money to pay out and leave sitting ...

 

Isn't this the problem - that the OP agreed to suspend the training and (presumably) agreed to allow AA/BSM to retain the £2k?

 

Isn't this like those people who've had a flight or holiday cancelled because of Covid?  Yes, they were entitled to a refund, but... if they've agreed to accept vouchers, or some other form of credit... where does that leave them?

 

And that's before deciding whether it's a consumer or business contract.

 

Although... despite what the T&Cs may say, they can't determine what is or is not a consumer contract, can they?  By definition the OP can't be carrying out a trade or a profession because he's not qualified to do so - that's the whole point of the training in the first place.  Or are we saying that all professional and trade examinations are business to business.  Law Society exams?  Accountancy exams?  Are they all B2B?

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What troubles me is had the op not paid upfront, nothing more would be owed ... A blanket clause in the t&c's is grossly unfair 

 

i would like to think the AA had a bit of common sense here

 

whatever type of contract it is.

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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I’ve just sent the course coordinator a message.....

”What bothers me mostly is if I hadn’t paid all of the money up front then I could’ve withdrawn with nothing more to pay...but as it is I paid full fees upfront and so receive nothing if I withdraw. The blanket “no refund” just seems to be so unfair. I’m disappointed that there hasn’t been a consideration of a pro-rata refund. 
I’m really sorry Mark but I feel that given the amount of money involved that I’ve got no option but to escalate my request and seek support from other agencies. Eg BBC watchdog etc. 
I stress this isn’t personal...I just don’t feel that if our positions were reversed that you would accept this situation.”

 

I’m ever hopeful of reason and manners sorting things out.

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13 hours ago, Manxman in exile said:

Although... despite what the T&Cs may say, they can't determine what is or is not a consumer contract, can they?  By definition the OP can't be carrying out a trade or a profession because he's not qualified to do so - that's the whole point of the training in the first place.  Or are we saying that all professional and trade examinations are business to business.  Law Society exams?  Accountancy exams?  Are they all B2B?

 

The contract can't be definitive, I agree. Ultimately a court would have to decide whether OP entered into a contract as a consumer or a trader. OP would have to show that they were a consumer as defined in the Consumer Rights Act to get the protection of consumer law - "“Consumer” means an individual acting for purposes that are wholly or mainly outside that individual’s trade, business, craft or profession.".  The comparison with law and accounantancy would be with companies providing the training rather than the exam setters, but I'd say they are B2B contracts.  In what way could studying to be a qualified accountant be a consumer activity under the CRA definition? 

 

I guess, none of us being lawyers, OP would need to get professional legal advice if he wanted to challenge the status of the contract as a B2B one and so gain the protection on consumer law.

 

I will be interested to see what AA/BSM say about the unfairness of losing all the money if you pay up front but not if you pay by installments.

Edited by Ethel Street
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I suppose that what seems counterintuitive to me is that if you need to hold a particular qualification before you can practise or engage in a particular profession or trade, that the provision of training to gain the required qualification(s) should be seen as practising or carrying out that profession or trade - and hence a business transaction - even though the trainee can't yet be doing so.

 

Does that mean that the provision of all strictly "non-educational" training for the purpose of gaining a professional or "trade" qualification is to be treated as B2B?

 

I simply have difficulty getting my head around the idea that training can be within an "... individual’s trade, business, craft or profession" when the individual is prevented from practising any trade etc precisely because they do not yet hold the required qualifications and that is why they are training in the first place.

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I see where you are coming from Manxman. The difficulty for me is that the CRA only defines two types of contracting party - a 'consumer' or a 'trader' - and they are miror image definitions. You can only be one or the other, there's no middle ground where you can be a 'not-yet-a-trader-but-a-not- a-consumer-either'.

 

(2)“Trader” means a person acting for purposes relating to that person’s trade, business, craft or profession, whether acting personally or through another person acting in the trader’s name or on the trader’s behalf.

(3)“Consumer” means an individual acting for purposes that are wholly or mainly outside that individual’s trade, business, craft or profession.

