Part 5. ‘I Call It Grifting’

 A former TBI teacher has come forward to make serious allegations against Binsar, the School Manager and Owner of TBI Bekasi. I interviewed him tonight. Here is a record of our conversation.
Did Binsar always pay you the promised salary? If not, how much less than the promised amount were you paid?

Binsar promised Rp.9 mil a month, but I don’t recall ever breaching Rp.6 mil.  There was a lot of song and dance about “after I get my new visa” and “just wait till all the new students get signed up”.  I personally know four people who taught there, and all have the same story.  All got the carrot and stick treatment.

Part of how he screws teachers is to promise the money, but then can’t come up with the class hours, so he cuts back on the pay.  Of course, none of that takes into consideration the prep time and various other assignments, travel time and costs, and private tutoring gigs.  I had one gig from him that required me to rush at break-neck speed from north Jakarta to Bekasi by ojek so that I could cover my classes there in the evenings.  I had 30 minutes to make the trip, rain or shine or macet, and there was no travel fee involved to offset the cost.

All in all, I made nothing from TBI, and ended up costing me quite a bit in the end.

 Did Binsar honor his promises in terms of visas and airfares?

From the moment I started there, he was aware that my current visa would expire in July.  I started in March.  By the end of June, he was going on about booking flights and setting things up and talking with his agent.  Then, one week before I was to fly to Singapore, he called me in with his ‘agent’ and said that all bets were off until my current visa expired.  That left me a week to go through a process that normally takes more than a month.   I had to clear my old KITAS, cancel my NPWP, go through a tax audit and pay a rather healthy sum in Uang Saku to get Binsar’s mess straightened out.  Final cost was about Rp.18 mil, which was about the sum total of what I had made working for TBI, not including the daily bus trips from west Jakarta to Bekasi to teach.  As far as I’m aware, Binsar gives the same speach to all the bule.  He pulls out a folder with some official-looking papers in them and waxes poetic about how he once actually got a visa for a teacher.  In the grifting business, this is called the ‘hook’.  I call it grifting, because I believe that Binsar is nothing more than a con…the artist part is debatable.

How would you describe your job satisfaction at TBI Bekasi?

The classroom time with the students was great, and the staff there was wonderful.  However, Binsar’s management and the crap he pulled on me and three of my friends is unforgivable.

Did you ever receive threatening phone calls during your time there? If so, what was said?
He called several times, but I refused to answer.  He sent two rather threatening email, which if I can dig them up, I’ll be happy to forward to you.  He has since tried to ‘friend’ me on Facebook and pops up occasionally.  I was told by the person who came in after me that he called me a number of names, threatened to sue me and break my legs, and a number of other unpleasant things.  Never said it to me directly, one because I wouldn’t speak to him, and two because he was actually a little afraid of me, I’ve decided.

The lawsuit was to be for breach of contract, because when I returned from Singapore after clearing my visa, I told him where to insert his school.  I had reminded him that no contract is valid in this country that is not in Indonesian (the ‘contract’ was in English), that didn’t include a jurisdiction, warranty and remedy (had none of those), and that required one of the parties to perform an illegal act (work without a proper visa and permit).  I knew all that when I signed his paper, but I held it as my ace in the hole, since I had already gotten an inkling of who he was.

 Would you recommend working at TBI Bekasi to ESL teachers seeking employment in Indonesia?
I have not and will not recommend TBI to anyone seeking employment here.  I have in no way denigrated the school, but I have subtly steered a couple of folks to more verdant pastures.  I have worked with several of the private English schools here in Jakarta and have had less than enjoyable experiences in the end.  However, my experience with Sun City Bekasi was by far the most egregious experience I’ve had in my time here.
Any further comments you would like to add?
My reputation as a teacher is stellar, I am still in contact with a great number of students and staff that I have worked with, and I get calls nearly every other day to come teach at this or that place.  This information is not sour grapes, it is a factual impression of my time with TBI Bekasi.  Thanks in large part to the bad taste Binsar left with me, I am out of the teaching business in into more profitable pursuits, where people are honorable and live up to their promises.This information is provided more as a professional service to teachers considering TBI Sun City, rather than as a vendetta against Binsar.  I firmly believe in karma, so I have no doubt he will receive as he gives, with or without my help. Thanks S****, and good luck in your quest.  You would do well to grow eyes in the back of your head and/or make some good media contacts right away.  I may have one or two interested in the story and will advise as events warrant.Sampai jumpa!

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