- Report: #990248
Report - Rebuttal - Arbitrate
Complaint Review: 123College.com TRUSTED BUSINESS | Ripoff Report Verified Safe™ …businesses you can trust. 123College.com assists students for all undergraduate years with: board exam test preparation, choosing a major, choosing a college or university, financial aid negotiations, FAFSA / CSS Profile filing, & maximizing financial aid eligibility to get the most grants, scholarships. 123College.com one of largest nationwide college planning companies.
123college.com1701 W. Hillsboro Blvd., Suite 303, Deerfield Beach, Florida United States of America
123College.com, Inc. REVIEW: 123College.com, Inc. dedicated to service quality and customer satisfaction. 123College strives to offer the most value and best service in the college planning industry.
*UPDATE: 123College.com, Inc. pledges commitment to Ripoff Report Corporate Advocacy, Business Remediation & Customer Satisfaction Program. A program that benefits consumers, ensuring complete satisfaction, confidence when doing business with a member business. 123College.com, Inc. recognized by Ripoff Report Verified™ as a safe business service.
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EDitor's UPDATE: Positive rating and recognition has been given to 123College.com for its full commitment to quality customer service.
Ripoff Report's discussions with 123College.com have uncovered an ongoing dedication by the company to total client satisfaction. This means that clients can expect that the company will work towards finding a mutually satisfactory resolution to any concerns. 123College.com listens carefully to client concerns and sees them as an opportunity to learn from past mistakes and become more efficient as a company in the services offered and the support for those services.
123College.com's principal, Mr. Ronald Jay, shared with us his personal philosophy that building valuable relationships are the heart of the business. [continued below]....
One of the things Ripoff Report learned in the course of its review is that typical customer feedback reads, "123College.com really helped us understand our options and showed ways to save money on college costs that we weren't aware of. We are very pleased with the responsive, detail-oriented service. They are serious about meeting commitments, and deliver on their promises.”
Ripoff Report Verified™ .. part of Ripoff Report Corporate Advocacy Business Remediation & Customer Satisfaction Program.A program that benefits the consumer, assures them of complete satisfaction and confidence when doing business with a member business..
The information provided in this report below is based on comments made by Ronald Jay and Deborah Lester during an onsite inspection held by a third party verification company with no biases toward 123 College.com.
123 College.com is a college planning company that works with financial advisors, as well as educates parents and prospective students throughout the process of applying to college. Ronald Jay the President of 123 College.com further explained the companies vision, "we sell a prospecting tool to financial advisers and insurance agents all over the country. They make money two ways with us. We sell a prospecting tool that they pay anywhere from $4,000 to $7,000 for. To get them setup we supply them with seminars. We get them into their local high schools. Basically, the whole business is parents that put dollars into their annuities. Those dollars aren’t accessed against their financial aid formulas so it lowers the parents EFC (Expect Family Contribution) or in other words their out of pocket costs. They sell our service and we do ten things for the family, to the parents for $1495, which the adviser gets $795 and 100% of the product sells commission. The ten things that we do for the family the most important are filling their FAFSA forms, producing a 80 – 90 page bound report that shows them all info on up to six different colleges that their interested in attending. We give them the SAT/ACT software, a pin number for a career assessment and college select program, and we negotiate with the financial aid officer playing school A off against school B, C, and D and three or four other things depending on the client’s needs."
The leads for 123 College.com are obtained in multiple ways, "we have a data base of every financial adviser and insurance agent across the country. We have telemarketers that call them and we do email blasts as well." After the initial contact is made Mr. Jay went into greater detail to explain the sales process of 123 College.com, "normally they are contacted in a seminar that 123 College.com sets up for them. The adviser does a seminar for them. Goes over what is called our promise, our ten points of the service that we provide for the family and we produce a report that shows the family why they should use our service out of the ten points and the insurance or financial adviser has an opportunity to sell their products."
