ETS: $60 Refund and Free TOEFL Test (and shabby emails)

Received this interesting experience from a reader about email exchange with ETS for closed TOEFL Test center.

There is something very important you will learn from this blog post.

Hi HSB and HSB blog readers.

I’m one of the regular readers of your posts ever since I planned to do my Master’s in United States.

Well, I never got a chance till now to post anything useful to the readers but now I’m excited to share my friend’s experience with ETS Legal Advocacy Officer where we had lengthy conversation for about two working days.

ETS Compensation for TOEFL

The story begins like this

My friend Kunal (Name Changed) had booked his slot to take TOEFL- IBT on August 13th, 2011 at one of the centers in Hyderabad and happened to reschedule it on 21st August,2011 at Prometric.

To his most shocking, the Test center was removed and he received a mail from ETS that his rescheduled appointment was canceled due to some reason.

He was given a voucher to book another appointment at some other day when he slots are available.

Kunal asked him for the reason, he said that – we have received complaints that the center is being involved in malpractice and hence removed.

He was given a chance to write in Kurnool (230 Kms from Hyderabad) this 14th August.

We were frustrated with that reply and informed him that we are going to file a case against ETS for troubling students.

To his most surprising he was offered a 60$ compensation, a free appointment to take TOEFL at Kurnool on 14th August as well as on 27th August, 2011 at Prometric Hyderabad.

The email conversations are attached.

Email Exchange and Mistakes

I’m not going to publish the entire email conversation, but I just couldn’t even digest the way a professional college student communicated with ETS official.

Let me make one thing clear here. I’m complaining about the person who wrote the email not the ETS.

Here is a couple of emails sent by kunal

“wen is my test i am worried about the test date”

am i an idiot i paid extra 60 dollars to my centre

i want it in ets on 21 aug

what the hell r u dng with me

SIR I HAVE ALREDY BOOKED TICKETS AND IT DID NOT APPERED IN MY PROFILE

AND ALREADY ITS LATE TO SEND TO THE UNIVERSITIES

Email messages above shows he wasted several years of school and college to learn communication skills.

I see several such emails (25+ per day) from students. When I was in B.E. I was not expert in writing emails, but I had common sense on how to write an email in English.

Students question the need to study in US when economy is down. You will lean how to communicate in professional way, because you will not get respect (or response) if you write email the way Kunal did.

If you happen to write such emails even after going to college  in USA and unable to find a job, please don’t blame the US economy for that.

Well, to learn how to write and communicate in English (via email), you don’t have to go to USA and spend a fortune.

Before Hitting the Send Button

Before sending a professional email, you must have common sense to check few things

  • Typos (and spell check)
  • Grammar mistakes

What kind of language is that “what the hell r u dng with me”.

Please read the following blog posts

I’m not native English speaker and my English skills are below average. But, I try my best to write and improve in every blog post. Look at some of the blog I wrote 3 years back. I feel bad to read them, but I have come a long way and still long way to go.

Communicating via chat with friends is not same as communicating with ETS official, professors, graduate school or hiring managers. If you cannot differentiate between professional email with casual emails, please reconsider your decision to study in foreign countries.

48 Comments

  1. blisstar on January 28, 2015 at 6:59 AM

    After reading this,the first word to describe was LOL :the part where he questioned the ets using colloquial language was hilarious.I was shocked to see he got a reply for that too.Sry if Im being perjorative.Anyway,Great post,will always keep in mind when writing.Thnx

  2. Nrapendra on May 8, 2013 at 1:02 AM

    Dear Raghu,
    great help

  3. divya on February 8, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    Hi.. I had my toefl test date 3rd feb.bt thy inform me jst 2 days prior to my test date that date and time wil be rescheduled. Now i got 3rd march.. Nd deadline fr univs is 1 st april… Its will b too late by the time thy strt processing my applicaation.
    I know a friend of mine whose toefl date wasnt changed bt location was..tht to frm andheri to borivali..
    I booked the date first..i shld b given more preference.. Whn am i given a date aftr a month.. And 16 th feb guys same date.. Not fair..wat can i do!!!

  4. Vishal on August 14, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    I have read all these conversations. I would just say that HSB has a valid point. Email communication is a written proof also it reflects your attitude. So one should be careful while writing emails. Also no matter how you are angry when you write in offensive language sooner or later it works against you. In professional life (doesn’t matter for which company you will work) the first lesson you will get is how to communicate properly (emails, messangers etc.). I know one can get frustrated in scenario mentioned above, but how an offensive language is going to help one.

