The “Video Professor” is a company that used to sell computer training software in the form of CD/DVD video lessons. The company’s founder, John Scherer, was recognizeable to many as he appeared on the firm’s TV commercials. I use the past tense here, because the company as it existed is no longer in business. Read below for more details on that. Another firm acquired their domain name, (videoprofessor.com) but it appears to be an entirely separate company with it’s own separate product.
I wrote the below blog past way back in 2005 to discuss the company’s marketing tactics. Many people felt they were getting ripped off. I’ll let you read this very long post and form your own opinions if you are interested. In the meantime, however, if you are simply looking for some good options to teach you various aspects of using the computer then please see the options below. They are software lessons offered by other companies (NOT Video Professor) and have good reviews on Amazon. Please note that I am an affiliate for these, and I do receive compensation should you purchase them. That said, no amount of compensation is worth a man’s integrity, and I would not list them if I felt they were poor products.
If you are a former Video Professor customer and just someone who wants to read about the drama and fallout related to them, then skip the ads and read the original blog post below.
THE ORIGINAL BLOG POST:
You know I’ve always wondered how “The Video Professor” made money on his computer lesson CDs that were “free”, so long as you pay the $6.95 shipping charge… I had just assumed that it was a cheap product and maybe cost him $1-2 to produce and ship, and then he made $5 per lesson profit, using the “free” bit as a marketing gimmic of sorts.
According to what I’ve read from others online, my assumption above is apparently not entirely accurate… although I’m sure they do pull a profit with just the shipping. It seems as though you get a free lesson, or more accurately you get 2 free lessons. However, they ship you a set of 3 lessons, on 3 CDs, and you have to return the third within 10 days or they charge you $70+ for disk 3, whereas the first two are free.
If you’ve seen this guy’s TV commercials you may well feel as though this is completely misleading. Many customers of theirs have claimed there is specific intent to deceive the customer into thinking they are receiving a free lesson with no strings attached. Indeed, there are strings attached – if you don’t return one of the disks they send you within 10 days then you get charged a hefty fee. Many consumers claim that they hide this detail (so you don’t return it) and then they charge you b/c it was written in the fine print.
I have no first-hand information, so I must go on what I’ve read from others. If this is true, then they profit on deception and trickery rather than on good marketing, solid business principals, a good product or happy customers.
That sickens me.
I can’t stand it when others resort to sketchy scams to try and get rich where as the rest of us work honest jobs to make a living. Not playing by the rules whereas the rest of us are.
Let me make it clear though that I’ve not ordered from Video Professor, and as such I do not have the first-hand experience. Rather, I’ve found other websites that refer to VP’s business practices as a scam, and its hard to disagree with the points that are made. Its also hard to think that everything is 100% legit when you read some of the comments on this post (see below).
As they say – Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
Here are a few more links about their hidden charges scam:
- Rip Off Report
- Infomercial Scams – has 47 complaints (as of my writing this) that are personal stories from others.
note: now its 113 complaints on the above site
And now here are a couple of funny videos:
Update: 12/23/2006 – I just approved a few new comments on this post, one from a former employee. Wow. There is more negative sentiment here than I expected. In the interest of fair time, has anyone had a good experience with Video Professor?
Update: 07/20/2007 – So apparently the folks at Video Professor have found this web page. I’m hoping they’ve actually read it rather than just jumped to conclusions. They have expressed to me that they want to help resolve the concerns and issues of their customers, which I find refreshing. I have offered yet again to approve any official post or blog comment from them, should they wish to publicly join the conversation. My intent here is not to slander or beat them up unfairly. My intent is to enable people to share their experiences good or bad, and hopefully enable those with poor experiences with Video Professor to get the resolution they are looking for. I don’t see how that’s a bad thing for anybody.
Update: 07/20/07 (#2)
Here’s their disclaimer that I’ve been searching for. It explains how really its a “trial offer” and if you elect to keep all three discs then they will charge you, otherwise you can keep two of them but must call them about returning the third disc within 10 days otherwise you will be charged. Note that this disclaimer only applies to web orders and may differ from that of the other ordering channels, though the general principal appears to be the same to me.
I have received a comment from Video Professor addressing the allegations of some of those who have commented in this blog. I have approved the comment below (Comment #30) and will also copy and paste it below. Note that I have no authentication that this is an “official” comment, though the author claims to be from Video Professor and according to my website analytics package they appear to be accessing from Video Professor’s network.
Video Professor is eager to help our customers with their concerns. Please contact our Executive Customer Assurance Department directly at (800) 500-1183. You will be responded to within one business day. You may also email us by visiting www.letvideoprofessorhelp.com.
Update 12/16/2007 – I found a few new links about Video Professor’s “marketing tactics” and some lawsuits they have against website owners and anonymous critics (people posting blog comments anonymously). I’m going to refrain from providing much commentary, I’ll let you make up your own mind. It certainly seems as though a lot of people have had many bad experiences with Video Professor and I can’t see any motivation for these people to lie. I know I’ve found them terribly unprofessional and just plain mean in my dealings with them concerning their dislike of this webpage. They claim people are spreading lies about them for financial gain. I have no financial gain here. I do not make any money off of this blog. I just don’t like dishonest business tactics.
Another Update: I removed a link to an outside site as it was brought to my attention that the site has since been taken down. When this post first went live years ago, there were many other blog posts just like it. Today, most of those seem to have been taken down, removed, deleted, etc.
Update 09/26/2012 – It’s been 7 years since I first wrote this post, and it now appears that VIDEO PROFESSOR WENT OUT OF BUSINESS. This happened almost 2 years ago but since they went out of business I figured no more harm was being done to the general public so I didn’t bother to post about it. I’m doing so now simply because many people are still searching for V.P. and aren’t sure what has happened. Here are a few links to sources about this:
Notice for all blog comments on this post:
If you wish to post a comment, I ask that you do so objectively and without profanity. If you feel wronged or scammed by Video Professor, than by all means voice yourself. That said, do it tastefully as a civilized person please.
Additionally, I reserve the right to share any information that I gather when you post a comment. This may include your name (as recorded), email address, IP address, date/time of your comment and your comment itself. I will not do so for commercial purposes, or to spam, you, etc. I will only share such information as it relates to a) helping resolve your dispute or b) in conjunction with legal considerations.
I also ask that you include your real name and real email address when commenting so that Video Professor may contact you to resolve your dispute.
Valid complaints, concerns, warnings, etc. are appropriate. I don’t particularly like Video Professor so no complaint here. That said, this will not be a senseless bashing of their company.