123COLLEGE.COM CUSTOMER CARE & COMPLAINT RESOLUTION
During the onsite interview, Mr. Jay was asked to describe a situation where a client was not satisfied with the level of service they received. Mr. Jay began by assuring future clients, "we try to make everyone as satisfied as we can. I would say 95 percent of our clients are satisfied." He went on to explain that most of the complaints they receive are from the financial advisors and insurance agents who are selling 123 College.com's product. In order to counter this dissatisfaction 123 College.com made new management, quality control, and customer service their priority. Apart of this initiative involved Deborah Lester, the Sales Manager for 123 College.com, taking responsibility for customer service. Ms. Lester further explains by stating, "I’m in quality control as well as assisting Ronald Jay. So every call that comes in I pretty much take each call. I have it recorded actually on one of the phone pads. I make sure that I do follow up. With any issue I notify Ronald Jay immediately and then we get in resolved within 24 hours." This change has been exceptionally positive, "now we’re getting compliments and their saying 'thank you so much' and 'I appreciate that there is always a follow up'." Ms. Lester also makes a point to call each client and ask them about their experience, and if an issue is made known in that conversation she makes to resolve it then and there.
When asked to comment on complaints posted on Ripoff Report's website Mr. Jay informed us that he believes the comments are false, "one guy said that he was an employee and he wasn’t an employee." In regards to the comments Ms. Lester went on to state that past employee's struggled with drug addiction, which lead to a negative work environment, "that was a big problem that we had no control of. We didn’t know that in the beginning now we are implementing drug testing." Ms. Lester went on to assure us that she is heavily involved in the day to day practices of the office, and employee satisfaction is critical, "I manage everybody in our department so when I’m following up they say everything is going along well. The only time there is really a complaint is when they really can't close [a sell], and like I’m even helping them with marketing so that their closing ratio is getting a lot higher."
When asked what type of changes they have made to honor their commitment to make things right with the customer per the request of Ripoff Report, Ms. Lester stated, "Now that I’m involved it’s changed the whole business model. And we haven’t had any complaints since. For about the last eight months since the change." It should also be noted that the past operations manager is no longer with the company, and was cause for lack of proper customer service care.
123 College.com is pleased to be a part of Ripoff Reports Corporate Advocacy Business Remediation and Customer Satisfaction Program. Mr. Jay further explains by stating, "it is only going to help the consumer and it is only going to help us. It’s a good thing hopefully for both parties."
123COLLEGE.COM / STATEMENT FROM THE PRESIDENT RONALD JAY
"We are the leading college planning company for helping families understand and truly benefit from the financial aid system. With us, you'll receive comprehensive services and personalized analysis to maximize the student's success and education value. We are a team that goes to bat to save our clients money and minimize student debt, with financial strategies tailored to the family's unique needs."
123College.com's team expressed confidence in their ability to deliver excellent service and support. 123College.com takes employee satisfaction seriously as well. Employee feedback and surveys reveal comments such as this, "123College provides a very positive environment to work. Suggestions for innovation and improvements are encouraged. Mr. Jay is truly concerned about our contribution to the company and providing growth opportunities for us. He takes the time to listen and communicate with employees and clients.”
Ripoff Report was pleased to learn that 123College.com, Inc.'s past and current approach to business is focused on its pledge to total commitment towards client and employee satisfaction.
WHY 123COLLEGE IS THE PERFECT PARTNER FOR GUIDANCE COUNSELORS AND FINANCIAL AID OFFICERS
"Guidance counselors and college financial aid officers are a part of your child’s educational team, and play specific roles in helping him/her get into college. 123 College supplements their efforts and provides services that they often can not. Guidance counselors can help students research schools, get information about the SAT or ACT, and help them with the application process.
However, what is the most financially beneficial way for parents to actually pay for college? And how can they position themselves to receive the most financial aid possible? These are questions that the vast majority of guidance counselors cannot answer. Why, because guidance counselors are great educational professionals, but they are not licensed financial professionals. Guidance counselors can certainly help you fill out forms, but when filing the FAFSA or CSS Profile a financial professional trained in college planning would be able to go beyond that and offer legal strategies that help to maximize financial aid eligibility.
Similarly, financial aid officers can give you information about their specific college and help you fill out forms. However, what school in your chosen area is the best financial choice for your child? This is not a question that financial aid officers often answer. Why, because they may be experts on their school but it is not their job to give students a cost comparison and send them to another school if it happens to be a better financial choice. Financial aid officers work for their schools, whereas our only allegiance is to your family."
NEGOTIATING COLLEGE COSTS
"Every year millions of high school graduates look forward to entering a college of their dreams. Often, acceptance letters do not equate to admission. Finances stand in the way of many children attending colleges that have already accepted them. Education, however, is a necessity; it is not a luxury. Financial aid encourages young adults to continue education without worrying about finances all the time.
One of the preliminary prerequisites for obtaining monetary aid for education is the completion of the online FAFSA (Free Application for Student Federal Aid). Filling out the FAFSA is generally a long and tedious process, which 123College handles completely for the family. Tax documentation of the family as well as W2s should be collected prior to FAFSA preparation. This aid form will request every possible financial detail about the parents of the student and the student herself. Federal requirements mandate that this form be completed between January 1 and June 1 of each year, beginning as early as the student’s junior year of high school.
Another step involved in the aid process involves the College Board. A CSS (College Scholarship Service) Profile, also called the Financial Aid Profile, has to be filled out for certain schools and sent to the universities of the students’ choice. Most prestigious schools, such as New York University and Harvard, require the filling out of this profile. Colleges then request any additional information needed via mail.
Again, this is done via the CSS Profile. The College Board sets up an IDOC account for the student. 123College prepares and submits this on behalf of the students. Afterwards, the student can check the status of the materials sent in IDOC. The CSS Profile and IDOC requirements are not easy to fulfill without the type of assistance provided by college planner such as 123College.
Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form allows a student to be eligible for quite a few kinds of college grants. Grants are financial aid awarded by the federal government. Generally, aid is awarded by the federal government, the state government, private universities, private colleges and public agencies. Also, private companies, corporations and foundations try to partially support a student’s education.
Amongst the college grants that are handed out is the Pell Grant. In one way, one can consider the Pell Grant to have been paid by the citizens of the United States. The amount handed out to each student depends on the student’s financial background, including the income of the student’s family. For the 2012-13 academic year, the maximum amount paid by the Pell Grant was $5,500.
If a student is awarded the Pell Grant and needs further assistance, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant comes into play. This Grant is reserved for the families with the lowest incomes. For students who graduated from high school with honors and have completed at least the first year of college, the Academic Competitiveness (AC) Grant is available. The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant is awarded to third and fourth year college students who would be unable to otherwise fund their education. It is a degree-specific grant.
Grants do not have to be paid back. However, student loans are required to be paid back. Nonetheless, most of these loans have little interest. The interest is also tax deductible for most people. Work-study is another way to help finance one’s way through college. This is one option that many students of undergraduate programs choose.
Another way to finance education is to apply for college scholarships. Scholarships are available to average students who have other talents, which are not necessarily academic. A GPA of 4.0 is not an absolute necessity for scholarships. Private institutions usually sponsor college scholarships. Philanthropists sponsor them as well. Different kinds of scholarships are available, even those for left-handed students!
The American Rhodes Scholarship is one great example of a scholarship. It chooses 32 intellectuals every year to sponsor. The value of the scholarship is a whopping $30,000. This trust even covers some adequate vacation and traveling costs for the scholars! The student is elected for two to three years.
The Coca Cola Company sponsors a program that allows eligible candidates to apply for 250 four-year scholarships based on achievements. Roughly 2200 students are selected as semi-finalists towards the end of the year from the applicant list. 250 final candidates are chosen. Each of these candidates is guaranteed to receive a minimum of $10,000. After a national selection committee reviews these 250 candidates, 50 special pupils are chosen and awarded $20,000 each.
After the students have filled out and submitted all the aid forms, sometimes the offers they get do not match their hopes or needs. This is when 123College comes into the equation. The main aim of 123college.com is to help all college-aspiring students. This website helps subscribers with preparation for board examinations, choosing a major and college, and minimizing that college expense.
Most importantly, this website helps to maximize aid eligibility. Once again, 123College helps pupils fill out the FAFSA, the CSS Profile and applications for scholarships. At 123College, aid officers cater to each family’s needs individually.
They let each family know about the colleges in their area and in any other part of the country and which school provides the best aid. They review the aid package given to students and send a response via mail to the family within ten business days. If the aid package is above average, the review tells the family how much more the student is getting and congratulates the student. If the aid package is below average, the aid officers fully go to bat for the family by first preparing a letter for the parents’ signature. The letter requests that the college offer aid up to the last penny of the total cost and asks for scholarships and grants too.
Choosing 123College to help with college decisions helps the child massively. The student receives a 75 to 90-page report talking about each and every individual aspect of aid according to income and assets.
For every aspiring college student or high school student’s parent out there, all aspects of financial aid have been explained. Now it is your turn to make the decisions wisely!"
STATED IMPROVEMENTS FROM 123COLLEGE.COM
123College.com, Inc. recognizes that complaints posted on Ripoff Report (whether true or not) are issues that need to be addressed, not ignored. If handled correctly, complaints can be valuable learning opportunities. With the feedback generated by Ripoff Report's review, 123College.com has made organizational changes allowing its clients and employees a more streamlined approach to problem resolution and a commitment to a great client experience.
