i-to-i travel/TEFL courses and placement
Complaint 36661 Details

  • Date Occurred: 01/02/2010
  • Reported Damages: $4,500.00
  • !

The complaint is against an online dating profile

The complaint is a listing fraud posted on public forums or sites against an anonymous entity

The complaint is mobile text spam or smishing related against an anonymous entity

The company or person contact no longer exists

International boundaries

Hi all, for anyone thinking of doing a TEFL course and placement with i-to-i, here is a report on my experiences with them. I've put this on a couple of other branches, so apologies if you've seen it before. These are just my experiences - I don't promise you'll experience the same!

Well my experience with i-to-i has unfortunately finished premmaturely, and I'm afraid to say that I feel it was down to their ineptitude. I'll explain in more detail:

My girlfriend and I are going back to Uni in mid-August, having worked for the last year. We wanted to finish our working year with something fun, but without spending too much money. Also, we didn't want to commit to six or twelve months contracts (which is what most companies require), but something more in the 'summer holidays' sort of timespan. When we came accross i-to-i and their teaching placements, it seemed too good to be true; a teaching placement in Vietnam, a pretty good monthly salary (especially compared to living costs out there), a TEFL online qualification, accomodation sorted out and paid for, support in and out of country, a reimbursement on some of the cost of flights, and only a three month commitment. This was nothing short of perfect for our needs, and the £600 fee is very reasonable, I think, for what is promised. We had numerous conversations with i-to-i in January before booking, as we had quite specific needs that we wanted to be sure could be met: we needed to start in May so that we could be done by August to start Uni, we wanted to teach and live together (a preference, not a necessity), and we needed to have a definite confirmation of everything by April, as our employers required a month's notice on our resignations. I-to-i assured us all of that was no problem at all. Incidently, were it not for our very specific needs, we wouldn't have gone through a company at all, but would've have set up our whole trip by ourselves. However, with our time and monetry restrictions, we were attracted to the idea of knowing exactly what we'd pay, and almost exactly what we'd get.

At the same time we also did as much research on the internet as possible to find opinions on the company. General opinions came from people doing their gap years who did volunteer work for a few weeks (as well as teaching placements, i-to-i also offers 'meaningful travel experiences' - volunteering, basically). There weren't many reviews, some were ok, but most were bad. Looking closer at the reviews though led us to question the credibility of the reviewers - most were straight out of school, and looking for a trip where everything would be taken care of. Then, when something - usually something out of i-toi's control - went wrong the source of their disappointment was that i-to-i weren't able to make it right within days. For example, one girl got bitten by a rabid dog in Africa, and was outraged that her i-to-i in-country co-ordinator was not able to rush her straight to hospital (despite living in a completely different town). It seemed most bad reviews came from naive and inexperienced people, who had perhaps never travelled before, and who expected a month volunteering in a remote African village to go as swimmingly as a weekend trip to Paris. That was our impression anyway, and so whilst we kept the complaints in mind, we decided not to let it put us off. It was difficult to find any reviews on the teaching placement scheme. With the reassurances from i-to-i, as well as their ability to answer all of our very specific questions quite capably, we thought we'd take the plunge.

We were fully signed up and paid up, and had all our application materials in on February 21st, and received a confirmation e-mail the same day saying we'd be contacted by the in-country co-ordinator in Vietnam within 28 days, to arrange a telephone interview. We started our online TEFL course, and all was going well, all the while researching Vietnam, and getting more and more excited. 21 days came and went, and so we phoned up i-to-i to see if were still going to be contacted. We were getting a little worried that we only had a couple of weeks before we needed to get our resignation letters in. There was also only 6 weeks left now to go, plane tickets were getting more expensive as we waited longer to book, and we still had visas to get before then (the in country co-ordinator does half your application in-country, posts it to you, and you finish it off and go to the Vietnamese embassy - it's supposed to take two weeks from when you hand in the forms to the embassy). I-to-i again reassured us that there was still plenty of time to get everything done. We figured that since this was what the company did day in day out, they must know a thing or two, and so if they said everything was under control, we figured it must be, despite our nervousness.