  5. ram on August 14, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    arey pankaj,HSB would argue for his point.He is biased,and he wont support us.He is asking you grown up or not,we should ask him the same.He removed all the comments which i posted in support of kunal.

    • HSB on August 14, 2011 at 1:16 PM

      If your comment had offensive words (like fu*k) do you expect comments to be approved?

      • ram on August 15, 2011 at 8:58 AM

        i didnt use any such words like F****,after all i have common sense….i just raised a point against you,which you have ignored.

        I agree that kunal has done a mistake,advice him ..but,don’t simply slam him.It’s not what we expect from people like you,i am a regular visitor of HSB for the past 2 years and i’ve never seen you like this, before..!!!

  6. Milli on August 14, 2011 at 12:31 PM

    First off I am just curious when you cannot publish ETS matter here can you publish “kunal’s ” matter here?The other thing to note here is you said you spent two working days to just discuss this matter,is that what you are being paid for ? Is that professionalism..oh wait you also talk about professionalism right?I forgot.
    You are married got kid and must be probably working apart from discussing blog matters in office and of course!there’s bloggingand it took me an hour to figure out who in his right mind would be “excited” to blog about a “friend” openly In public.
    I think you should have generalized….oh wait! I know you did this on purpose to generate blog traffic maybe.
    Man all I wanna say is dont be too critical on this poor kid he’s way younger than you and you make unforgivable mistakes in your blog.you are not involved you got angry and “couldn’t digest the situation”what about him who’s bearing the brunt .
    P.S: I m in now way related to “kunal” or this blogger, I m just a third person residing in US who cannot tolerate the way Indians settled here treat the people in India.
    Just think guys we are recruited here because we are more qualified than they are .Even republicans who are against supporting anyone outside America agree with that period.you need not feel inferior in anyway.
    Yes there are somethings which need to be improved but that’s about it.

    • HSB on August 14, 2011 at 1:29 PM

      My message was plain and simple. Student if you are making suck mistakes while writing email, don’t do that. This happened to be conversation with ETS.

      Since you are in US, let me ask you this. Would you communicate with ALL CAPS or using the slang language while sending email to your boss or maybe others professional need?

      I will discuss further if your answer is YES.

  7. Pri on August 14, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    I have a doubt.
    Would the language used by this student and also the mentioning that he would file a case against the ETS; would have scared the ETS? And to comply for that they offered the voucher and/or compensation?
    Could this be a possibilty?
    Would the ETS have offered the voucher and the compensation had the email conversations been official and sophisticated?

    • HSB on August 14, 2011 at 11:09 AM

      ETS offered the compensation in the first email that sent out. Above all, US companies treat customers the right way. They weer unable to reschedule at selected test center and they offered solutions to fix that.

      • Pri on August 14, 2011 at 11:53 AM

        Thanks HSB, that clears my doubt.
        Oops in a hurry I did a spelling mistake in my previous post, didn’t re-check before posting.
        A small advice for everybody:
        Prepare yourself for all contingencies well before in hand when in good times, that will help to cope with the stress or tension during bad times. It works. Like the saying goes, “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”.
        🙂

  8. pankaj on August 14, 2011 at 10:02 AM

    The ETS guy knows the situation because he was corresponding with the bloke.
    If the ETS guy is not complaining, why are you complaining?
    You don’t pay Kunal’s rent.
    Kunal doesn’t live under your roof.
    You don’t watch Kunal’s back.
    Believe me, if you are an Indian, you have done worse things than what Kunal just did, so there is no point in judging him from excerpts of his emails taken out of context.

    What’s more, I feel confident in saying that after quite a few emails have passed between the two on the same matter, there must have been some sort of rapport built up by which Kunal felt confident to use such syntax, spelling and language to impress his growing concern without offending the ETS guy.

    • sattipandu on August 14, 2011 at 12:51 PM

      arey pankaj,HSB would argue for his point.He is biased,and he wont support us.He is asking you grown up or not,we should ask him the same.He removed all the comments which i posted in support of kunal.

  9. pankaj on August 14, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    Come on, give the guy a break, and stop being self righteous and judgemental. He was tense because his future plans were getting messed up. When you are tensed, you will be able to speak your first language well, but other languages’ grammar and spelling can go to hell at that time.

    Also remember, these are excerpts of his emails taken out of context.

    Haven’t you heard of broken syntax arising out of stress and tension. Don’t forget this guy was probably under the impression that ETS was cheating him out of approx. 200 dollars.
    So why would you communicate respectfully with a thief who is stealing from you and messing up your career.

