BBB Accredited Business since

American Institute For Foreign Study, Inc.

Phone: (203) 399-5000 Fax: (203) 399-5590 View Additional Phone Numbers 1 High Ridge Park, Stamford, CT 06905 View Additional Web Addresses

BBB Business Reviews may not be reproduced for sales or promotional purposes.


American Institute For Foreign Study, Inc. offers an educational/cultural exchange program.

BBB Accreditation

A BBB Accredited Business since

BBB has determined that American Institute For Foreign Study, Inc. meets BBB accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. BBB Accredited Businesses pay a fee for accreditation review/monitoring and for support of BBB services to the public.

BBB accreditation does not mean that the business' products or services have been evaluated or endorsed by BBB, or that BBB has made a determination as to the business' product quality or competency in performing services.

Reason for Rating

BBB rating is based on 13 factors. Get the details about the factors considered.

Factors that raised the rating for American Institute For Foreign Study, Inc. include:

  • Length of time business has been operating
  • Complaint volume filed with BBB for business of this size
  • Response to 10 complaint(s) filed against business
  • Resolution of complaint(s) filed against business

Customer Complaints Summary Read complaint details

10 complaints closed with BBB in last 3 years | 8 closed in last 12 months
Complaint Type Total Closed Complaints
Advertising/Sales Issues 0
Billing/Collection Issues 3
Delivery Issues 0
Guarantee/Warranty Issues 0
Problems with Product/Service 7
Total Closed Complaints 10

Customer Reviews Summary Read customer reviews

0 Customer Reviews on American Institute For Foreign Study, Inc.
Customer Experience Total Customer Reviews
Positive Experience 0
Neutral Experience 0
Negative Experience 0
Total Customer Reviews 0

Additional Information

BBB file opened: October 30, 1991 Business started: 01/01/1964 Business started locally: 01/01/1964 Business incorporated: 10/01/1973 in DE
Type of Entity


Business Management
Mr. William Gertz, President CEO Ms. Paulette Aguirre, Executive Ms. Ruth Ferry, Director, Au Pair Ms. Anabel Martinez, Director, Database Marketing Mr. Paul Watson, Director, College
Contact Information
Principal: Mr. William Gertz, President CEO
Customer Contact: Ms. Anabel Martinez, Director, Database Marketing
Business Category

Schools - Academic - Colleges & Universities Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools (NAICS: 611310)

Alternate Business Names
Academic Year In America AIFS College Programs AIFS Inc Au Pair in America Camp America Cultural Insurance Services International Summer Institute for the Gifted

Additional Locations


BBB Customer Review Rating plus BBB Rating Overview

BBB Customer Reviews Rating represents the customers opinions of the business. The Customer Review Rating is based on the number of positive, neutral and negative customer reviews posted that are calculated to produce a score.

Customer Review Experience Value
Positive Review 5 points per review
Neutral Review 3 points per review
Negative Review 1 point per review

BBB letter grades represent the BBB's opinion of the business. The BBB grade is based on BBB file information about the business. In some cases, a business' grade may be lowered if the BBB does not have sufficient information about the business despite BBB requests for that information from the business.

BBB Letter Grade Scale

BBB Rating Value
A+ 5
A 4.66
A- 4.33
B+ 4
B 3.66
B- 3.33
C+ 3
C 2.66
C- 2.33
D+ 2
D 1.66
D- 1.33
F 1
NR -----
Star Rating scale

  Average Score
5 stars 5.00
4.5 stars 4.50-4.99
4 stars 4.00-4.49
3.5 stars 3.50-3.99
3 stars 3.00-3.49
2.5 stars 2.50-2.99
2 stars 2.00-2.49
1.5 stars 1.50-1.99
1 star 0-1.49

BBB Customer Review Rating plus BBB Rating is not a guarantee of a business' reliability or performance, and BBB recommends that consumers consider a business' BBB Rating and Customer Review Rating in addition to all other available information about the business. If the BBB Rating is NR then only Customer Reviews are used for the Star Rating.

