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Look out for this bunch, which is a contractor for teaching positions. In other words, you sign a contract with them, and they farm you out to middle schools in Shanghai and its suburbs.

It′s a little complex, but I′ll try to make it as short as possible.

I am in a situation where I need a Z-visa extension--I.e., a new stamp in my green book--as quickly as possible.
Pressed for time, I swallowed my considerable misgivings and signed on with this outfit because . . .

(A) they promised rapid processing of the visa extension, and

(B) on the basis of my C.V. and some glowing references, they told me that I had already been accepted by a so-called "key" middle school (zhong1 xue2) in Jiading, in the northern suburbs of Shanghai.

Of course, they′re now saying that I "misunderstood." However, they also said this in Shanghaihua in the presence of my Shanghaiese wife. But I′m getting a little ahead of myself.

Yesterday (Wednesday, 25 August) two representatives from Tong Hu/Yuzhen took my wife and me to what had been billed as a touching-bases, let′s-get-to-know-each other meeting. When I got there, the meeting turned out to be a formal interview. And, for reasons known best to the school, I was "tried and found wanting." In short, they didn′t want me.

On the drive back to central Shanghai, the Tong Hu people kept assuring me that there was "no problem" (sound familiar?). Then they said that they had rented a flat for us near that same school. Very interesting, because we had informed Tong Hu both face-to-face that we had found--and, in fact, had paid a hefty deposit on--a flat ourselves.

This morning (Thursday, 26 August), I informed Tong Hu that they had unilaterally dissolved the contract through what would be called in Western law fraudulent misrepresentation. On no! was the reply: my wife and I had (once again) "misunderstood."

At this juncture, they are refusing to return my U. S. passport along with my green and red books.

My ace in the hole is my large Chinese extended family, which includes a judge in Shanghai. So this will be interesting.

Anyway, a cautionary tale for Foreign Experts in China or those contemplating coming to China, Shanghai in particular.

Laodeng [2004-08-26, 15:11:00][ID: 913-5023] laodeng

So do you need help? If so, exactly what? Or will your family be able to help you?

Sojurner [2004-08-26, 18:36:00][ID: 913-5024] Thanx, SOJUNER, but the situation is under control. My posting was only for the possible benefit of others.

Laodeng [2004-08-27, 04:32:00][ID: 913-5026] Take Laodeng′s report not just as a specific warning about one company or one city, but rather as a general warning.

1. STAY AWAY FROM RECRUITING AGENCIES IN CHINA. I′m not sure I′ve ever heard a positive report, at least not one that didn’t come from the manager of the agency. I′ve sure heard a million horror stories. Always deal directly with the school and only sign a contract directly with the school. Folks, with a minimum of work, a monkey can find a basic TESL job in China if the monkey comes from a Big-5 English-speaking country (USA, Canada, UK, Australia, NZ) and doesn′t mind teaching kids. Even if they were decent and honest, which they aren′t, there′s absolutely no need to use a recruiter. The recruiters are taking advantage of really desperate schools and foreigners who simply don′t know any better. Jobs through recruiters are generally NO BETTER than what you can find, and may well pay LESS…since the recruiter is skimming off a lot of what you′d get if you came in on your own. Boo, hiss….

Don′t fall for any "safekeeping" BS…this is done solely to render you helpless. It′s not even legal…you are supposed to be able to produce your passport when requested. You′re technically required under Chinese law to carry your Residence Permit at all times (although almost no one actually does this). You′ll need your Foreign Expert Certificate to exchange money…at least until you become savvy enough to forego this excruciating process and just use the black market like everyone else. Without your passport and Residence Permit, you won′t even be able to check into a hotel if you travel.

You′ll have to surrender your passport to the police (probably through someone at your school) in order to get your Residence Permit and FEC or to renew these documents and/or your visa. This is necessary. But once these things are processed, don′t fool around. Don′t even teach a class until all of your personal documents are safely back in your kung fu grip. Don′t sign a contract with anyone who requires this, and firmly and flatly refuse any requests to let them keep your documents. If anyone holds these documents against your will, stop teaching, immediately contact your nearest Consulate for help, and get out of that school ASAP. Make a xerox copy of your documents- do this yourself- and give them to the school. Nothing more.

Again: schools only hold your documents so that they can force you to take whatever swindles and abuse they choose to dish out. Never, ever let yourself be put in that position. Schools who won′t swindle and abuse you (if there indeed are any) won′t ask to hold your documents, either.

Raoul Duke [2004-08-27, 22:16:00][ID: 913-5033] Points well taken, Raoul.

The story has a happy ending. Through the intervention of its Kiwi manager of foreign personnel--currently on family business in N.Z.--I got everything back PDQ.

For the record, this outfit is authorized to apply for Z visas and extensions, so they need your documents to do this. Of course, I didn′t authorize them to hang onto them.

Laodeng [2004-08-29, 04:11:00][ID: 913-5042] laodeng,

The story has a happy ending? How about the teachers that illegally got farmed out to Shainghai and the suburbs?

Do you intend still to work for them? What about your passport, did they give it back to you?

ESL [2004-08-30, 00:03:00][ID: 913-5050] he said he got it all back. That means passport.

X [2004-11-13, 21:34:00][ID: 913-5695]