It took the Consumer Affairs Agency long enough. From the Yomiuri Shimbun:
The Consumer Affairs Agency and the Tokyo metropolitan government on Thursday ordered a Tokyo-based English-language conversation school chain operator to suspend operations due to its coercive method of selling its services to university students and others.
Fortress Japan talked customers into signing contracts for the purchase of English-learning programs, often telling students, "You'll never be able to find work with your current English-language abilities."
The authorities issued the order based on the Specified Commercial Transactions Law.
A consumer organization certified by the prime minister filed a lawsuit last year arguing that Fortress Japan's way of soliciting customers was against the law. Last March, the plaintiff and the company reached the first settlement of its kind in the nation.
There are seven consumer organizations across the nation certified by the prime minister to file lawsuits against companies over aggressive sales schemes. The certifications were introduced to discourage dubious or illegal sales schemes before damages proliferate.
But the authorities said Fortress Japan continued to use unlawful sales practices after the settlement, leading to the stricter punishment by the agency.
According to the news brief released by the Consumer Affairs Agency [PDF], Fortress Japan has been ordered to cease operations for 6 months from February 19 until August 18. During that time, they are not allowed to solicit new contracts, accept applications for lessons, or conclude any contracts.
I previously wrote about Fortress Japan breaking its promise not to be evil, but they just couldn't help themselves. The article offers this example:
Last April, a man in the Kansai region who was then a third-year university student was approached by a female employee of Fortress Japan in front of his university campus. She asked him to fill out a simple survey about English conversation and job-hunting activities.
He wrote his name and phone number on the sheet, and was frequently called about attending an introduction meeting.
He finally agreed to attend a meeting, but ended up being confined in a small room together with a male employee of the company for three hours and was cajoled into signing a contract for lessons.
When the student tried to refuse, the employee looked down at him and demanded he sign the contract, telling him, "You'll never survive in the business world with such a carefree attitude."
Unbelievable. While it's good that the Consumer Affairs Agency put an end to Fortress Japan, consumers need to wise up and grow a backbone.