Complaint Detail(s)

3/11/2015 Billing/Collection Issues | Read Complaint Details

Additional Notes

Complaint: This company sent a few emails showing a blanket amount that was owed for an extension of one month for the au pair that was supplied to us. There was no explanation of the charges, no details listed on how the amount was calculated. When I contacted the company to dispute the charges I was met with complete resistance. In fact I was yelled at by the accounting manager, refusing to provide detailed billing. I requested a detailed paper bill to be sent to my residence, which never occurred. I heard nothing back from them, until they sent me to collections for the stated amount that they claim that I owe. I still have not received any detailed bills highlighting how the billing was generated. I understand that a service was provided and there is a cost associated with it, but I should not be legally held to pay a bill when the bill can in no way be justified or detailed. I NEVER received any paper bill from the company. After being contacted by the collection agency, I tried to contact the billing department to obtain a detailed bill so we can settle the issue. I have left several messages with no return call. I would like to get this resolved and would have had it resolved prior to them sending the bill to collections, if they would have just provided a detailed and justified bill. I would appreciate it if this could be resolved ASAP. Thank you!

Desired Settlement: Please provide me with a detailed bill allowing me to pay what I rightfully owe. Any communication from the company directly is much appreciated as well. Thank you!

Business Response: Our representative, ****** ********, spoke to *** ******* and made arrangements to clear the account after reconciling dates of service.   The collection agency was alerted and the case is closed.

3/3/2015 Problems with Product/Service | Read Complaint Details

Additional Notes

Complaint: CONTRACT TERMINATED, PAYMENT TERMS NOT AGREED TO. ** **** ******* ******* ADDITIONAL PAYMENT WITHOUT AGREEMENT. 1 year Contract with ** **** in America was terminated 10 weeks into the contract. Potentially criminal wrongdoing is being investigated by the police. We no longer wish to have ** **** in America services continue for the remainder of the contract (1 year). Payment for 10 weeks of service is not agreed upon. Both parties agree normal termination refund stated in their policy is not appropriate. Due to the situation, ** **** America has offered "exception payment" of $610, where we request $1709. POLICE REPORT Neighbors indicated our ** **** had swung one of our 2 year olds by his arm and yelling at him while in *********** **** in **** ******* **. A police report was filed. ** **** in America agreed that "normal" schedule of refund was not applicable. ** **** in America payed an additional $610 dollars to us, above the normal termination schedule. The normal termination schedule follows a graduated scale, costing clients more money on pro-rated basis when contracts are terminated earlier than 1 year - the shorter the period, the more the weekly costs are. Due to the circumstances, we requested that ** **** in America honor their per-hour rate it advertises on their own website "$365 per week". We request no additional fees or penalties be applied. However, we reserve the right to request additional refunds for an ** ****** plane flights and educational expenses. Additionally, legal fees would be requested should a lawsuit be necessary. This was written in a certified letter as follows. ** **** in America responded in letter, declining our request and standing by their original settlement offer. > ***** ** > ***** ***** ****** > **** ******* ** ***** > > Jan 15, 2015 > > > ******* ****** > Regional Program Manager > ** **** in America >* **** ***** ****** > ********* ** ***** > > Dear *******: > > Thank you for the $610 refund which we received Jan 10th. This was in addition to the $1119 refund received in Nov. > > Due to the criminal wrongdoing being investigated which is the cause for dissolving the contract, we are requesting an additional refund of $1099. > > Because of the circumstances of separation, we do not believe a normal refund schedule applies. The ** Family is requesting we pay a pro-rated amount which your website states as “$365 per week – per family, not per person.” > > **** stayed with us 10 weeks from August 14, 2014 through October 27, 2014. This 10 weeks amounts to $3,650 less the $1,950 we paid her directly, or $1,700 to ** **** America. > > We paid $4,527.15 in total to ** **** America. > > Less $1700 - cost of 10 weeks of services to ** **** America at $170/week > > Less $1119 - refunded in November > > Less $610 - refunded in January > > Additional refund requested is $1099. > > Thank you in considering our request as a good faith attempt in resolving a serious matter. > > Sincerely yours, > > ***** ** >

Desired Settlement: Repayment of $1099 for unused services beyond the 10 week actual period

Business Response:

Please see below confiming the customer has accepted our offer for an additional amount of refund and the matter is closed.


