This has been a difficult and expensive lesson for me. I found this company through Petco.
I contacted ABTA with the specific goal of taking a course that would be helpful to me in the volunteer dog rescue work that I do and have done for years. I made it clear I have lots of experience with dogs and wanted specifically work at training dogs with the problems that abandoned and mistreated dogs usually have. I was told by the sales person I spoke to several times before signing on and by Jori Stahl (the student coordinator type person) that this would be the perfect course for me. I read about the team of involved trainers on the website and was convinced they were experienced people and exactly the type of teachers I wanted to learn from.
PLEASE NOTE that except for leaving messages for Jori Stahl (which were usually not returned) I had no contact at all with any instructors until I observed a 7 week Petco group class (of about 15 dogs and their owners) for one hour a week for seven weeks. There was no special training for me during these sessions and I would have learned more taking my own dogs to an obedience class (and paid a huge amount of money LESS than what this cost me).
I did speak to Jori Stahl again via an email exchange when I contacted ABTA about my dissatisfaction. At that time, she offered me a refund of about $400 based on charging me roughly $300 for each section of the course I had completed (I completed all but the final two 7 week observation sections which I'd learned were useless for me). I never did receive that refund. This was in February 2002.
I contacted the Better Business Bureau Online and filed a complaint. Jori Stahl called me about my report and said she was surprised I had not received my refund. We had a long conversation about my problems with the course and she offered a refund of approximately $975 (the $400 she said she thought I had received and another approximately $500). She also offered to arrange for me to work with private trainers handling difficult dogs in an effort to provide me with what I wanted to get out of the course to begin with.
She said she would call me back in three days. I told her I would wait for her call. She never called. Instead, I got a letter from her saying ABTA would refund me $432.21 and nothing more. This is very typical of my experience with this company. The course was oversold and misrepresented orally before I signed up and Jori again came to me by phone with an offer that would later be ignored in writing.
It seems I will not get any satisfaction from ABTA and I want to warn others about making the same expensive mistake that I made.
Contrary to what you will see on the website and hear from the sales persons, it's a notebook (typed double spaced and without any photos) containing information you could find in any book on dog training or you already know if you have any experience with dogs, a video which shows how to conduct an orientation of the 7 week Petco obedience course (and sell Petco products) and two cassettes which are some guy reading verbatim the material covered in one of the sections of the notebook. My tests were returned weeks after I'd completed them and with NO COMMENT by any instructor. I read the article, took open book tests and mailed them in. When I called to express my concerns about the program, my calls were ignored. I didn't get to speak to anyone until it was time to get the time and location of the Petco course I would observe.
I'm very sorry I was taken in by this company. Beware!
Sherman Oaks, California STOP! ..before you think about using the Better Business Bureau (BBB)... CLICK HERE to see how other consumers were victimized by the BBB's false or misleading information. Don't be fooled! It has been reported, when there are thousands of complaints and other investigations underway by authorities, the BBB has no choice but to finally give an UNsatisfactory rating to a BBB member business that is paying the BBB big membership fees every year. When a business is reported that is NOT a BBB member, BBB files WILL more likely show an UNsatisfactory rating, then reportedly shake down that company to become a member of the BBB. One positive thing about the BBB is, either way, if a business has an unsatisfactory rating with the BBB, you can be sure, the business is bad. But what about all those BBB member businesses that had complaints filed against them? Consumers never get to hear about them. What about the BBB advertising to the public? Is this a false and misleading perception they are giving about consumer confidence when dealing with a business? Click here to understand more of what consumers and business alike are saying about the BBB. You decide. ..Remember. The BBB membership is not earned, it's paid for!