 

I find it equally counterintuitive how someone training to be a DI/Solicitor/Accountant/Doctor etc could be doing it as a 'consumer'. The consumer of a Dr's professional services must surely be a patient, not a trainee Doctor? Likewise for Driving Instructors or any other occupation?

 

We are agreed though that ultimately only a court could decide whether OP contracted as a consumer or a trader.

Edited by Ethel Street
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An unqualified doctor is the consumer of the organisation providing their medical training - likewise unqualified solicitors and accountants.  Once that trainee has qualified, they are permitted to practise their profession and to provide their services to unsuspecting consumers of those services.

 

If a trainee fails all their exams and thus is unable to qualify to practise their profession, are we saying that whilst training they are acting in a trade or profession even though as a point of fact they never actually reach the point of doing so?

 

I'm not saying my view is the correct one - just that I see a significant difference between being engaged in training in preparation to join a trade a trade or profession, and actually practising that trade or profession.  In terms of relative bargaining power, knowledge etc, the position of an unqualified trainee is really no more advantageous then that of a consumer.

 

Much as I hate the idea of seeing undergraduates as consumers of degree services provided by universities, I don't think professional trainees are any less consumers, except that the former are mostly being educated (sometimes with an element of training) and the latter are mostly being trained (often with an element of education).

 

I must admit I'd never really thought about this before reading this thread, and the idea that training to qualify to do a job was a business transaction had really never struck me.

 

What would you say was the position of an undergraduate student straight out of school starting a nursing degree?  Is that a business transaction from the law's point of view, or a consumer one?

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Posted (edited)

Interesting discussion, at what point does general education morph into professional training? I guess each case that comes before a court is fact-specific although I imagine that if OP were to consult a solicitor there's probably prior court decisions that give guidance on how courts approach the consumer or trader test. 

 

So as not to drift too far from OP's situation the AA/BSM clearly believe OP is contracting in the course of his business and the clause in their standard T&C adopts the langauge of the 'trader' definition in the CRA1.2 The Driving Instructor Training provided under this Agreement is provided for the purposes of Your trade, profession or business and your status as a customer will be interpreted accordingly. As it seems to be the basis of their business model that the people in OP's position are a business they are unlikely to agree that OP is a consumer unless OP goes to law and either finds a solicitor willing to argue the case or starts a court action himself.

 

Let's see what OP says when he gets a reply from AA/BSM about the full -vs- installments payments issue. I wondered if the standard T&C included a clause that said that installment plan payers had to pay the full amount immediately if they cancelled but I couldn't see anything like that in the T&C. There could be other payment plan documentation that covers it.

 

Another thought @gaterguts1Have you researched the government guidance on coronavirus for anything advising businesses to be flexible? Being able to cite government guidance should carry more weight than just you saying it. Unfortunately there's a lot of guidance and I'm not sure where you'd start.

Edited by Ethel Street
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Thank you for this. I had hoped for a more common sense response from the AA/BSM before now. It looks as though I’m going to need to take a good look through the coronavirus guidance from the gov. and see what might be applicable in my case. 

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On 01/01/2021 at 11:27, Ethel Street said:

 

Let's see what OP says when he gets a reply from AA/BSM about the full -vs- installments payments issue. I wondered if the standard T&C included a clause that said that installment plan payers had to pay the full amount immediately if they cancelled but I couldn't see anything like that in the T&C. There could be other payment plan documentation that covers it.

 

 

 

I wondered about that as well.  I thought that there might be something in the T&Cs to say that the FULL amount was payable - not just whatever the trainee had paid to date.  But I can't see anything either.  The T&Cs don't seem very comprehensive to be honest - I'm surprised they aren't more detailed.

 

I think the consumer/business distinction is quite interesting, but agree it may be a distraction here.

 

Having a varied academic and professional history myself and also having been involved in the commissioning and monitoring of training contracts for non-medical NHS clinical staff, I probably take a particular interest in such questions.

 

Generally I'm quite clear about where education ends and training starts!

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