From: ***** ** [mailto:********************]
Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2015 12:43 AM
To: **** *******
Subject: Re: ** **** in America Resolution


Thank you **** for your offer,

After discussing the matter with my wife, we too would like to put this episode in the pass.  We will accept your offer.

Please refund the additional $XXX and we will bring this matter to a close.

Thank you,

***** **


On Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 11:19 AM, **** ******* <*****************> wrote:


12/30/2014 Billing/Collection Issues
10/29/2014 Problems with Product/Service | Complaint Details Unavailable
7/22/2014 Problems with Product/Service | Read Complaint Details

Additional Notes

Complaint: My issue involves many of the above including billing, customer service, compliance with program standards and failure to follow through.Main issues; misrepresentation of Au Pair's skills; credentialed Au Pair who did not meet minimum hours of experience as indicated in their policy. Did not provide service while au pair was placed in my home and upon departure. Billing: Failed to answer specific and pointed questions about charges; Two months have passed without response to specific question about charges and refund. No response regarding quality of service. Many attempts to get answers including at the Director level go ignored; no one has or knows answers. Charges from summary unsubstantiated and not explained despite several attempts to question finance charges; double charged for international au pair airfare.My Community counselor who was aware of the problems was separated from company in the process of my au pair departure. Paperwork processing was not processed and main office did not address. Families are charged a lot of money to the agency that is detailed and to encompass services as outline on the website; they are entrusting that due diligence is done in screening and qualifying said care givers to care for their children and become a member of their household. It is believed that this agency did not do their due diligence in screening au pair for appropriate skills to be a care giver resulting in household disruption and job related issues in not having suitable care for my children. Au pair skills entirely misrepresented and not backed by agency; was told the Au Pair was a "child herself".Agency has evaded questions about billing post departure and have failed to directly address the lack of integrity in services. My family in compliance-other local families not. Recent high turn over in internal staff questionable.Compliance issues also questionable with other local au pairs and adhering to DOS regulations with regard to allowable working hours.

Desired Settlement: I request a full refund minimum for lack of service and time spent seeking answers and family disruption; audit of the company compliance with DOS regulations in screening care givers and monitoring placements to assure au pairs are adequate and that host families are following DOS guidelines and not abusing maximum allowable working hours.Agency is not acting in accordance to the way in which they market themselves. I have worked with 5 agencies and this agency sub par in service and integ

Business Response:

*** ***** hosted the au pair she refers to from June 7th until December 13th.  During that time the au pair was providing child care for *** *****.  On December 7th the au pair contacted our local representative to inform her that *** ***** had decided to end the relationship because she could no longer continue to pay for the program.  At that time *** ***** requested a refund.  After reviewing the account we informed her that there was a very small balance still to be paid.  Since she was on our payment plan we reversed the payment plan fees as a customer service gesture so that the small balance remaining would be waived.  This left her with a zero balance.  Between December 7th and December 13th the program manager had 3 conversations with *** ***** where she explained the refund policy and answered questions about finances.   Regarding the concerns about the au pair’s training, each host family selects their au pair based on the information they have on the au pairs application and their own telephone interview.  *** *****’s au pair met all of our program screening requirements including the government regulations.  On January 30th we sent *** ***** a breakdown of her account showing the zero balance.  At this time I have reached out to *** ***** to further discuss her concerns but have had no response as yet.  We will follow up with a letter to *** *****.

