BYJU’s, a leading education technology company, faces the tasks of handling customer disputes on refunds and deficiency of services, parents being pushed into debt burden, and unsatisfied employees who were bullied with aggressive targets, the latest BBC report says.
Byju Raveendran is the founder of the world’s highest-valued edtech start-up. It is funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and major private equity firms such as Tiger Global and General Atlantic.
The pandemic led to closure of schools and pushed children into online classes. The sudden shift made both children and parents anxious — presenting BYJU’s with an ideal market.
Many parents said the edtech giant’s promised services never materialised. This includes its one-on-one tutoring and mentor.
Moreover, the company’s sales tactics included incessant cold calls and sales pitches whose effect was to convince them that their child will be left behind if they don’t buy a BYJU’S product. The disgruntled parents allege they were misled by sales agents, who would be least bothered for a refund, once a sale is done.
According to education experts, the hard sales tactics gave rise to parents’ insecurities, and added to their debt burden.
BYJU’s denied the allegations and in a statement to BBC, it said only if the student and parent sees value in our product and develop trust do they purchase it.
BBC probed former BYJU former employees who complained of pushy managers, and a high-pressure sales culture that emphasised aggressive targets, all which took a toll on their mental health.
Several employees complained that 12-15 hour work days were a regular feature of their job, and staff who couldn’t clock 120 minutes of talk-time with potential customers were marked absent, resulting in loss of pay for that day.
BYJU’S, however, said that their employee culture does not permit any misbehaviour or bad behaviour towards parents and that all rigorous checks and balances are in place to prevent misuse and abuse.
“All organizations have rigorous but fair sales targets and BYJU’s is no exception. They are mindful of employees’ health and comfort and they offered a robust training program.”
Consumer courts in India have ordered BYJU’S to pay damages to customers in disputes related to refunds and deficiency of services in at least three different cases.
The online tutoring firm also has hundreds of complaints against it in online consumer and employee forums. But, BYJU’s noted that they had reached a settlement in these legal cases, and their grievance redressal rate was 98 percent.