Contracts after the company goes under?

I got this most interesting query from a reader that I thought was worth discussing a bit here on my blog:

“I’m hoping you can help me. I paid money to a company called, “The Auction Employment Training Institute” so that I could take the training, then become an Ebay auction listing agent. Half way through my training, this company went under. (I think this because they haven’t answered their phone calls for months. First they said it was a temporary inconvenience, now they just don’t answer.) Employment with Ebay was guaranteed. Is there any way I can follow through with this to get this job? I realize this may not be your area of expertise, but any suggestions would be welcomed) I’ve tried looking this up on the Ebay sight, and there is nothing.”

I’m not going to talk about how to research a possibly defunct company but instead want to talk about the questionable benefit of a guarantee from a company that can go out of business.
The fact is, most guarantees have escape clauses as it’s the rare small business that can afford the risk of having too many customers use their product or service then return it for a refund. Imagine a restaurant where lots of homeless people enjoy their meals then claim it was inferior and ask for a refund, or a housecleaning service where most of their customers later refuse to pay because they weren’t happy with the resultant level of cleanliness?
That’s not to say that this is what happened with Auction Employment Training Institute, but I’m a bit confused: they can’t possibly guarantee you’re going to be hired by eBay. The only company that could guarantee employment with eBay is, well, eBay. Anyone else has to be misrepresenting the situation or, perhaps, they mean you can sell stuff on eBay as a merchant, which you can already do by simply signing up and listing stuff.
Still, do they have a guarantee of employment? Well, they did, and it was enough for you to sign up for the program, which is too bad because, as many questionable companies do, they apparently shuttered their office (my guess, they never had an office) and split with the rest of the money. From their perspective, they probably figured that it’s easier to drain the bank account and shut down than to worry about delivering content for the latter part of your course.
So does your guarantee have any value? Not at all. I’m sure eBay won’t help you out (though they might sic a lawyer on the task of finding and suing the original owners of the business) and while you can try filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, the fact is I’m confident that they’ve long since split and will resurface under another name.
All I can say is that I’m sorry you’ve been ripped off like this, and to encourage everyone to always beware deals that seem too good to be true. It’s clearly the case that no third party company can guarantee you’ll be hired by another firm, regardless of how they phrase it.

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