Well, isn’t life funny? One of the world’s oldest auction houses has stepped up as a pioneer in the battle to end the nightmare of graduate exit fees.

When we saw the Christie’s logo on Sparta Global’s website, we were a little surprised — but it seems that the auction house has used the services of a previous incarnation of Sparta, then known as Testing Circle.

However, this was four years ago. And, when we asked questions about links between Christie’s and Sparta Global, it’s fair to say their spokesperson was pretty unimpressed. First, she condemned that practice of exit fees, and then she expressed irritation that the Christie’s brand was being linked to a company they no longer work with. Taking their response as a whole, it is clear that Christie’s (founded in 1766!) have stated they will never work with Sparta again.

In the most impressive and robust response we have received so far from any client (or former client) of any of the exit fees firms, the Christie’s spokesperson wrote:

“Thank you for being in touch with Christie’s and for drawing our attention to the matter in hand – we are in complete agreement with you regarding the practice of charging exit fees to graduates and this is something we have not and would not participate in.

“For your information please find here – https://www.christies.com/about-us/christies-graduate-training-programme/ – information regarding the graduate training programme we run out of London and New York, an important opportunity for graduates to gain hands on experience, develop a broader understanding of their chosen profession and to receive support in building key skills.

“Regarding Sparta, Christie’s hasn’t engaged them in respect of any graduate scheme. We can confirm that in 2017-2018 we engaged a company called Testing Circle, a previous incarnation of what is now Sparta, to provide the services of three IT consultants, and we haven’t used their services subsequent to that for the past four years.

“We were pleased you drew our attention to this, realising our logo erroneously appears on the case studies page on their website (presumably hence you coming to us). We’ve therefore been in touch with Sparta and have asked for them to remove our name as we don’t use their services.”

SURPRISINGLY MODERN: Christie’s was founded in 1776, but has proved to be a pioneer when it comes to speaking out about graduate exit fees. Will others follow?

Firms that charge large exit fees often use their seemingly impressive client list to make graduates feel confident about signing their contract, despite the inclusion of clauses which say they must pay back large fees if they leave in less than two years. But this incident with Sparta raises questions about whether their list are always up to date. Current Sparta graduates must pay up to £8,000 if they leave in less than two years. At one point this sum was £22,000.

Christie’s — the world’s oldest auctioneer of fine art — joins a growing list of well-known employers who have distanced themselves from firms that charge large exit fees. Earlier this week, Virgin Media O2 said they would no longer use FDM, and Three said they would ditch Sparta. Last year, Severn Trent said that they have never used any of the exit fees firms, and they never will.

Other clients of Sparta Global appear to include Channel 4, Savills, EasyJet, Bupa, the Home Office, Jet2, MBNA, and FitFlop, who are yet to respond to our questions.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap