Last night I interviewed a highly-placed source at MCE, the joint venture which was the dominant partner of the TBI Malang-MCE pairing. In the coming days we will offer fresh insights and information into why TBI has been kicked off the premises at their own school, TBI Malang. We will also offer insights into how Luke, Mariam and the other major TBI players responded to news of the break-up. But today we aim to focus on the reasons why MCE has decided to break off its relationship with TBI and one theme stands out above the others: TBI’s lack of professionalism.
MCE had decided that TBI was full of hot air and empty promises. In forming the deal TBI had made grand promises which they just didn’t deliver on. TBI had promised that it was a world-class language trainer; instead, they found that once TBI had received the payment, they lost interest in MCE and were a negligent and absent partner. One of the loudest complaints was that TBI did not communicate often enough with its partner. Indeed, MCE went for long periods without hearing anything at all from TBI, who had promised a ‘premium’ product. This complaint matches exactly with the experience of informants at Kelapa Gading and TBI Sun City (Bekasi). TBI gets the money from their investors and then walks away and offers inadequate communication, guidance and support for their business partners.
They also complained about the sloppy legal standards of TBI. They complained that their contracts and agreements were badly written and lacking in detail. (We can explain this one. Greedy for money, TBI writes up its contracts itself, without paying for legal advice. Their cheapness is evident to proper businesses, who expect well-written documents prepared by lawyers, not shoddily drafted documents written by Ashley Platts.) MCE has many dealings with different businesses and it found TBI’s level of professionalism, communication and legal drafting scandalously bad. Bear in mind here that MCE is an Indonesian company. This is not a case of foreigners imposing unrealistic cultural expectations on an Indonesian business: this is an Indonesian company who has found TBI substandard and unprofessional.
One of the themes we have tried to focus on with this blog is the lack of professioanlism and standards which lies behind the slick veneer of TBI. It might have shiny offices in Kuningan and Sudirman but once you start dealing with them, everything is poorly written, poorly thought out and often rushed out at the last minute, if at all. They seem to rush from one bad decision to the next, dealing with emergency after emergency in an ad hoc fashion. We found it very interesting that MCE cited ‘lack of professionalism’ as a chronic problem with TBI Head office; it just backs up what we have saying on this blog for nine months now.