So up came 28 days, and still no e-mail from Vietnam, and no phonecall. I'd called i-to-i a few times in the week (speaking to the same person every time - the person in charge of the teaching abroad scheme) to alert them to this. I spoke to them again on the 28 day deadline. I was told the in-country co-ordinator in Vietnam was on holiday in China. Not very helpful, and presumably something that must have been known a while before. If they knew our 28 day deadline fell within their holiday period, why not either pre-warn us, or just sort it out before their holiday? I finally got an e-mail three days later from Vietnam, asking when was convenient to call (I'd already told i-to-i when was convenient, as they had asked so that they could pass on the information to the Vietnamese office, so I don't know what happened there). I replied immediately (this was on Monday 26th MArch, in case anyone's losing track of the days). I had to have my resignation letter in by that Friday.

I-to-i were terrible at returning my calls. I'd phone repeatedly, leaving messages, from early in the morning (I have a desk job, so it was easy for me to keep calling). It would often get to 4 or 5pm, I'd have called several times and left several messages. I'd call one last time at the end of the day and finally get through to the co-ordinator who would always say she was just about to phone me back. I never heard anything more from the Vietnamese co-ordinator, despite phoning i-to-i every day that week. On Friday, with my resignation letter printed out and ready to hand in, I phoned i-to-i to ask what on earth I should do. Should I risk resigning without definitely having another job to go to come May, or should I just pull out of the program? Well, they didn't have to advise me in the end. The response I got was that they had spoken to the co-ordinator in Vietnam that morning, and there were no spaces left to teach in May, but I could start in June. They knew very well that I absolutely could not start in June, hence my frantic calling all the time to sort out the MAy placement, so it was just insulting and ignorant to even ask.

Apparently May in Vietnam is exam period, so there is no real need for teachers. I don't know why they didn't know this when I first applied. Or in any of the weeks they spoke to me after I had applied. Back in February I was told that there were 'loads of teaching jobs in May in Vietnam', but surely the exam period is the same every year, and surely they must have known this before last Friday. I tried to get answers, but I was rushed off the phone and told I'd receive a full refund (which, 7 days later I am still waiting for). To be honest I was too heart-broken and too shell-shocked to argue or press further for answers.

Now that I've accepted I'm not going, and gotten over the disappointment, I am just livid. I'm angry at the deplorable service I routinely received on the simplest of matters. I'm frustrated I wasted a month and a half working through an online course, researching Vietnam, and getting so excited about it. I'm frustrated that I was told literally at the last moment that I couldn't go. I annoyed that I now have only a month to arrange a new trip - not enough time to find and research another company and another project and/or country.

We're still going away for the summer, we're just going to backpack around SAE now. We won't be getting paid though, we won't be gaining a qualification, and we won't be getting the experience of teaching English abroad. And for all our troubles, all we get is a refund. I never once got an apology from the co-ordinator. No apologies for routinely failing to return my calls, and certainly no apology for completely failing in her job and her contractual obligation to me. No apology for wasting mine and my girlfriend's time for a month and a half, and no apology for ruining our summer plans at the last second.

So there is my side of the story, and my opinions, for anyone who is interested in them. Sadly I won't be able to report on the teaching abroad experience with them, obviously. I haven't named the teaching english co-ordinator or the Viatnamese in-country co-ordinator, but I will do so happily if anyone is planning on dealing with i-to-i and would like to know - just pm me.

On a side note, and possibly reflecting the ethics of i-to-i as a company: my close friend from Uni went with i-to-i on the teaching English placement to Honduras. He left in March. After four weeks however, he had to leave the placement. The school could not afford to pay his wages, but they valued his education more than that of their own native teachers, so they sacked some of their teachers so they could keep him on. They were gonig to sack more, but he found out about it all, and decided to leave as he felt it was morally wrong to stay (and I agree) - also, these teachers that were being sacked were also now his friends since he had been working with them. I can't comment on specifics, since I wasn't there of course, so this is very much secondhand information. I will vouch that the story is true of course, I just can't offer anymore details - I heard about this in an e-mail he wrote me. He's now picked up some bar work whilst he looks to find some teaching work of his own. The teachers that got sacked have been given their jobs back now that he's left. Again, this is just secondhand information. Perhaps this is more a reflection of the school than of i-to-i. Perhaps i-to-i will choose not to deal with this school anymore, or perhaps they will. I don't know, but I'm just offering this scrap of information for people to interpret or investigate further as they wish. Personally, I am through with i-to-i, so will not be looking into this story further. I never want to hear about i-to-i ever again!

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Business Profile Summary

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Company Statistics

  • Complaint Against i-to-i travel/TEFL courses and placement
  • Complaints Filed: 1
  • Reported Damages: $4,500.00
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