A.G. Schneiderman Announces Settlement From Company That Targeted Chinese-Speaking Parents With False Advertisements For Academic Enrichment Program
Company Falsely Advertised That The Program Would Boost Children’s Academic Level By Three Grade Levels; Failed to Provide Promised Tutoring Services
Company Will Pay $60,000 In Restitution; Stop False Advertising; And Reform Refund Policy
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently announced that his office reached a settlement agreement with a company that targeted Chinese-speaking parents with false advertising for a summer academic enrichment program for children. The company, Global Elites Network Xpeed Learning Academy (“Xpeed”) and its owner Maverick Bian will pay $60,000 in restitution to parents of children in the program. The settlement also requires the company and Mr. Bian to cease its deceptive advertising of the program and to make changes to the company’s refund policy.
“This company took advantage of parents’ natural desire to go the extra mile to help their children achieve academic success,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “These devoted parents spent thousands of dollars to try to help their children succeed. But Xpeed was a company that touted empty promises, squandering parents’ hard-earned money and their children’s limited academic time. I am pleased that we have been able to secure restitution for these affected families, while also sending a message that this type of conduct will not be tolerated.”
“I want to thank Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and his team for bringing this company that exploited vulnerable immigrant families to justice. I hope this settlement will send a loud and clear message to all businesses preying on susceptible communities: Don’t make promises you can’t keep! I will continue to work with my Assembly and Senate colleagues on measures to better protect students and parents, including more oversight and proper vetting for these kinds of educational entities,” said Assemblymember Ron Kim.
Xpeed advertised in Chinese-language media, promising that its 2015 summer program would boost children’s academic level by three grade levels in just eight weeks; transform poor-performing students into top students; enable children to complete high school by the age of 10; and even turn all children into “child prodigies” using a special new learning methodology and one-on-one tutoring. Xpeed also promised intensive SAT tutoring for high school students.
The Attorney General’s Office investigation revealed that the company was unable to provide substantiation for the miraculous results promised in its advertisements. Moreover, the 2015 summer program failed to provide the promised one-on-one tutoring at the start of the program, and provided virtually no SAT tutoring at the largest Xpeed site, in Flushing, Queens. In addition, the program failed to provide any group instruction. Instead, children at each of the program’s six sites were told to spend hours engaged in “independent-study” using haphazardly-chosen educational computer “apps.” The college students hired as “tutors” were provided with virtually no training in any special “learning methodology.”
Parents typically paid more $3000 for the 2015 summer program, and some parents paid as much as $8000. When parents discovered that the program did not provide the promised services, many parents lodged complaints, withdrew their children from the program, and requested refunds. However, the company refused to provide refunds to any of the dozens of parents who requested refunds. Around 30 parents lodged complaints with New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim’s office and the Attorney General’s Office.
In addition to requiring the company to pay $60,000 for restitution to parents of children enrolled in the summer 2015 Xpeed program, the settlement requires the company to end its false advertising of the program and reform its refund policies to ensure that parents who withdraw children from the program in the future will be able to obtain refunds.
If you were a parent of a child enrolled in the 2015 Xpeed summer program and you have not already filed a complaint with our office, you can file a complaint online at: https://forms.ag.ny.gov/CIS/consumer-complaints.jsp. Please submit your complaint by September 1, 2016.
Attorney General Schneiderman would like to thank New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim for his assistance in this matter.
This investigation was handled by Special Counsel Carolyn Fast and Deputy Bureau Chief Laura Levine, under the supervision of Jane Azia, Bureau Chief of the Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice Manisha Sheth.