    I would like to see his reply or email to ETS after he got the compensation and free test date. That would show his real communications skills.

    • HSB on August 14, 2011 at 11:18 AM

      Very first email from ETS offered voucher, apology, option to book dates in HYD if slots open and tried to see if they can open additional slot just for him.

      Let be logical here. Hes taking TOEFL in August. So, he’s not going for Fall 2011. So, he can be going for Spring 2012 or Fall 2012. Taking TOEFL couple of days later than scheduled date will not spoil his future plans.

    • HSB on August 14, 2011 at 11:20 AM

      Pankaj – Grow up, will ya?

      Try talking, with slang in your mother tongue to your boss in US because you are in tension.

      • Vijay Sankar V on August 15, 2011 at 1:57 PM

        Hey pankaj,

        You are comparing ETS to a thief. Don’t you know you need the thief’s certification in one way or another to get into any college. It’s our need. We must co-operate.

      • pankaj on August 21, 2011 at 7:39 AM

        ETS is not a boss. Its a standard testing agency.

      • pankaj on August 21, 2011 at 7:52 AM

        HSB, why don’t you start acting like your age group?
        Or are you really past retirement age and got nothing else to do?

        Firstly, my comments were on the basis of the excerpts you had given. You had not provided info that very first email had a voucher, apology and option to book dates.

        You give an excerpt from nowhere, portray it totally out of context, and then behave self righteous and start being judgemental.

        Secondly, referring to your challenge above

        “Try talking, with slang in your mother tongue to your boss in US because you are in tension.” – HSB

        What is the difference between the way we should communicate to a boss in India compared to a boss in the US. Do YOU show courtesy only to fair skinned people?

        • pankaj on August 21, 2011 at 8:55 AM

          Oh, I got it now. You assumed that my mother tongue was an Indian language but actually my mother tongue is English, so I interpreted it differently.
          I am glad you are not setting the GRE RC questions, you assume too much.

  10. Prateek on August 14, 2011 at 8:19 AM

    seeing the grammar, punctuation( which are no where to be seen!), and level of dedication towards writing the email,… i am surprised the person reading this email at ETS didn’t break thier computer screens… you need to have good or very good communication and writing skills. Though what ETS did was wrong, but this is not acceptable in the professional world…

  11. varun on August 14, 2011 at 1:06 AM

    There are typo’s in this article too . NO pun intended ,just a observation.

  12. sathish on August 13, 2011 at 11:38 PM

    hi hsb, the above statements are really impressed. But the thing i want to hear is about the response of ETS people. its good ,as they paid him as a penalty to the student.

  13. Roy on August 13, 2011 at 10:34 PM

    hey kunal,
    I’ve never seen such kind of jerk like you. Don’t you have any other works to do? why are spoiling this website with your disgusting vague posts? I think HSB should sue you for your misleading argument & prevaricacy on public website devoted to help students?

  14. verghese on August 13, 2011 at 8:16 PM

    The email is terrible.But on the other hand ETS doesn’t really care about international students.I really think TOEFL doesn’t serve its purpose.Lot of malpractices do happen in states like AP.It would be better if the students have a simple test at the consulate/embassy, to assess their language skills.

  15. AjruLEz on August 13, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    The Bottom line is ” When a student cant write a simple email, He wont crack any of the sections’s of the TOEFL. So the Best thing would be to Leave them to their path.
    I have seen many students of these kind. Even if he exchanges 1000 mails he has to be good in each n every email of him. BEtter not to say anythng bout HYD students . hope u know d stuff. (Not all )

  16. Sanny on August 13, 2011 at 1:08 PM

    Hai friends,
    hmmm, the emails posted above happen to be my friend’s!!!!
    You had better taken a look at the entire set of emails before leaving a comment. The entire set happen to be about 48 emails b/w my friend and the executive from prometric. Also, in the emails posted, there is no mention of the post from the executive. My friend here spent 4 sleepless nights. He was literally crying at a point of time while typing those mails. Also, the executive from the ETS understood the condition of my friend and didn’t mind the language, as it was entirely their fault, and they also did something, which is lawfully very severe. So, guys please do mention the entire story!!!!!!!!!

    • HSB on August 13, 2011 at 1:43 PM

      I cannot post the entire email, but I read the whole emails. It doesn’t matter if he’s losing sleep or crying. They apologized and offered to book TOEFL again. Point is not what happened between ETS and your friend. Its about the language used in the email. It paints a negative picture when a student going to college communicates.

