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Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College - Berkeley

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LET THE BUYER / PROSPECTIVE AIMC STUDENT BEWARE!!! I am a former TCM student from AIMC. I have performed acupuncture in their student clinic. I attended the program full time from 2005-06 and left due to pregnancy. I was not unhappy with the education I received when I was there, nor was I unhappy with the clinic at that time. (Not sure how it is there now as I have not been back in awhile.) But if you're like me, you want to believe that the general mentality of a school/ clinic where you go for acupuncture is one of healing rather than of deception and shady practices. I used to believe AIMC was such a place, and as a massage therapist and pre med student, I have sent many massage clients to the AIMC clinic in the past. I have stopped doing so and here is why: (please pardon the long post)

When I went down to the school for my exit interview in 2006, I was told that I owed nothing more. After that, I was never contacted by anyone from AIMC again, even though I have had the same contact phone since 2001. About six months ago, I applied for a bachelor's program and was soon was informed by my prospective new school that AIMC had placed a hold on my transcripts. Apparently AIMC was now suddenly claiming that I did owe them money after all, about two hundred bucks for a dropped class.

For over six months I have been dealing with this issue with them in an attempt to resolve this supposed debt and get the hold removed from my transcripts so that I can continue my education. I have left numerous voicemails, spoken by phone to a live person who claimed to take a message and sent out a blanket email to faculty and the school president. All went unanswered. Finally, a few months ago, I went down to the school and spoke with an Asian woman on the first floor. I don't remember her name but she claimed to work in financial aid. I explained to her my situation and the fact that I am a single mom on a tight budget who would have difficulty paying two hundred bucks upfront even if I did owe it. I suggested that since it seemed the school had made a clerical error years ago and never contacted me about it in ten years AND since they had already received several thousands of dollars of tuition from me in the past, they might just let this one go. Or at least remove the hold on my transcripts and allow me to make payments on the amount that they claimed I owed. The woman refused to work with me. We argued for several minutes over whether or not I owed this amount and whether or not it was fair to suddenly attempt to collect a ten-year-old alleged debt that I had not been informed of AFTER I had previously been told I owed nothing. Eventually I was near tears and asked the woman what I needed to do in order to get the hold removed from my transcripts.

The woman said I could pay the balance in three payments and then the school would release my transcripts. She typed up a contract which stated payment amounts and dates spanning three months' time. BUT.. the contract stipulated that if I were to be late any given month on a payment, I would have to pay a late fee of at least $50. (I don't remember the exact amount but it was at least $50 and may have been higher.) Again we argued. I told her I was not comfortable with the terms and that they felt "loan sharkish". I felt I was being punished for the school's clerical errors. The woman remained coldly unmoved, though she did say that if I knew I was going to be late with a payment, i could call her before the due date and she would not charge the late fee. I realize it was was totally stupid of me to sign such a contract. I was desperate and very upset, and this woman used that to her advantage. Of course, I was unable to make payments for a few months due to financial hardship and when I attempted to call this woman more than once, I received no call back. That fact and the knowledge of how much AIMC will now probably claim in late fees caused me to become very stressed out. I was taking classes at another school and home schooling my son (and working) and I just couldn't deal with continuing to fight. so for a few months, I stopped trying to contact anyone at AIMC.Last week, with finals done, I decided I was ready to contact the school again. I left a few voicemails and sent out emails to several faculty members, including the president of the school. No response in over a week from anyone. My next move will be the Better Business Bureau and eventually possibly a lawyer. I am not sure if the general mentality of AIMC school/ clinic was always this shady or if something has changed in recent years. I do know that such a mentality and practices are the opposite of that which a true healing institution should have. This is not at all an environment conducive to healing.

Male -- Class 2000
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