Online education firm Shaw Academy has undertaken to refund $50,000 to Australian students who took up its ‘free trial’ offer for courses but were later charged, even when they had tried to cancel.
The Ireland-based edtech offers online courses in tech subjects including coding, cyber security, web development, game development, computer science and data analytics.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) began investigating the edtech after receiving complaints from students claiming Shaw Academy had charged them for courses they had cancelled or had tried to cancel within their free trial period.
Shaw Academy had allegedly refused to refund these subscription fees.
After intervention by the ACCC, Shaw Academy agreed to refund 450 affected Australian customers approximately $50,000.
It has also undertaken to improving its systems to facilitate refunds.
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said it is important that “businesses offering subscription services allow consumers to cancel with as much ease as it took to sign up, particularly when they offer a free trial”.
The refunds will be automatically processed and returned to consumers, with the ACCC warning all businesses to have suitable processes in place.
“Businesses must have the necessary systems in place to handle cancellations of subscription services, including complaints or queries about cancellations,” Rickard added.
Affected consumers who have not heard from Shaw Academy about their refund should contact the company at email@example.com.
Shaw Academy was established in 2013 and has operations in India, South Africa, and the US. It claims to have 12 million students worldwide. It also offers courses in other disciplines such as marketing, photography, design, and music.
Information Age contacted Shaw Academy for comment but a spokesperson declined to comment further.