A documented report of an online scam with an exposé of some of the vile business practices of
"As"As seen on TV!"
as experienced by John Baumgaertner.
Thanks to friends for hosting this page on the web for me.
everyone has seen the kindly-looking, older gentleman on TV in
advertisements for his computer tutorials. A more elaborate pitch is
made on his website. After my recent experience with his company, I
have to wonder if "John W Scherer" is his real name or if that is what he
really looks like. Below is a screen capture of what suckered me in. Looks good, doesn't it?
Free discs? After returning the package they sent per my online order (for a free, trial disc) of May 14th, Video Professor still owes me 189.95 on my credit card plus postage for the return. Below is a chronology of my online "purchase" and failed attempts to get a refund after returning it. Included is a download of my latest telephone conversations with a customer "care" representative. If any of this sounds unbelievable, especially regarding the extent of the vile business practices of such a large company, simply Google: "video professor scams"
As you will see, there are plenty of people who got sucked in besides myself. A list of links to similar reports can be found near the bottom of this page. One of them alone contains 224 complaints! [UPDATE: 264]
May 14th, 2009 - morning: Ordered my "free" trial disc for eBay on the Video Professor website. Same day, several hours after hearing from a friend that Video Professor was scamming people, I called Customer Support 800-519-4110 to cancel. I was told that "your online order is not in the system yet. Call back tomorrow morning and we will be happy to cancel it."
May 15th: I called in the morning and was told my order had already been shipped but if I return it within ten days I will get a refund. (Ten days? !!!) I had to make special arrangements from a job I was doing out of state to check with my PO box back in my home town (Ponce de Leon, Florida) so I could return it on time. By now I had Googled enough scam reports of Video Professor to know it was important to make that ten-day deadline.
May 20th: Called Customer Care and reported that the package had arrived, but it was not what I had ordered. It was a full, eBay disc set of three! My rep was "Tabatha". I informed her that I did not try any of the discs because I didn't want to pay 189.95 for them, I had originally just wanted to sample the free disc. After informing me that I had not read thoroughly the customer agreement page (does anyone?) I reminded her that legitimate businesses have the order details on the order page, not in the legal issues box. She gave me a return number # SPSE 123 386. I repeated the number to ensure I had it correct. Later I looked once more at that customer agreement (a separate page) and in the middle, in fine print, is part of the scam spelled out, but only part).
May 22nd: I mailed the unit USPS priority with "delivery confirmation" #0308 1400 0000 7231 5578 to Video Professor at the Colorado address given me on the product info section for returns.
2590 W. 2nd Ave, Unit 15, Denver, Colorado, 80219
May 26th: 4 days later, USPS confirmed delivery at 12:48 pm — 4 days within the 10-day limit.
June 16th: Although I had previously been docked 4.95 for shipping for the "free" disc, my credit card was docked an additional 189.95 USD. Now I no longer have the money or the product! I called Customer service and got "Tanasha". She said that "the item was not returned in ten days." I mentioned the delivery confirmation and she told me that the warehouse "has not received it at all." Although she was pleasant sounding enough (all of them are) she was not interested in my delivery confirmation and did not ask for proof. She promised to call the warehouse and "see what they are doing over there". This raised a flag, her wording about the warehouse, but I let it go and asked her not to let this drop.
(Dates not recorded): I tried calling Customer Care the next week, and the week after that, but was put on hold forever and I did not have the time or the patience for it. I finally decided, however, that the next time I called I would put the call on speaker and try to keep working while I waited, despite the dumb music they play. I also set up a telephone recording device. From reading other victim reports, a frequent complaint was they put you off by stating the refund will take 21 to 30 days. Is Video Professor hoping the customer will eventually give up? Multiply that by untold numbers of customers and you get the picture.
July 17, 2009: I called Customer Care, and after their system picked up and I was told that the conversation may be recorded, I announced that the telcom would be recorded on my end as well. After being on hold for maybe ten minutes, I got "Rwanda". My recording can be downloaded here. The only cutting I did was the removal of the long pauses while on hold, which reduces the recording's length from 19 1/2 minutes to 6 1/2. The un-edited recording can be had on request. Here is the download. Choose the MP3 (6mb) or the WAV file (8.5mb).
