The International Ecotourism Society Scam.
Updated: Oct 18
In 2018 I naively signed up for a course through The International Ecotourism Society (TIES).
18 months on, TIES have my money, haven't refunded what they said they would, have ignored my emails, blocked me on social media and left me with absolutely zero course accreditation. So here's my story, in the HOPE that if you're considering taking up their course on teachable, you rethink. It's also a word of warning for all courses done through teachable. I will update if I get refunded by £258 (that I desperately need...)
TIES was an internationally recognised ecotourism organisation. I read about them at University, studied them and at the end of 2018 decided that I wanted to learn directly from an organisation that I so respected. They had an offer on, so I jumped in. Now, this signing up process was not easy. The deadline to pay changed, it came forward... I should have sensed alarm bells.
However, the payment went through and I excitedly waited for the course. And waited...
I was supposed to start in September. February came around and the excuse was that TIES were updating their website. I was spooked... The time period that I had set myself to do the course slowly evaporated. Emails passed between myself and Melissa, the education officer. I was really disappointed to have put a huge investment in such a shambles, and she offered free short courses worth $18 whilst I waited, or I could have a refund. Then, just as I left for a trip to Australia, the course appeared. The first course, ironically, was free to attend. So I worked my way through the content.
At the end of the notes (much of which was simply a reading list for free to access content from around the web) I was told to email and ask for the exam. So I emailed and waited for my exam. And waited.
This situation seemed familiar! Yet again, waiting for TIES to respond... I never got the exam.
So, in May 2019, I asked for my refund. I felt like the course was not AT ALL what was promised. It had been disorganised to say the least and then actually had not given me what I had paid for. On the 03/07/2019, Melissa- the education officer at TIES agreed to process a refund. I was super relieved.
Today is 20/04/2020. I have never received my money back. I have contacted many times including:
- Emails to many contacts at TIES, ALL of which go unanswered.
- I have called their head office in USA office hours and been hung up on quickly.
- I have messaged and commented on their facebook profiles and been blocked.
- I have written an official complaint to the US NGO's complaints service only to be told they couldn't process it for some legal reasons.
- I have contacted Citizens Advice in the UK to take legal action against TIES to get my money back, that I absolutely desperately need. Because I paid directly to TIES and they're based in The USA they can't help.
- I have contacted Teachable, who said because again I paid directly, they can't and won't help.
- There is ZERO reviews for the course or even discussion about the course. Red flag?
So a few things to take away from me being scammed by TIES for £250+.
- Question why there is zero feedback on the course online.
- Question why TIES has over 80,000 likes on Facebook but VERY VERY low engagement.
- Question the ethics of me being blocked when questioning why I haven't got my refund. (Who else is in this situation?)
- Question Teachable- and how they can let this happen? How many other people around the globe are falling into essentially a scam? Please read more about "Aggie's teachable scam" for a similar story about teachable.
I am so so disappointed with TIES. Every time I think about this course and my lost £250 I get insane anxiety. All I can think is, the longer the refund takes, the more likely it is that this programme is fraudulent. To TIES, a huge international organisation, the money is nothing. To me, it is ALOT. I paid with my hard earn savings.
I feel 100% silenced and ignored.
If you've had similar experiences with TIES or teachable, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog piece reflects a students experience of education through TIES. The objective is to honestly review this programme to enable other students to make informed decisions about entering into contracted and paid for courses. Please do not share the contents of this blog without express permission from Making Roots. This blog post was originally written in April 2020, but I briefly took down the blog in October 2020. However the content of this blog is honest and I hope it can help others. Please see also, the update.