Some University of Technology (UTech) students have been left fuming, as they feel they have been scammed out of thousands of dollars by a popular work and travel programme.
Jason Brown*, a first year Information Technology student, told THE STAR that he plans to seek the advice of a lawyer on how to proceed in the matter because he wants back the entire US$1,300 (J$167,856) he gave to the work and travel programme to get a job for him this year.
He said he discovered last month that the company did not submit the required documents for him to go on the programme, and have now refused to give him a full refund. He said he is not alone, as he knows of at least five other persons who are now facing the same dilemma.
THE STAR understands that the work and travel company is to source a job for the applicant, then have the applicant sign the job offer form. The company would then submit the job offer form to an overseas sponsor, for the sponsor to issue a 'Ds 2019 form' which is required for the applicant to be granted a J1 visa.
According to Brown, the work and travel company kept assuring him that they had sent off his job offer form to the sponsors. He also showed THE STAR documentation from the work and travel company where they assured him on multiple occasions that he would soon receive his Ds 2019 form.
Brown said he eventually contacted the sponsors directly to find out what was happening with his form.
"When I contacted the sponsor, they said [the work and travel company] didn't submit any job offer forms, and the job that I signed to is not on their system none at all. When I contact them [work and travel company] and asked for the full refund, they said they are not going to give me back the full refund. They are going to take 25 per cent and give me back 75," Brown explained.
He continued, "The work and travel company tried to justify the situation by saying there was no housing available, but I contacted another agency there and I contacted the employer that was on the job offer form, and they are saying housing is not an issue because housing is there."
Another UTech student told THE STAR that the same thing happened to him.
"I received a job offer from the work and travel company, and when I contacted the overseas sponsor that processes the job offer, they told me that there is nothing for me in their system. After that, I went to the work and travel programme office, and I told them that I wanted my full money back. They told me I can only receive 75 per cent," he said.
Although he does not want to settle for the 75 per cent refund, the student said he will have to do so, as he has to repay the loan he borrowed to go on the programme.
A clause in the company's contract says: "The client who is not placed in a job by May 15, 2017, as well as those who submitted a partial application will be refunded seventy five per cent of the programme fee paid to [the company]."
However the students argued that the company did not take the steps necessary to ensure they got a job, which they say is a breach of the contract.
Several calls to the company's cellular and land line numbers for a comment went unanswered.