By George Gombossy, CTwatchdog.com
The television advertisements by the “Video Professor” seem so sincere that even a Connecticut police chief fell for the pitch.
The first lesson is free; you only pay for shipping and handling, Video Professor John W. Scherer tells us in the ads that appear frequently on late night television.
What he doesn’t tell us is that when you call the 800 number for the free “how to sell on eBay” or “how to use Windows” programs, you are also agreeing to pay additional videos that could cost you hundreds of dollars you quickly cancel the order.
Even then, many report having problems getting the charges removed from their credit cards. It took months of protests to his credit card company before Wethersfield Police Chief James Cetran was able to get his $189.95 payment back for videos he said he never ordered.
“The only conclusion from this is that Video Professor is in the business of ripping people off,” Cetran said. “I just can’t believe how this blatant scam is occurring and no one in the federal government is stopping it.”
The Video Professor company did not respond to a request for comment on Cetran’s complaint and the complaints of hundreds of others that can be found on the Internet.
Cetran said he wanted to learn about eBay. Last September he went to the Video Professor’s website, where he signed up for the “free” program, admittedly without reading all the fine print.
He said he received a three disk set but did not have the time to immediately look at it. However, three weeks later he discovered that instead of a nominal shipping and handling charge, he was charged $189.95 on his Discover card.
He immediately called the 800 number and said he was told that if he sent them back, the charges would be reversed. He did so, within the 30-day period specified on the site, he said.
As of late November the charge had not been reversed, so he called again. He was told that that his shipment was received back in time, but it would take 30 days to give him his money back. In December – you can guess by now – he again called and “Cindy” assured him that there must have been a mistake and she would ask a supervisor to “expedite the reimbursement.”
At the end of December Cetran called again, and of course another mistake had taken place, but the payment would be made soon, he said he was told.
By mid-January, he gave up and filed a complaint with Discover, which removed the charge. However, Video Professor contested the removal and the charge was reinstated.
It took until Spring for Cetran to have the charge reversed.
This is what you can do to protect yourself: don’t believe anyone who tells you something is free; go to the Better Business Bureau and Amazon sites to see ratings and reviews; and use PayPal to pay for Internet purchases.
While in this case the BBB would not be helpful because it has no rating or information on the company, Amazon has reviews from hundreds of people who said they were scammed. Internet consumer sites also have hundreds of complaints. What is great about PayPal is that not only can you contest charges, each time you pay using it there is a new credit card number that is generated that can only be used once.
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George Gombossy can be reached at email@example.com or you can send him a letter at Connecticut Watchdog, PO Box 23, East Longmeadow, Ma., 01028.
He will respond to as many inquiries and complaints as time permits. Please check out ctWatchdog.com for other consumer, health and finance tips.
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