On 27 December 2020 Carte Blanche broadcast its program about the South African Butler Academy (SABA), featuring former student Lin Yang, who has taken on SABA to get her money refunded, and to prevent potential Butler students from being misled by SABA. I was interviewed too, having identified in 2013 already that the marketing of SABA is misleading its prospective students and their parents.
I summarised the interaction between SABA and myself, and between SABA and Lin Yang just after the Carte Blanche program was broadcast:
Since Carte Blanche interviewed Lin Yang, I, an anonymous former student, and SABA management, it is evident that SABA is under pressure and starting to panic about the class action of a group of former SABA students, including Lin Yang. The panic is evident in a number of actions:
1. Before the broadcast of the Carte Blanche program I discovered frantic posting by SABA on its Facebook page more than once a day, compared to every few days before Carte Blanche announced that it would research the topic. A friend has told me that she has seen the same frantic posting on LinkedIn. If nothing else this is proof enough to me that SABA is guilty of the accusations of its misleading marketing, identified since 2013.
2. SABA has created new alternative names for its Academy as well as its Recruitment arm, to be found in Google searches, in an attempt to help it gain more links on the first page of Google, thereby trying to push my post to the second page or lower. It has created an alternative website address too, www.thebutlerschool.com, trying to move away from its notorious SABA name, it would appear. It does now refer to itself as ‘SABA – International Butler Academy & Training School’. Other names used are ‘SABA International Butler Academy’, ‘Butler Academy SABA’, and ‘International Butler Jobs & Training’.
3. SABA has introduced a new Virtual Butler Training Course, with the claim of ‘the world’s first’, of only 10 days, at two hours per day. One wonders how they can cram an eight week course into ten days. A 5-day Virtual Course is available too, with only ten hours teaching time in total, at a cost of R6500.
4. SABA has created a live Book Club via YouTube, another attempt at gaining a greater Google presence, it would appear. I had to laugh when I saw SABA’s Newton Cross referred to as ‘the Master in Butler training’ in the ad for it (my bold emphasis), once again unsubstantiated!
5. SABA has created an online shop (Butler Pantry), selling glassware, corkscrews, cordless vacuums, decanters, cookware sets, T-shirts, juicers, cutlery, and more! A sign of financial need?
6. SABA is teaching its students valuable new skills, such as how to wrap a gift!
7. SABA has revved up its marketing claims to offering a ‘Certified International Butler Course’, unsubstantiated however. In its Question & Answer Page however it admits that ‘SABA is not accredited by the South African Service Training THETA/SETA’, in answer to its own question whether its courses are accredited. It describes itself as the ‘number 1 Butler training academy globally’, an unsubstantiated claim.
8. SABA can only retaliate to the allegations of misleading marketing by disparaging those that have come forward to document the misleading marketing of SABA and to speak up against SABA:
#. Since 2013 SABA listed every negative mention on Social Media of myself and my
guest houses I owned at the time on its website. These are completely out of date as I sold all my guest houses over five years ago. For a student wishing to study Butling it must be completely confusing to see such personal attacks against me, a person that they do not understand the SABA link to. In the Carte Blanche program SABA expressed surprise that I had not visited or interviewed them at the time that I wrote the story about them, but this was inaccurate as I had telephonically contacted Adriaan Coetzer, the Head of Guild Recruitment, the recruiting arm of SABA, right at the beginning in 2013. What must infuriate SABA must be that my Blogpost about SABA’s misleading marketing is still on page one of Google when searching for ‘SA Butler Academy’, despite it having been written 7 years ago. It was ranked 4th yesterday while writing this follow-up story.
#. Lin Yang clearly is a major thorn in the side of SABA, for having contacted Carte Blanche, and getting them interested in producing the program about SABA, clearly it having caused damage to its reputation, given the clearly dishonest replies its management gave presenter Derek Watts to his highly sarcastic questions and comments. In the section on the SABA website dedicated to Lin Yang the guns are loaded. First, she is called ‘Ms Yang’, but being Chinese her name comes second and her surname first. She has just been publicly and disparagingly accused on the SABA website of admitting to ‘suffering from a mental disorder’, an outrageous lie. Furthermore, it is implied that SABA is taking Ms Lin to court, but it is in fact Ms Lin who is jointly with other SABA students taking legal action against SABA. Eight international Butler Schools have expressed their support of Lin Yang’s battle against SABA.
# Steven Ferry is a British Butler, heads up the International Institute of Modern Butlers, is an author of several industry textbooks, and publishes a monthly post on the Institute’s The Modern Butler’s Journal. He is devoting an increasing amount of space to SABA, and to Lin Yang’s legal action against SABA. He has highlighted the false claims made by SABA about the number of staff employed by SABA and the qualifications of Newton Cross. He has been added to the SABA ‘Rogues List’ on its website, disparagingly accused by SABA as ‘sending out false claims and fake news about SABA International Butler Academy and our teams!’ They also accuse him of being unethical, of being ‘jealous’ of SABA, and of being the ‘Butler police’! A threat to SABA is that the articles in The Modern Butler’s Journal are creeping up the Google ladder! They accuse him of not being discreet as a butler, but the SABA website is full of disparaging attacks against myself, Lin Yang, and Steve Ferry! As they quote on their website : people in glass houses….
9. SABA has sent lawyer’s letters to students who it seems to think may become part of the Student Class Action case initiated by Lin Yang, or who have expressed dissatisfaction. To date there is record of 7 former students having received such letters. Written by Jéan Kotzé of Laäs & Scholtz Inc, the letters state: ‘Our instructions are that you have expressed in some form of another your disapproval of our client. We are in the process of verifying the information/claims you have made and expressed. We intend to subpoena witnesses for the court matter between Lin Yang and our client, as the court is the correct forum to cross examine and test witness claims and/or versions of events. Should you wish to change your views expressed or claims, you are welcome to reply to this letter’. This sounds intimidatory to me!
10. SABA appears to be encouraging its past students to review its courses on its Google page, all rated 5 out of 5 of course, pardon the pun. An ethical shock is seeing the SABA lecturer Braam West and Butler Academy Hub (with the SABA logo) congratulatory ratings of their own course as 5/5!
It will be interesting to observe to what further lengths the SA Butler Academy will go as an increasing number of students support Lin Yang’s legal action against SABA, and as more and more dishonest claims made by SABA are exposed!
Lin Yang can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein @MyCapeTownGuide