Landmark Education is luring people using their viral marketing network of volunteers and using emotional approach to target gullible people to sell their overpriced programs
The US-based Landmark Education, which claims to be a personal and professional growth, training and development company, is now luring Indians with promises of life transformation through their programs. However, many felt cheated, brainwashed and exploited by Landmark Education’s promises of life transformation.
More pertinently, the US Department of Labour investigated Landmark Education in 2006 and found violations of US Labour laws. They said in their Investigation Report that employees were not paid for overtime correctly and volunteer employees were not paid at all for hours they worked.
Also, several complaints were filed in the US as disclosed by several litigations which have been made public. There is also a blog which reveals many dubious practices about Landmark Education.
Landmark Education, also known as ‘The Landmark Forum’, was earlier known as The Erhard Seminars Training (EST). Landmark Education, through so called ‘introduction leaders’ sell self-help programs. These ‘leaders’ are none other than brainwashed volunteers. They use viral marketing strategies to sell their courses which costs from Rs10,500 to Rs20,400. During a so called ‘free seminar’, they share their ‘life transforming stories’ and emotionally motivate people to join Landmark Education network. The main aim is to get as many people to be a part of ‘The Landmark Forum’.
Mumbai resident, M Govardhan, while sharing his experience with Moneylife said, “the programs’ sole intention is to get participants to buy their dubious programs. Once they enroll for the ‘basic’ program, the participants are subjected to various dubious teaching methods. According to him, the fees charged are highly overpriced and the number of people that Landmark Education managed to get is mind boggling. It is entirely run by the so called ‘Introduction Leaders’ and volunteers.”
“There are no checks and balances to assess the activities of these kinds of forums who are en-cashing large sums of money from innocent people. The poor victims, many a times, cannot even afford to undergo such training in their lifetimes. Amusingly, the so called Introduction Leaders many a times pay up the required fees on behalf of the participant and patiently recover it from them later,” he added.
According to Govardhan, Landmark Education targets participants to take ‘advanced’ programs for better results once they are done with the ‘basic’ program. The participants are also asked to bring ‘guest participants’ for attending the next ‘free introductory’ seminar. Thus, Landmark Education targets guests to join ‘The Landmark Forum’ and pursue paid programs.
Govardhan says that Landmark Education constantly talks about their advanced coaching from the day one of the basic program and many people take the advanced program. By this time the participants would have spent enough of money to burn a hole in their pocket.
The most worrying fact, according to M Govardhan, is that many government employees, bankers are also targeted. This creates tremendous influence on the gullible people.
Another such participant Deepa Hegde, who attended free introductory seminar in Bangalore, complained on cosumercomplaints that she and her husband were harassed by volunteers to pay Rs12,500 and register for their program. However, she declined to pay up and join. She told, “Their marketing strategy is too cheap and do not give any space or time for people to think and judge whether they really need it or not. I could not believe the extent of pressure they could put on someone to make easy money, by creating emotional dramas.”
Landmark Education programs are very hectic, which measures 12 hours a day for three days and six hours on the fourth day. The method of training includes scientology, psychological techniques and self-inspiring philosophies. The program influences participants so much that they get inspired and voluntarily start working for Landmark Education, for free, and asked other people to join their network.
One victim, Ashok Sharma, lodged a complaint on Complaint Board, a consumer forum website and said that he felt cheated when he attended the seminar in Chennai. He was referred by his friend who had done Landmark Education’s programs up to ‘advanced’ level. According to Mr Sharma, the ‘forum leader’ looked like a professional and brought earlier participants who shared their positive views about the forum. At the end of the seminar he was offered to buy schemes totalling Rs13,300, with deferred payment option or pay Rs11,000 with discount of Rs2,300. He said that at least four to five people were around him, and were emotionally blackmailing him to pay Rs2,500.
Landmark Education targets people to join their forum by emotional and viral marketing network of their volunteers and forum leaders. This creates a big question on its genuineness.
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