Regarding the editing: I am an older dude, and have problems speaking in telephone conversations. I get tongue-tied frequently, etc., and there are segments of the conversation which I could have edited out to make my end sound better, but I did not do that. Not a single word is missing from either party. If you do not want to spend the time listening, here is a brief
Summary of the call to "Customer Care":After looking up my account (via my name, as is their practice, no order numbers from online purchases were used) the person using the name "Rwanda" reiterated what I was told on previous calls, that my return was not received. When I told her I had a delivery confirmation from the USPS she said she would try to get a supervisor. It is doubtful this was done. She returned with "all the supervisors are busy right now." When I told her that I was planning to put my complaint on a web page and report it to private and government agencies, we went through the "try to get a supervisor" routine again. When she returned she said that "he authorized a refund, but with the billing department that would take 21 to 30 days." I then told her I wanted the refund by Monday, that any legitimate business can do it while we are speaking, and my Google-compliant web page will stay up until the refund appears. In the background, while I was interrupting her, you can hear her say that by refunding my money "we are doing you a favor." When I repeated my earlier announcement that I was recording the telcom, she hung up on me mid-sentence. Can't say I blame her for that!
Google: video professor scams (Use the plural, "video professor scams". Video Professor is now trying to sell scam avoidance tutoring (!) and this often puts them on top of numerous complaint results when using search engines. Smart fraudsters they seem to be!.
Note that some of the links to fraud reports from the Google search will have been removed from the internet. Video Professor apparently found a way to keep positive reports at the top of the Google results, and some rebuttals may have been made by Video Professor employees or family members.
A link to other Video Professor scam reports: Ripoffreport.com (227 reports going back 7 years)
August 31st: Still no refund, near 200 bucks, and it is well over "21 to 30 days"! Ripoffreport.com adds 25 new complaints from ripped off customers!
September 2nd, 11:05AM: Another call to Customer Care
Scored "Sheila", another pleasant-sounding representative. Sheila had trouble finding my account via my name and phone number, but after she was finally able to bring up my file she gave me a customer number, which I can use in the future. (E339**64). She claimed that the "billing department" is in a separate facility and she cannot communicate with them to find out what is going on there. (Same excuse the last time I called). She also asked me to be patient and that I should call back if my refund does not appear in my bank account by Friday.
My virus-checked recording of this conversation can be downloaded here. The original recording (longer) is the WAV file and the shorter, edited MP3 version eliminates the pauses while on hold.
October 5th, 2009: The link to other Video Professor scam reports, mentioned above, is now up from 227 reports to 264). : Ripoffreport.com
October 7th, 2009, 10:05AM: Another call to Customer Care
I checked my credit card account to see if my refund had been sent. Nope! It has been over four months now since they received my return, and the total comes to 194 dollars if I don't include the cost of shipping. I called "Customer Care" again at 10:05AM and my rep this time was one I had scored before, "Tabatha". She found my account immediately this time and said that on on the 22nd of September my refund had been "escalated" by a supervisor, meaning an override of previous decisions had been made. She then started counting on her fingers and came to the conclusion I can expect the refund on the 13th of October. "It can take up to ten to fifteen business days." I mentioned that it has been over four months since I returned the product and I have every detail documented on a website, and that yesterday a lawyer had contacted me asking if I wanted to join a class action suit. (True). That did not seem to phase Tabatha a bit, so we exchanged pleasantries and ended the conversation. This conversation was also recorded although my recording warning is missing since I was not put on hold and didn't mash the REC button fast enough to catch it.
October 13th, 2009: Partial reimbursement received!
$189.95 was paid back into my credit card account! As for the above mentioned contact by a lawyer, add two more in as many days and the fact that search engines have begun finding this web page. "Escalation" of refund due to this online exposure? Care to guess?
November 2nd to 4th, 2009: More hassles, no compensation
Because I am convinced John Scherer is deliberately fraudulent, I changed all auto-payment protocols I have with various merchants which use the same card number I gave to Video Professor. That done, I had the bank invalidate that particular card. I saw one complaint online where a customer was finally re-paid only to have the same amount deducted months later from the same credit-card account. I have no way of proving this happened, but I don't want it to happen to me. I have already spent too much valuable time trying to get what was previously stolen returned. My time will never be repaid.
Looks so nice, easy, and safe, doesn't it?
If you Google back far enough, it appears that this disgusting business practice has been going on for years. Perhaps complaining online or to the government is a waste of time with these people, but how many of us can afford to take legal action? If you are the person who was eventually reimbursed and then hit again for the same amount months later, email me or post that story on one of the more comprehensive websites which are exposing this fraud. If any of you who have been victimized and live near this guy, or near members of his family, bring it to their attention face to face. Keep it legal, though. Don't bring yourself down to John Scherer's level.
Here is what a free offer should look like and should be!