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(BARBADOS TODAY) — A St Lucian on a student visa here claims she has lost thousands of dollars while seeking qualifications at a cosmetology school – and she wants her money back.
Sherline Gabriel came here on a student visa to complete 15 months of training at Barbados Cosmetology School, located at 116 Roebuck Street.
After paying almost all of the full course fee she found out that the school has no accreditation and her efforts to recover $2,840 she paid for tuition have been frustrated.
“It makes me feel bad because I saved a lot to come to that school and I came legitimate and it was the school that is at fault as I did not do anything wrong. It makes me feel bad that I came here and have to spend all of this money and someone [deprived] me of my money. It does not set a good example for her and the country because when she does that other people would not want to come here and go to school,” she told Barbados TODAY.
The young woman said she first became suspicious of the institution after the school was scheduled to reopen on January 8 after the Christmas holidays but had apparently run into problems with its landlord.
She [the school’s principal calls me] asking me for money telling me she wants the monthly payment which was for December that was [owed] her. I said, “I have the $600 here for [you] so when the school opened [the following day] I would have given it to her. But on that particular day, she wanted to come to my house to collect the $600. I told her I was not home.”
Gabriel said she was unable to do her final exams to complete her certification due to a claim by principal Pearl Francis that she owed $600. Gabriel said she cleared the tuition bill on the morning the school reopened on January 8 but up to now she has been unable to sit the exam.
She told Barbados TODAY that the class arrived at the school on February 25 and found the locks on the doors had been changed and their calls and Whatsapp messages to the principal were unanswered.
“All of us were standing on the side of the road the school was locked… but she still let us dress and come and stand on the side of the road facing public embarrassment.”
The St Lucian national’s frustration was further heightened when she realised the certificate provided by the Cosmetology School was not accredited. The school is not listed as a registered provider with the Barbados Accreditation Council as of April 1.
“I went to the accreditation council to find out if her school is under the accreditation council and [found out] she has never been registered with the council.”
It was at this point that Gabriel said she confronted Francis over the lack of accreditation and asked to be reimbursed for the $2,840 she spent in tuition.
Her request has gone unanswered since February 25, and now she has turned to the authorities, including the police, in a bid to get her money back.
“I went to the Royal Barbados Police Force Criminal Investigation Department. When I went there was a female officer who contacted [Francis] and asked her why does she have foreigners in her school… ‘If you are not accredited you should refund this person back the money.’
She said ‘OK’ to the officer. She called me the same Friday and said ‘Sherline, I would have the money for you on Friday,’ and up to today she is telling me she needs to take out a loan and she is waiting on the money and she will give me the money.”
Gabriel said she returned to Barbados Cosmetology School on Monday to again ask Francis for the repayment of the $2,840 but was met with hostility.
“She started carrying on and telling me I can’t talk loud in her place. I told her if she does not want me to talk loud then she has to give me my money.
It is very unfair and unacceptable. I let the Immigration [Department] know that I am not going to her school anymore and I explained to them why,” she said.
The St Lucian said she felt as though she was being victimised because she was not a Barbadian and has no understanding of the educational system here.
“I would not know if the school is accredited,” said Gabriel. “Maybe people from here would know a little more about that part of it than me. If I am coming to do a course and the Immigration Department [gives] me a permit to do the course I would believe everything is ok with the school. It is trouble for me to get my money back from her.”
Barbados TODAY visited the Roebuck Street institution to speak to Francis who was not present at the time. Repeated calls and Whatsapp messages to the Principal also went unanswered up to news time.