Go to contents

US Evaluation Board Says “Regulation Can`t Be Changed”

US Evaluation Board Says “Regulation Can`t Be Changed”

Posted February. 03, 2002 01:48,   


The Fair Trade Commission pointed out that there are suspicions about the refund policy of the US Educational Testing Services (ETS), which is the managing organization of TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language), being unfair at the end of last year. ETS expressed its position that existing refund regulation cannot be changed. The ETS is drawing much criticism as a result.

ETS stated in an open letter of explanation which was delivered to the Fair Trade Commission by the Korea-US education commission, which is the domestic TOEFL agency, on the 1st,"The refund regulation that the application fee should be borne for canceling the test and an additional fee should be paid for delay is required to manage additional work." And "This regulation applies to every country where TOEFL is offered. Therefore, we are to maintain the policy in Korea as well."

The Fair Trade Commission will investigate the letter of explanation and the refund policy closely in case it can confirm suspicion of unfair agreement. It will issue an order for immediate correction should this be confirmed.

The Fair Trade Commission investigated for three months since last September on actual conditions of TOEFL, TOEIC, TEPS, etc because of continuous complaints that the refund regulation is one-sided and unfavorable for applicant.

The Fair Trade Commission informed three test organizations on the first of last December that there is suspicion of unfair agreement in refund regulation and to submit letters of explanation.

The International Exchange Promotion group, which supervises TOEIC in Korea, and the Seoul National University TEPS headquarters expressed their intention to carry out immediate investigation of the refund regulation to the Fair Trade Commission.

However, ETS which controls TOEFL told that the refund regulation which applies everywhere cannot be changed only in Korea.

The Korea-U.S education commission stated, "It is ETS`s final decision that although various measures are under consideration for the sake of the convenience of the applicant, Korea should abide by the refund regulation."

Currently, in the case of TOEFL, if an applicant cancels three days before the test, 65 dollars is refunded from 110 dollars and in case of delay, an extra fee of 40 dollars is being charged.

Also, for TOEIC, in case of cancellation or delay after closing of receipt, 15,000 won, which is half of the 30,000 won application, is refunded as coupon.

For TEPS, in case of cancellation within 2 weeks after closing of receipt, 14,000 won after deducting 11,000 won from 25,000 won application fee is refunded.

The Fair Trade Commission will form an assessment committee and will examine the refund regulations of the three tests.

If the FTC judges the regulation as unfair agreement, it will order corrections to present organizations for improving the agreement and increasing the refund amount.

An official in the FTC said, "In case we issue a correction order, formal objections within 60 days is possible. If the appeal is rejected, they may be sentenced to penal service up to 2 years or issued a fine under 10 million won."

However, although the Fair Trade Commission gives order for correction, it is unknown whether the worldwide ETS will accept it or not.

The possibility that the ETS might file a case against the order cannot be discounted.

Experts worry that if the ETS does file a suit, the situation may become a diplomatic conflict between Korea and the U.S, and if both sides fail to negotiate, the worst result may be that ETS stops providing TOEFL in Korea.

An official of the Fair Trade Commission said, "It is a matter of principle that domestic and international companies and organizations abide by the correction order regarding unfair agreements which harms domestic consumers. The order will be carried out to rectify the wrong treatment of applicants."

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com