      Your comment “ETS understood the condition of my friend and didn’t mind the language” shows you got long way to go in learning communication skills.
      Try using similar language to a professors, hiring manage or your boss at work. Then you will know the real consequence.

      Read this post – http://www.happyschoolsblog.com/common-sense-job-interview-example/

      • Sanny on August 13, 2011 at 2:10 PM

        Hai HSB,
        I think you read the emails posted in the page MS in Facebook posted by one, Srikanth.
        But i have read the entire emails from the email of my friend here. The emails you read were only of one night. When my friend here got frustrated to a point where he lost control of his anger. In the emails preceding them, we maintained all the courtesy and other shit you mentioned needed for a professional. What professionalism is that where you deduct an amount of 60$ form someones bank account without their consent? For this reason we can drag ETS to court. But we were not concerned about the money. For two days he was told he had no slot at anywhere… so the frustration on the final day!!!! PLZZZZZ HBS. Find the entire thing before you post something!!!!!!!! And remember, we Indians follow one thing for sure, Give respect to Earn respect!!!!!!

        • HSB on August 13, 2011 at 2:39 PM

          Did ETS give voucher that can be used to to reschedule the test again?
          Did ETS say that they are going to see if they can open more slots?
          Did ETS offer to book slot in Hyderabad if become available?
          Did ETS apologize for the inconvenience?

        • sathish on August 14, 2011 at 12:06 AM

          its appreciable reply sanny. any human being in this world will slip there tongue when they are excitement , either in happiness or in any tragedy. that we call as anger. here the guy who got effected by the ETS shown his temper in Emails. mistakes in a single line will never esembles that , he is not eligible to study MS in US. look at his capability, and thinking of work. he drawn the whole ETS system down and got a compensation for there mistake. how can we appreciate that. he worked around two days to get his slot. its interesting part. there are many people who secures good score in toefl, still dont know how to convince others . i feel sanny frnd the the better one than any other, who left upheld .

          • sattipandu on August 14, 2011 at 8:29 AM

            what are u speaking satti?? how can u judge a person through a single mail??? how can u justify your comment that he is not eligible for MS???
            HSB encourages the posts which support his point of view,ain’t it HSB?



          • HSB on August 14, 2011 at 8:52 AM

            Here is some Caution Tips about Sending Email from Virginia Tech Career Services.
            Be aware that e-mail is a form of written communication and it creates a written record.

            Retain copies of the e-mail you send and receive.

            Don’t let the speed and ease of sending e-mail blind you to the fact that you will be judged on what you say and how you say it.

            E-mail, like other written correspondence, doesn’t reveal your tone of voice. Choose your words carefully.

            A well-written e-mail can quickly impress an employer (and the reverse is true).

            When people take time to respond to you and give you information, respond with thanks. That person has given you time, and time is precious. Don’t treat people like servants. If you treat people poorly because they are lower on the organizational chart than others, be assured those up the chart will be informed. Failing to say thanks makes you look lazy, unintelligent, self-centered, or immature (or some combination). Again, sorry if that sounds harsh, but we want to help you avoid mistakes!

            Read More



          • Vijay Sankar V on August 14, 2011 at 6:02 PM

            Dear ALL,

            You can lose your control while in a telephone conversation or a face to face conversation and may spill ‘abusive’ or ‘grammatically incorrect words’. But, while texting or email-ing, please be cautious and reconsider your words unless it is a more personal email. Your words are being saved and can be used or may harm you. I can say this as I have almost lost my job ‘just due to an email’. I am even embarrassed a little bit to mention about it in the blog. 🙂 HSB has been doing a good job ‘educating’ you guys (and me too) to uplift yourself professionally, internationally. … So please appreciate or at least do not criticize.



          • HSB on August 15, 2011 at 8:49 AM

            Vijay – can you share your almost lost job email experience?



          • Vijay Sankar V on August 15, 2011 at 1:47 PM

            I had been working in a software firm for more than two years. I used to work at night shift. And as mine was not a big corporate, sometimes I will be getting some calls from my company business partners and associates (all Americans as we only do business with US clients) when my boss is traveling or busy with any meeting. Telephone call mishaps won’t create much of a scene but emails definitely do.

