Anyone else get ripped off by CLARB?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE Anyone else get ripped off by CLARB?

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    My story is a long one, but I’ll abbreviate the best I can. I applied to take the L.A.R.E. in 2006. I foolishly signed up and paid for all 5 sections at once and as exam time approached, I realized there was no way I could be ready for any of them.

    In fact, I’m in IL and really don’t need a license to do what I do, but figured I’d just do it anyway, so there really was no urgency. I asked for a refund and they suggested I could roll over to the next session. Well, here it is 3 years later and I’ve come to realize I really will not ever take the exam. I’ve been in the industry for 20 years and never had a need before, so I formally requested a refund. I figure they have had use of my money for 3 years. They had virtually no cost outlay, so no harm, no foul, right?

    Guess what? Seems, buried deep down within the bowels of CLARB’s malfunctioning, poorly-designed website is a no-refund policy. This policy was not located any where near any of the sign up pages. If it were, it would have shown up on the pages I printed out when I signed up online.

    If my business, if I took someone’s money and didn’t deliver product, I’d be accused of being a thief. That’s what this feels like.

    I’m pursuing the state now, but getting stonewalled there too. I’m out $1500 and have nothing to show for it.

    If you would like the names of the individuals I dealt with at CLARB, I will gladly share.

    This stinks big time. BEWARE OF CLARB!

    David J. Chirico

    I don’t think you are comparing apples to apples. They aren’t promising you a product, they were holding a seat for you. A lot of times if you buy seats to a concert or a plane ticket and don’t use it, its non refundable. I think you stepped into the same area there. You may be correct in that they never said up front that the money was non refundable.

    You have a title act in Illinois I believe, which means you can’t call yourself a landscape architect but you can practice it. In Virginia we are fighting hard to change from a title act to a practice act. A practice act means only licensed landscape architects can perform certain work. I don’t know what stage Illinois is in, but I can tell you that it is the goal of ASLA to make sure all states have title acts by 2010. It doesn’t look like they will reach that goal, but I bet they don’t stop trying.

    I say this because it might be worth your interest to have them save your seat and take the test because of the future of the states licensure. Even if you fail, it would be money spent toward a goal, and not just lost in the system and you not being any closer.

    Good luck in your pursuits.


    Not sure you understand. I qualified to sit for the exam. I am not “ineligible” as you suggest. The fee paid is not for a license, but to take the exam. I canceled early enough in the process that it should not have been a problem. Their policy of “no refunds” was not put in a place where it was easily accessible. If there were an administration fee for canceling, I certainly understand. Their cost to deliver the exam is the same whether I’m there or not. I agree that there would have been a cost to grade the exam, but there was none to grade.

    Yes, it’s a professional license, and I agree it costs a lot to design, protect, and administer the test. But why should I pay if I do not benefit from any of that?

    Let’s say a client pays you a design fee in advance. Then, before you even get started, they change their mind. Do you keep the fee?


    I would be willing to bet not all the seats were sold and they suffered no harm in my canceling.

    How about they refund my fee (less a reasonable admin fee, if they want), and I pay again if I decide to take the exam? Chances are I’ll pay an increased fee at that point, but that’s my risk. It’s a matter of right and wrong.

    I had no idea I was agreeing to a non-refundable fee when I paid it. It’s not documented anywhere on the pages or documents I filled out when I signed up. That is a pretty significant penalty not to have in a conspicuous place.


    I’m not sure why I am wading into the middle of this but here are my two cents. Below is an excerpt from your original post:

    “Guess what? Seems, buried deep down within the bowels of CLARB’s malfunctioning, poorly-designed website is a no-refund policy. This policy was not located any where near any of the sign up pages. If it were, it would have shown up on the pages I printed out when I signed up online.”

    I went to the CLARB website just to double check and with two mouse clicks I was at the LARE registration page. In the middle of the page it clearly states the cancelation / refund policy, it’s even in bold print. If you missed the date and they told you could roll it over to the NEXT session that probably meant the next CLARB test session, not three years from that date when you decided you would give it another try. Next session to you is clearly different then NEXT session for them.

    By the way, I currently reside in Illinois, although in the process of becoming registered in Michigan. Illinois is currently a Title state. You should be aware there are two bills in the state legislature (HB 2636 and SB 1711) for the upgrade of the states licensing law to that of a Title and Practice state.


    My original post also states that it was 2006 when I registered. The site was quite different then. I printed all of the pages that documented my registration, so I would have a record. Not one refers to a no-refund policy.

    If you want to see the site as it was then, see here:

    How many clicks to find it on the 2006 site?

    The site was poorly designed and did not function correctly for me.

    And, for what it’s worth, the current site does not function for me either. I’m on a Mac. I tried with Safari, Firefox 2 and Firefox 3. The first page shows up, but links do not function.

    I’m aware of the bills in the legislature, but thanks for the heads up anyway.


    OR, they could refund my money. They have not earned it. THEN, if I decide to take the exam at some later date, then I will pay the current rate at that time.

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