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February 19, 2010

English language school ordered to close because of coercive sales practices


Fortress Japan, which operates English language schools under various names around Japan, has been ordered to suspend operations by the Consumer Affairs Agency and the Tokyo metropolitan government. Last spring, the company admitted using coercive sales practices in the Osaka District Court and promised to offer refunds and halt its unlawful practices, but, in fact, carried on in the same way as before.

The Daily Yomiuri reports: 'The Kansai Consumers Support Organization ... said Fortress Japan solicited students who gathered at job interview meetings, telling the students that they could attend the schools' lectures any time at their convenience without any limit on the number of classes. The company had the students sign contracts for eight-to 10-month courses for 500,000 yen to 600,000 yen. But the lectures were offered only on limited dates and some students complained they could attend lectures only about once a month.'

The Daily Yomiuri also gave the following example: 'Last April, a man in the Kansai region who was then a third-year university student was approached by a female employee of Fortress Japan in front of his university campus. She asked him to fill out a simple survey about English conversation and job-hunting activities. He wrote his name and phone number on the sheet, and was frequently called about attending an introduction meeting.

He finally agreed to attend a meeting, but ended up being confined in a small room together with a male employee of the company for three hours and was cajoled into signing a contract for lessons. When the student tried to refuse, the employee looked down at him and demanded he sign the contract, telling him, "You'll never survive in the business world with such a carefree attitude."

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