Consumer Response:

Complaint: *******

I am rejecting this response because:

The information disclosed by this agency is false, as the au pair opted to leave the program on her own and this was communicated in writing to the area coordinator who was fired before the paper work was submitted, as these conversations took place over several weeks with this coordinate who was aware of the problems with the au pair and was removed from the system prior to submitting the paperwork.  In fact the au pair contacted the agency and told them I lost my job in fear she would have to pay for her return flight home-she opted to go home because she could not do the job and that documentation is available via previous emails with the former coordinator.  I was contacted by *** ***** who offered me Child care protection since she was told by the au pair that I lost my job  When she was told this did not happen, that I did not lost my job and the au pair opted to leave on her own because this was a job that she could not do, *** said she would coordinate the flight out for the au pair and would be in touch with me to discuss a refund.  I did not hear from *** despite several calls and emails to multiple agency representatives.  Indicating there were three conversations over the course of one week is additional false information and I am prepared to show the evidence of such.  Furthermore the au pair did not meet the minimum child care requirements as the agency markets on their website, as she had 175 hours of child care experience instead of the 200 they claim to offer and they also counted child care time taking care of a family member which is not allowed to count.   

The fact that this agency replies with false information further supports their inability to provide service and support to their families.  I request such documentation to further support their false claims of such communication.  They failed to address any questions I had on the invoicing from the beginning to the end of the placement.  Had the coordinator not been fired who was handling my situation, the process would have been smoother.  After over a month of not hearing from *** and getting no response from their home office executives, I did get a "nice" helpful person however she was unable to help.  I have email evidence of Everything to further support the complaints and am happy to provide these to further support my position and expose the dishonesty in their response.


**** ***** 

6/10/2014 Problems with Product/Service | Complaint Details Unavailable
6/10/2014 Problems with Product/Service | Read Complaint Details

Additional Notes

Complaint: Our family was slandered by an agency employee who then went as far as to break our match with our next au pair, costing us not only childcare but significant distress. We had a follow up call scheduled to resolve and the employee no showed for the call and did not return a voicemail. Our family has never had a complaint, follows the program rules to the letter of the law and never missed a host family event. Several cluster meetings were held at our home and we were an active reference. The day our match was broken our LCC wrote an email describing us as a wonderful host family whose current and previous APs have "always spoken highly of". We have a photo in the current brochure and have asked to have it removed in light of the agency's employee conduct and cannot get a response. We reached out to the VP level for intervention twice to no avail.

Desired Settlement: We want our child's photo removed from the 2014 brochure and employee that slandered our family counseled.

Business Response:

We are sorry that Ms. ******* is not happy with the service received from Au Pair in America.   After the initial complaint came in regarding her dissatisfaction with the employee conduct (received on 1/28/2014), the employee’s supervisor, **** *******, reached out to Ms. ******* on 1/30/2014 via email – see below, but did not get a return response.   Phone calls and emails were exchanged by the employee and Ms. ******* to try and resolve the issue.   Au Pair in America prides itself on the service we give to host families and does not tolerate employees who would slander a host family in anyway. We do not believe this occurred in this case and have done due diligence with the employee to back up our belief. 

Ms. ******* signed a waiver giving us the rights to a photo of her child to use in the 2014 brochure.  We have provided Ms. ******* with a copy of the signed waiver and can provide to BBB if necessary.  Unfortunately, the brochure has been printed. 

From: **** *******
Sent: Thursday, January 30, 2014 9:48 AM
Subject: Au Pair in America HFXXXXXX

Dear *****,

My name is **** ******* and I am *** *****’s manager.  I understand that there has been some confusion and misunderstandings concerning a possible match with extension candidate ****** ******.  I would be happy to talk with you this afternoon and hopefully be of some help with this situation.  I actually have a string of meetings today but I am available at 3.30pm for half an hour if that works for you.  I have more availability tomorrow if that works better for you just let me know and we can set up a time.

