July 13, 2007 10:03 PM   Subscribe

"Not intended for residents of Texas or Massachusetts". Any idea why not?

So this commercial for an online school claims that it is not "intended" for residents of Texas or Mass. Any idea why not? Is it somehow violating state law in those places?
posted by Paris Hilton to Law & Government (7 answers total)
Westwood College is a franchise-based organization. They cannot offer online course to students within territories covered by non-aligned franchises, because they would then be cannibalizing the businesses of their franchise partners.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:12 PM on July 13, 2007

That's plausible, but I don't think it matches the map (why not CA, where there are several other Westwood campuses?). More likely it has something to do with state licensing requirements for online education. It may actually have to do with state funding for technical and vocational schools.

Alternatively, it could have something to do with accreditation, although I see that more than one Texas entity is accredited by the same organization.
posted by dhartung at 10:32 PM on July 13, 2007

That's plausible

It's not plausible. It's the real answer.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:52 AM on July 14, 2007

"Real answer" or not, CPB, dhartung seems to be correct in that the map you've linked to doesn't seem to agree.

Perhaps you could expand on your explanation?
posted by Reggie Digest at 4:02 AM on July 14, 2007

This Digg comment suggests that a modified version of the ad runs in Texas with a local phone number.
posted by Partial Law at 8:47 AM on July 14, 2007

Cool Papa, you may have a point. I'm just curious then how you know, or whether you're deriving that from the map. Because from the map it would seem that CA, TX, GA, MD, and IL (the other Westwood College locations) would be the exclusions. Or those plus NV, FL, NY and CT (the TSI locations). They don't have any facilities in MA at all. So why exclude a state where they have no franchises, while not excluding states where they do? Finally, that page on close reading seems to be saying that TSI is a franchise, not Westwood. According to that page, "the company operates" all Westwood locations.

OK, because I'm a dork about these things, and it's their dime, I called the 800 number. I spoke to an admissions officer who explained that in both states it was slightly different but basically had to do with state laws regarding residential requirements and in TX specifically their campuses only offer associate's degrees, while the game design program is a bachelor's (except that maybe it wasn't a big deal if I signed up for the online course instead). He didn't know more specifically than that. Then I had to sort of firmly close things out because it was, after all, a sales call. ;-)
posted by dhartung at 12:52 PM on July 14, 2007

I'm just curious then how you know, or whether you're deriving that from the map.

I know because I know; I've worked with them in a professional capacity. I'm not deriving it from the map.

You have to know how franchises work. You license from the franchiser, allowing you to do business in their name with additional contractual obligations (e.g. if you franchise a restaurant, you use their equipment, menu, suppliers, etc). To prevent the franchisees from competing with each other, they are assigned territories in which they can exclusively operate without interference from other franchisees (i.e. it makes no sense for two Westwood Colleges to open across the street from one another).

That being said, the franchisees have capabilities to differentiate themselves from one another, to a limited degree. For example, not all McDonalds are exactly the same. There could be subtle menu differences (Dippin' Dots, anyone?), differences in store layout (e.g. a Playspace), etc. Contrast this with T.G.I.Fridays, which is not a franchise operation -- every store is nearly identical in every degree, which lowers costs overall by creating a store "template" that can be replicated everywhere.

Westwood College Online is actually Westwood College Denver North. They offer an online curriculum, which means that the concept of a physical territory is irrelevant -- every student everywhere can log in and get the curriculum. To prevent this franchisee from harming the licensed franchisees in other territories, the online courses run specifically by Westwood College Denver North are not available to students that meet certain criteria (e.g. self-identifing as living in certain areas).

a modified version of the ad runs in Texas with a local phone number

What happened here is that the franchisees shared the cost of creating the ad, allowing the Texas franchises to run them with their own number (and bear the cost of paying to run those ads in their territory), and share the enrollment fees of students generated by the Texas ads. In other words, Denver turned Texas into a commissioned salesforce for the curriculum offered by Denver.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:30 PM on July 14, 2007

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