I am a single mom of an 11 year old who has been out of work for quite some time so when I received a call from The Academic Advantage about a tutoring position paying $17/hr., I was ecstatic. The girl on the phone asked me a few situational type questions about tutoring, sort of like a phone interview, then told me a little about the company and asked if I would be interested. She asked me if I was familiar/had used a tablet laptop before. She explained that their tutors use a program called Learning With Laptops in which a tablet laptop is provided for the tutor and all lessons are taught to the student with it. I told her that I had not ever used one. She then told me that the other option would be a "paper based program" where I would be given various web sites and resources and would be responsible for printing out all of the materials needed for tutoring sessions. I told her that normally that would not be a problem but that my printer had stopped working a couple weeks prior and I wasn't sure when I would be able to afford to purchase a new one. So I opted for the Learning With Laptops program and told her, "I can use a computer. I'm a quick learner & fairly bright. I'll figure it out." She then told me that I needed to attend a 3 hour "new tutor orientation", that I would not be paid for, on Saturday, Jan. 12, which just so happened to be the weekend I was moving to a new place from a place I had been for 10 years. To say that weekend was stressful would be putting it mildly. Not wanting to be difficult to my new employer, I said, "Great, I'll be there." She told me I would be receiving an email with the location of the orientation.
On Friday, Jan. 11, at 6:45 pm, I received an email with the location along with required items I needed to bring with me to the orientation. My drivers license, social security card, college transcripts, resume, and a recent TB test. Seriously? And I need to bring these things to orientation at 11am the next morning, not even 24 hours notice? On this "New Tutor Information" email, in bold, it said, "If you are unable to finish the above requirements before your New Tutor Orientation date, call us at least 24 hours in advance and reschedule." I wasn't going to go. I was going to see if I could reschedule but being that it was 7:00 Friday night, there was no one I could even talk to until Monday morning. So I thought, they can't honestly expect people to have all of this with that short of notice, so I went anyway. The woman doing the orientation didn't even take any documents from any of the 70 something tutors that showed up. She gave us an email address where we were to send all of the required items. She also informed us that a Live Scan fingerprinting was required before we could start and that they had a man there that day to do it for our convenience. It was $88 and if we chose to do it that day, Academic Advantage would pay the $88 and would take out $44 from our first two payments received from tutoring to reimburse them. I waited in line an hour after the 3 hour, unpaid orientation and got my Live Scan done.
The next week, I went and got a TB test, that I had to pay for and dug through tons of moving boxes to find my college transcripts and social security card. On Monday, Jan. 21 I emailed all of the required items. Two days later, Jan. 23, I called and told them that I sent the items and it had been well over a week after getting the Live Scan so the results from that should've definitely been in and asked, "What happens now?" They told me that my Program Completion Rep would be contacting me any day now. That never happened. The next two weeks were completely insane. On Feb. 11, after 16 calls and 9 emails, I called demanding to speak to the head person in charge. Over these 2 weeks, 5 different people from Academic Advantage had called me. Each and every one of these 5 people, left a message saying almost the exact same thing. They would say their name and their extension # and then tell me, "We have students waiting to assign to you but are still missing some required documents." I would get the message, immediately call the extension # they left and every single one of the five were completely different departments and not the person that left the #. How is this even possible? I seriously don't understand. Each call would last at least 15 minutes where I would tell the story to at least 3 different people in 3 different depts who would transfer me back & forth & round & round from Tutor Recruitment to Student Support Services to Invoicing & Payments to Documents & Paperwork. Each dept. would tell me I had the wrong dept., that I needed such & such dept. I felt like I was in a Twilight Zone episode. Through all of this madness, I found out that the "missing required document" was this Return of Property Agreement. This document was in the middle of a stapled packet of papers I had filled out at orientation. It was a form that we had to sign stating that we would return, upon completion of tutoring, the tablet laptop provided to us. On this form, it asked for all of our credit card info allowing Academic Advantage to charge our credit card a total of $275 if we do not return the laptop to them. I filled out and signed the form but had left the credit card part blank because I do not even have a credit card. How was it that only one document was missing and it was a document that I had filled out in the middle of a stapled packet? Only this document was missing?? Over this 2 week period of chaos, I emailed this Return of Property Agreement form 6 times to different random people that sent me emails stating they needed it. Each time I sent it, it would have a note attached explaining that the credit card part was blank because I didn't have a credit card & to please call me, email me, send a bike messenger, a singing telegram, whatever, if this was a problem as to not delay this BS any longer. When I called demanding a supervisor on Feb. 11, my state of mind was all bad. I don't remember ever being this angry in all my life. I was yelling & cussing. It had escalated to that point. I honestly and truly have never dealt with a more unprofessional, disorganized, incompetent group of idiots, not ever. They took it to a whole new level.