Warm regards,

**** *******

Manager, Program Services


Consumer Response:  
Complaint: *******

I am rejecting this response because:  **** and I have not had a chance to discuss.  I never received said email so last week we made attempts to connect but nothing has been scheduled as of yet.


****** *******

Business Response:

**** *******, Program Services Manager, and the consumer discussed her complaint via phone.

On February 19th, Au Pair in America received an email from the consumer stating she had spoken to **** ******* and was requesting the BBB case be closed.

We would like confirmation back that this case is now closed.


5/6/2014 Billing/Collection Issues | Read Complaint Details

Additional Notes

Complaint: After a few delays I have received invoices of past billing from Au Pair in America which have reflected incorrect billing. Examples include being told I was billed a certain amount when on my credit card it shows a different amount, finance charges applied when I was told in writing they would be waived, and over billing of an Au Pair. When I asked specific questions about billing and pointed out obvious errors (for instance, I showed an email indicating I would be billed a certain amount, then showed a screen print of my credit card bill showing it was well above the committed amount) I received no response. It has been between 4 - 11 days since I pointed out different errors. At this point I am forced to register a complaint in order to get ownership from someone at APIA and a prompt resolution.

Desired Settlement: I would like ONE person from APIA to commit to answer my questions in a timely manner. I would like the appropriate refunds applied to my account. I would also like an acknowledgment that this has been dragging on for at least a month and consuming my time with little to no action on the part of Au Pair in America. Finally, I would like my question about my current Au Pair resolved in an appropriate manner (that is a separate billing issue which began my inquiry).

Business Response: Website Complaint Response:

Ms. ******'s credit card was credited back with the amount in question on 4/4/2014 Please see correspondence below. Thank you **** and thanks ****. My confusion as you obviously understand was due to the references of amounts being credited and thinking it was going on my credit card and not seeing it. I appreciate the clarification. ******** On Mar 25, 2014, at 4:37 PM, **** ***** wrote: I have been speaking to **** ******* regarding your account and reviewed the paperwork from ****. I am sorry you have not had satisfaction thus far in getting your accounting questions answered. In an effort to move forward, I am approving a credit to your account of $524 differential you feel was overcharged to your account. The $233 extension fee was reversed on your account, however, this reversal was just credited towards the outstanding balance due. Since we are now going to adjust the balance, I will submit the paperwork so you will see it on your credit card the following week. I apologize on the confusion regarding the $233. The total amount that will be credited back to your card will be $757
4/30/2014 1:38:27 PM

Consumer Response:  
Better Business Bureau:

I have reviewed the response made by the business in reference to complaint ID *******, and find that this resolution is satisfactory to me.


******** ******

4/11/2014 Problems with Product/Service | Complaint Details Unavailable
11/12/2013 Problems with Product/Service | Read Complaint Details

Additional Notes

Complaint: I have tried repeatedly over several days to confirm coverage for an important doctor's appointment, but neither I nor the doctor's office has been able to reach anyone with CISI. As a result, I had to leave the doctor's office without being able to obtain treatment.

Desired Settlement: I want a direct number to be able to speak with a live person to confirm my coverage. I do NOT want to have to leave a message.

Business Response: Website Complaint Response:

The complaint did not specify the date or time of the call but CISI's normal business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm eastern time. Should an agent not be available to take a call, the caller is prompted to leave a message. All calls are returned within the same business day. If this was a medical emergency,or information was needed urgently, all insureds have access to our 24/7/365 Assistance Partner, Team Assist. Contact information for this partner is on all insurance cards and materials and they can be reached at ###-###-####. I have been able to access case logs that a medical provider did in fact reach out to Team Assist and they were provided plan information regarding ********'s coverage on September 26, 2013.If ******** still requires treatment and has questions on her plan benefits, she is welcome to contact the Director of Operations directly at ###-###-#### Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm.