Refund fee charged for NASA visa processing, forum tells city school

KAPURTHALA: The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has asked Cambridge International School, here, to refund Rs 40,000 sought from a parent for sending his son to a proposed trip to NASA in February last year.

Refund fee charged for NASA visa processing, forum tells city school

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Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, December 4

The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has asked Cambridge International School, here, to refund Rs 40,000 sought from a parent for sending his son to a proposed trip to NASA in February last year. Since the visa got rejected, the trip had been cancelled.

In his complaint, Balwinder Kumar Sharma of Noorpur Lubana said his son Anmol Sharma was studying in Cambridge International School. He said a NASA tour programme was opened to all students from Class V onwards.

“We were told that the total cost will be Rs 2.35 lakh. We were asked to deposit Rs 40,000 as the first installment, along with the consent form and passport. We were told that the students, who will participate in the tour, will get certificates along with goodies such as T-shirts and bags. The programme fee will cover every cost, including NASA programme fee, airfare, hotel stay, food, transportation in the US, visa application fee and flights, medical insurance, tickets for theme parks,” the plaintiff wrote.

Sharma said he was assured that his son, along with other students, will be taken to USA embassy in New Delhi for obtaining visa soon. “But the school did nothing. No such trip was organised. Despite my requests to the school to refund the amount of Rs 40,000 they lingered on the matter on one pretext or the other. The school authorities started harassing my son on one pretext or the other due to demand of refund of Rs 40,000. Hence, I had to shift him to another school.”

The school authorities contested the case. They said the parents were told that they would charge Rs 40,000 for getting the visa of the students, which included visa application fees, transportation and boarding charges for going to the US Embassy at New Delhi for giving interview for getting the visa. They were told that in case the visa was rejected, the money would be returned after deducting the expenses incurred for arranging the interview in the US Embassy. In all, parents of 57 students gave their consent for sending their children on the trip and all deposited Rs 40,000 each. The school hired the services of a tour and travel agency, Edvour, Zirakpur, for arranging the appointment in the Embassy. The appointment of the ward of the complainant was fixed on May 23, 2018. Initially two batches of 25 students were sent for giving the interview for the visa but unfortunately the visa applications of all students were rejected. Hence, the remaining seven students, including Anmol, was not sent for the interview. An amount of Rs. 28,000 was charged by the agency as visa fee and processing charges, transportation charges, hotel booking charges, etc. The school has been ready to refund Rs 12,000 to the complainant but he has refused to take the amount.

The forum was of the opinion that the school must have to bring on the file, receipt issued by the Immigration Office of the US, situated in Delhi but no such receipt has been placed on file issued by the immigration office which shows that no amount for the ward of the complainant was deposited by the school. Hence, the school authorities are liable to return the entire amount of Rs 40,000 to the complainant, along with 12 per cent interest from February 20, 2018, and Rs 15,000 as compensation charges and Rs 7,000 as litigation expenses.

What the forum says

The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum was of the opinion that the school must have to bring on the file, receipt issued by the Immigration Office of the US, situated in Delhi but no such receipt has been placed on file issued by the immigration office which shows that no amount for the ward of the complainant was deposited by the school. Hence, the school is liable to return the entire amount of Rs 40,000 to the complainant, along with 12 per cent interest.