The ACCC has commenced legal proceedings in the Federal Court against training provider RSA Express Pty Ltd (trading as Express Online Training) for allegedly engaging in misleading conduct about aspects of its online training courses which were offered for students to attain certificates for the responsible service of alcohol (RSA) and construction induction training (White Card).
The ACCC alleges that Express Online Training falsely represented to potential participants that they would only pay, or be asked to pay, for the online training course after they had passed, and that courses could be completed in one day. It is alleged that neither of these representations was true.
Express Online Training made statements that the ACCC alleges were misleading, such as: “Same Day Certificate”; “Only Pay After You Pass”; or, “Best of all – with us you don’t have to pay until you pass!”.
It is also alleged that through the use of the ‘pay when you pass’ statements and the design of its website which included prompting consumers to pay for the course before they had completed it, Express Online Training gave the misleading impression that consumers had completed the course and would receive their certificate, when this was not the case.
Participants had to complete a lengthy questionnaire which took around three to six hours, following which Express Online Training prompted participants to pay for the course. But after consumers paid for the course, which was shown on screen as the final step, they were notified that they had to schedule additional assessment tasks to obtain the certificate. Often, participants could not schedule the further assessments for the same day or even several days. Express Online Training then took time to process remaining assessments and tasks.
“We allege that Express Online Training made misleading statements to consumers on its website and in online ads. Consumers who were seeking to attain a certificate quickly to apply for certain jobs may have chosen a course offered by Express Online Training based on these allegedly misleading representations ,” ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said.
“We commenced these proceedings because we are very concerned about the impact of the alleged conduct on vulnerable job seekers.”
“Some jobseekers reported they jeopardised, and even lost, their job prospects because they were unable to complete the course in the timeframe expected. Other enrolled participants abandoned the course when they realised further assessments were required,” Ms Carver said.
Some participants paid an additional ‘priority service’ fee to Express Online Training, which reduced the marking time for the assessment from between up to three business days to under two hours. Other participants reported that they had to pay another training provider to get their certificate in time.
The ACCC is seeking penalties, consumer redress, declarations, injunctions, costs and other orders.
Express Online Training is an Australian registered training organisation that supplies online courses to customers, including the Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) and the White Card course, which certifies that a person can work safely on construction sites.
It has offered these courses to consumers in most states and territories in Australia since at least October 2019 via the Express Online Training website. The cost of the RSA course ranges from $19 to $159. The cost of the White Card Course ranges from $35 to $59.
The document contains the ACCC’s initiating court documents in relation to this matter and was uploaded on 6 February 2024. We will not be uploading further documents in the event these initial documents are subsequently amended.