By Mark Huffman
June 30, 2010
Chances are, you won't be seeing those commercials for Video Professor, which once dominated cable-TV, anytime soon.
The Colorado firm, which offered free samples of its computer tutorial CDs and was a source of numerous consumer complaints about its negative option marketing, has drastically reduced operations.
"It seems as though Video Professor is now out of business," Joanne, of Vineland, N.J., told ConsumerAffairs.com.
Joanne came to that conclusion, she said, because she tried to return some merchandise to the company in late April but was told by UPS that it was unable to deliver it.
The Denver Post reported earlier this month that the company had slashed its operations and was giving away its products. It said the parking lot was nearly empty and the building lobby was closed and dark.
When a reporter called the offices, she heard a recording that said Video Professor "is currently transitioning to a new business plan."
The old business plan drew plenty of complaints. Video Professor commercials promised a free CD, with company president John Scherer explaining, "We're so sure you'll like this product you'll turn to us for all your computer learning needs."
But consumers who got the free CD's often found they were enrolled in a negative option subscription plan unless they cancelled it within a very short time. The additional CDs were anything but free.
"I ordered Video Professor with the impression that I was only to try it for the shipping and handling charges," Caroline, of Sacramento, Calif., told ConsumerAffairs.com "I changed my mind about it. I called to cancel but it was too late. I sent it back at the post office. In a few days a large amount of $189.95 appeared on my credit card. Thirty days later new charge appeared on my card for another video professor that I did not order of $389.95."
Unfortunately for Caroline and other consumers, finding someone at Video Professor to talk with is going to be tough. The company's website says the customer service department has been closed, it is no longer processing credit card transactions, and can't make refunds.
Joanne from New Jersey advises those who paid by credit card to report it as an unauthorized charge and demand a charge-back.
"Do not take no for an answer," she told ConsumerAffairs.com. "I just got off the phone with my credit card company and had no trouble whatsoever."
On its website, Video Professor promised customers they would get a refund at some point, but didn't say when. As recently as four years ago, the company was one of Colorado's success stories, with 300 employees and more than $100 million in annual revenue.