            Working in odd hours and not sleeping properly may have ‘some effects’ on your expression and thinking :). So in reply to an appreciation email from one of our clients, I added the word ‘flattered’. I knew that client for quite a long time and used to have calls from him once in a fortnight or so. But he did not liked that email as it was not ‘personal’ between me and him. The email was copied to my boss and also to a support team (like [email protected]) of the client. And so it almost costed me an arm and a leg to get my job back. 🙂

            You must not say ‘I m flattered.’ to a true appreciation(that too in email). You might have seen it on movies but in real life it won’t work. I posted my experience (even though embarrassed) for the goodwill of the readers (readers who can learn from the mistakes of others and their own).



  17. DG on August 13, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    Dear HSB.,

    My humble request you people like kunal these guys will ruin him/her self and for also future prosperous students from India,

    Such kind of mails to ETS people reflects our country , we are clearly giving ourselves that we indian never develop professional writing skill even after long years in education.

    And i request HSB please give us what kunal/blog readers has written to HSB.
    hiding such info shows the hsb is not transparent.
    People will learn from mistake and mostly from other mistakes.

    Americans are really sensitive and they will take each and every matter in consideration,

    “Remember Words are sharper than knife”

    • HSB on August 13, 2011 at 1:53 PM

      Things like Privacy is not given much importance in India. Its easy to photocopy books and share emails sent to others.

      Do you know what would happen if I post the emails – HSB will get Cease and Desist message form ETS attorneys and get sued. for posting emails exchanges with someone else and ETS official.

      If I had the conversation directly with ETS, then I can post the emails provided message is not attached with confidential notice.

      Overview of the situation is reflected in the blog post.

      • harini on August 14, 2011 at 12:00 AM

        Is Prometric center also involved in these malpractices? I have heard that prometric would be the standard one to take TOEFL tests in order to be on a safer side.

      • Vijay Sankar V on August 14, 2011 at 5:49 PM

        Dear HSB,

        Is it true that ETS actually refunded the amount after the email from Kunal (did you believe it)? From what I saw from the post, the emails are both grammatically error-ed and also abusive. I think its just a spam. I had one experience with ets regarding an amount refund. I can definitely say that they won’t even reply (and entertain) to ‘any abusive emails’.

        • Annonymous on August 15, 2011 at 12:26 PM

          You might have failed to converse properly with the authorities. They aren’t spam or just made some shit that made you to comment here.

          • HSB on August 15, 2011 at 12:33 PM

            @Annonymous – Like the post http://www.happyschoolsblog.com/toefl-kurnool-test-center/ ETS should have given 2 options.

            You can take the test in Kurnool or wait for 3 months. Have you seen students where ETS asked them to retake TOEFL after students have completed the TOEFL test because of software glitch?



          • Vijay Sankar V on August 15, 2011 at 1:19 PM

            Dear ‘Anonymous’,

            I actually got their refund. (I lost my amount while booking for the test and got credited to ETS accounts. My test was not booked also. I got my refund after numerous emails and also telephone calls). I can say I tried my best to express myself both properly and professionally. So, if you (or kunal) say you got the refund after such emails that you have sent, then at least do not repeat such ‘expression mistakes’ in the future.



  18. sq115 on August 13, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    Do these people not know the difference between talking to friends and talking to official people? But still good for laughs though you gotta admit that.

  19. odko on August 13, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    Thanks so much for always updating me regularly on recent information and useful advices. Today I have given IBT TOEFL exam. While I was doing my listening section, an error appeared on my computer screen twice suddenly and my test stopped automatically. I waited until administrator fix it. Even though I continued my test from the rest of my materials, I am not sure that I can get a good score I expected. Today I heard of something that people can take their weak sections of TOEFL again. If it is true, how will I register it at ETS web site and submit my further score to an university I am applying?

    Thanks,
    Odko

  20. FATEH MOHD on August 13, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    hello dude
    i m mubashir,i also have a similar problem bot somewhat differnt from you
    i booked my gre exam on 30 august at 9am in the morning but they have relocated my exam on the the other centre but the problem is my new exam timing is 6pm in the evening,as i m a muslim i have to end my fast at 6:45pm.
    can u please tell me to whom i shoul contact and could they help me ou from this problem….
    please resppond me for this comment

  21. Hari Veturi on August 13, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    I communicate in plain English even with friends and the same with officials 🙂 Anyway, as you said, re-checking the e-mail you’ve drafted helps get out the mistakes (sometimes, I too type mistakes in a fast pace) Even though for me, vocabulary is not the primary concern, grammar is what I think is most necessary in Spoken English (Most important for written) 🙂 So I would advise everyone to learn grammar first then vocabulary 😀

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