The supervisor that unfortunately had to take my call, was the first & only person that had any kind of tact & common sense, and I talked to a lot of people in 16 calls. She gave me her direct email & extension, which actually really did belong to her. She also informed me that the problem was the blank credit card info part, that either a credit card was required or my bank checking account # & routing #. One of these two things were an absolute necessity. She proceeded to ensure me that no money would be taken out, that this was just necessary if I didn't return the laptop. So I gave her my Visa debit card info & ensured her that my checking acct was overdrawn anyway so it didn't much matter. If they're trying to get peoples bank & credit card info to steal money, they picked the wrong broke b***h.
Two days ago, Feb. 19th, I got the call that I have been waiting for, the call to assign me my Program Completion Rep, the call to let them know what grades & subject I want to tutor, the call with the info I spent 29 days, almost seriously losing my sanity, trying to find out. I got the call, thank you God.....oh wait, there seems to be a problem. So much time has passed, there are no Learning With Laptop students left. They are all already being tutored by other tutors that started weeks ago. So the only students left are on the paper based program. So she's sending me the 102 page Adobe New Tutor Packet to print out so I can quickly familiarize myself with this new program. The other 102 page packet I got at orientation for the Learning With Laptops program that I've read over the last 29 days in between calls to Academic Advantage, yeah just forget all that, erase it from my mind cause I don't get to do that program. The Return of Agreement form, that infamous little form that seemed to have some kind of special power of sucking all brain cells out of the minds of Academic Advantage employees, there is no need for it now. There will be no laptop for me to return or not return resulting in debiting my Visa card. The Return of Agreement form, the form that caused this delay that caused me to not be able to get any students in the Learning With Laptops program. But hold on, it just keeps getting better. Being that it's slim pickins now that so much time has passed, there are no students below 6th grade left to tutor. I only have experience with elementary school kids. I have been assigned 10th grade math students. Huh? Uummm, am I qualified to tutor high school math? Well according to Academic Advantage I am. That's fair to these students struggling with math. I could just do it, get paid my $17/hr, pretend like I know what I'm doing, who cares about these kids anyway. I could, but I won't and I wouldn't cause I'm not that kind of person and I do genuinely care about kids and their education. And the final thing, the cherry on top...the state has approved 28 hours of tutoring per student that has to be completed by April 30. If I, the tutor, do not complete these hours in that time frame, all hours left after April 30 come out of my pocket. So if I take on these students I now only have 2 months to cram in all of the required hours.
In the "special notes" section of my Tutor Info Guide, the first thing in bold states: 1. When you receive a message from us, please get back to us as soon as possible & no later than 5:30pm on the same day. A prompt response to all of our messages is very important. For our program to be successful, we cannot afford to wait for replies to either our emails or phone calls.
Academic Advantage: The nerve! It should be illegal to even be allowed to state this on your documents. It makes me sick that you have the audacity to even utter something like this to your employees. Thank you so much for the hours of my time & energy spent on dealing with the stupidest, most incompetent group of people I've ever encountered. It is scary to think that a group like this are running a "business", a "business" called Academic Advantage at that. WOW!! Lord help us all.