Everyone keeps calling Video Professor’s “free trial” business a scam and the company is tired of hearing it.
The company got the rep because of the way its products are being advertised in Facebook games.
Here’s how TechCrunch described one such “scam”:
Users are offered in game currency if they sign up to receive a free learning CD from Video Professor. The user is told they pay nothing except a $10 shipping charge. But the fine print, on a different page from checkout, tells them they are really getting a whole set of CDs and will be billed $189.95 unless they return them. Most users never return them because they don’t know about the extra charge. Woot. Again, sites like Offerpal and SuperRewards flow these offers through to game developers.
To stop the madness, Video Professor says it’s cancelling “all promotions through the online games in the social media environment.”
It’s also writing angry emails to journalists. Here’s one from Brian Olson, VP of public affairs:
Multiple articles have been written in recent days dealing with various games and sponsor offers connected to them on sites like Facebook. These involve games like Farmville, Mafia Wars and Mobsters which are all hugely popular with millions of members playing them.
The stories centre on the theme that to play these games, one way to get additional dollars or other “currency” involved with the game, players can take advantage of advertising offers presented to them. They are simply that, offers. Not pursuing them in any way doesn’t prohibit anyone from playing.
Video Professor, Inc. has been mentioned in many of these stories, but it’s referred to only as a “scam.” There is assertion, but no attribution. Not one writer has contacted Video Professor to follow-up. Not one.
Therefore we will be proactive in answering questions, which unfortunately haven’t been asked of us.
First and foremost, it is imperative to understand that Video Professor did not directly place the advertisements in question. Video Professor has several ancillary sources of order volume, including what are called ‘affiliates.’ While we continually monitor how our products are marketed on the Internet, the reality is that there are hundreds of affiliates and sub-affiliates that drive order volume on behalf of Video Professor. As a result, it becomes extremely difficult to directly manage the placement of every single advertisement. The Video Professor ads in games like Farmville, Mafia Wars and Mobsters were the result of affiliate actions, and were not directly initiated by Video Professor.
Video Professor continuously samples various marketing methods, marketing channels, and advertising networks to promote our established computer learning lessons. We determined that those who participated in the online games did not exhibit a sufficient interest in becoming Video Professor students, and weren’t looking to better themselves through computer learning. Video Professor has ceased all promotions through the online games in the social media environment.
Our online ordering process cannot proceed until the customer has checked a “How It Works” box which indicates they have fully read and understand the terms of the offer. A link is provided for the customer for them to read the language of the terms. Information regarding our review program is in the second and third sentences of the “How It Works”. This information was written in conjunction with the Better Business Bureau, of which we are a member and maintain an “A” rating. Our documented complaint rate vs total customer transactions is .0001%. The BBB reviews our ordering processes on a regular basis.
Again, the order CANNOT be processed without the customer clearly stating to us by checking the box, that yes, they understand. Only then can the order be processed. Orders cannot be “accidentally” made.
When the customer receives the lessons they ordered, enclosed is a Quick Start Guide. It measures 7 1/2 inches by 9 1/2 inches and at the front has a full page entitled “What you need to know about your review program.” (Happy to send you a hard copy if you request)
It provides the customer with full details of the review program, along with an 800 number should they decide to return them. FYI, the customer only needs to return one of the three CD’s, and can keep the other two at no additional charge or obligation should they decide to cancel their order.
When the customer calls, they are given a return authorization number so we know immediately when it’s received and can process a refund if necessary. The customer also has the option to request the review time be extended to a full 20 days. The Quick Start Guide also reiterates our billing process that the customer agreed to when placing the order online.
The customer is informed during the ordering process and again in the Quick Start Guide that should they decide to keep the full lesson set, they will be billed. Customers also have the option of either continuing to receive lessons for review, or cancel out of the review program which they agreed to when ordering.
There is no “Fine Print.”
Additionally, Video Professor has an Escalated Customer Assurance Team which can be reached at 800-500-1183.
Not when the customer first has to indicate they understand and agree to terms, that the terms are followed up with upon delivery, and the customer can cancel and return within a fair period of time.
Sales agreements are just that, agreements. Once the customer tells us they want to order, we fill that order as promised. But as the BBB itself has told us, “At a certain point in any transaction, the customer has a responsibility too. Your offer cannot be made more clear.”