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Consumer Affairs Agency Shuts Down Fortress Japan

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.

Eikaiwa: 

Comments

"Fortress Japan" tactics are indeed disgraceful. Still, I wish some people would get some backbone and either refuse to go to the said introduction meeting or just simply walk out of the meeting if they don't like what they hear.

I understand that sales people can be tough negotiaters but to sign a contract for something you don't want is just plain stupid.

I'd like the sales staff pull that stunt on some big burly Australian or American. Only in Japan can sales staff get away with such behaviour.

Actually, the hard sell originated in the USA, and that is still where pressure sales tactics are most successful. So it would appear the most Americans are not burly. Or maybe just weak minded, I don't know.

When I was working in Walmart, the only job I could find fresh out of college, LOL, thanks to that nasty sub-prime mortgage crisis, yes lil ole me, working in Walmart, LOL, well, hmm, I never dreamed I would soon be employed full-time as a professional Cultural Ambassador for a major Japanese Corporation.

Yes, fancy that, LOL, lil ole me, a Cultural Ambassador, posted in a division of GEOS Corporation, in JAPAN of all places.

Heavens to Betsy, LOL, you people don’t seem to realize what a good thing you have got.

I will never leave GEOS, least of all, to work in a place like Walmart.

LOL! I just love my life now.

I really get to do things here, and I live in a far away and exotic place, and LOL, they even helped set me up in a great new apartment!

Sushi anyone? Anyone care for some sake? LOL LOL !

And the festivals, LOL, I just can't find the words to describe this place....hmmm.....LOL....I know "Supercalafragalisticexpialadoshus" ! LOL! LOL ! It's all just so fascinating !

Smile, and the whole world will smile with you !

LOL! LOL!

GEOS, I thank you, with all my heart !

LADY LADY LADY LOVE

First, lady lady, wrong blog. You want one of the "Geos going bust" ones.

Second, this sounds like the kind of hard sell that was going on in all eikaiwa around the end of the 90s and early 00s. Students being locked in "interview rooms" until they signed contracts. This was supposedly outlawed way back in 2002.
Hopefully it'll be a lesson to others, but I suspect not.

Wrong Blog? Uh? LOL ! Silly me ! I must admit, I have had a glass of sake. Hiccup ! Oops ! LOL ! Time for some more of this delicious Japanese Sushi, bye, hiccup ! LOL !

Lady Lady Lady Love

And please check the script of Mary Poppins to ensure correct spelling.

Sorry wrong site I think you want gaijinpot.com

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