In summary, after our review, which included discussions with Mr. Jay, Ripoff Report is convinced that 123College.com, Inc. is committed to quality delivery of services resulting in total client satisfaction.
Read more about why consumers should feel confident when doing business with a member of Ripoff Report's Corporate Advocacy Business Remediation & Customer Satisfaction Program. Yes, it’s a long name for a program that does a lot for both consumers and businesses alike.
Read about Ripoff Report Corporate Advocacy Business Remediation & Customer Satisfaction Program, a program that benefits the consumer, assures them of complete satisfaction and confidence when doing business with a member business. This program works.
As a matter of policy, when a business becomes a member of the Corporate Advocacy Program they agree to allow Ripoff Report to contact every client who filed a complaint so they can make things right with them. In order to confirm that the complaints were resolved, Ripoff Report is copied on all responses so we can insure that the member business did right by their customer.
NOW TO THE ORIGINAL REPORT THAT WAS FILED
123college.com Dont sign up without an attorney Deerfield Beach, Florida
ABOUT THE RIPOFF REPORT BELOW:
Ripoff Report would like to let readers know that Ripoff Report emailed this customer so the member business could make things right with them. When a business joins the Corporate Advocacy Program, Ripoff Report emails everyone from the past so the member business can make things right with them. Of course, everything within reason. In order to confirm that the complaints were resolved, Ripoff Report is copied on all responses so we can insure that the member business did right by their customer. Sadly, the author of the complaint below never responded to our request so 123College.com could have the opportunity to make things right with them.
STATEMENT FROM 123COLLEGE.COM:
Our internal support records don't agree with Aaron R's claims about ignored venue development, and the bits about old timeshare contracts and quarterly fees are frivolous. We don't charge quarterly fees, and after 17 years in business (when Aaron signed on), we had no reason to hack up old timeshare contracts as a model for our financing structure.'
The concept of 123 college.com works but will take a couple of years to get going IF you are in an area that has approachable school system, favorable family income and wants help with college enrollment. My area in South Florida is not like that. Other areas in the US will do better than South Florida.
Some things you must know before signing contract, paying $5000 franchise fee plus Annual $4800 associate fees and the $4-5000 marketing fees for each high school (about 6 a year).
1. The contract should be reviewed by an attorney. Mine said this was an old timeshare contract that the timeshare industry may not be allowed to use any longer, permitting quarterly $1200 charges.
2. I did not have it reviewed by an attorney as it seemed the verbal promises given by the owner of the company would be fulfilled. I was ignorant.
3. The owner of the company is very smart and experience. Make sure it is in writing as before you sign the contract, as there are no stopping future charges on your credit card.
1. Before signing the contract, I was provided with 4 references/agents. Each gave great reviews.
2. What I did not know until later is that 3 of the 4 references had financial gain if I joined 123college.com. They were recruiting me to go into their insurance hierarchy for commission overrides. The fourth reference is in a remote mountain town in CA and he has several jobs to supplement his income.
3. I was promised seminars in front of the top schools in my area within 30 days of signing the contract.
4. I joined at the worst time as fafsa forms are processed on 01/01 of each year. You dont want to sign in the first quarter of the New Year if you are depending on a quick ROI.
5. As a result, Associates at 123college said that no calls were made to any of the schools in January as there would be NO TIME until February or March, due to the fafsa filing deadlines. Furthermore, I was told that no such promises listed above were made by the owner, who stopped taking my calls.
6. In February I had an attorney write a letter to 123college.com and cancelled credit card.
7. The owner asked that I sit down with him again. He apologized for promising me things that could not be done and he refused to refund my money.
8. He promised that 123college.com would not charge me any quarterly associate fees for 2012.
9. But All the top schools in my area declined. So I followed up to see if the calls were actually made. A few schools stated they had bad experiences with this organization.
10. The schools I was given in March and April were low income and the timing of the direct mail was not right.(August through December are best). I lost several thousand in marketing costs.
11. So I decided I would work the program myself and get my own schools.
12. The first report I did for a family was so poorly completed, 123college offered the client a freebie because he was so upset.
13. 1 client asked for her money back and the owner told me that I would pay the $1295, even though I did not receive commission or payment. Still not sure why they demanded it.
14. 123college.com then warned me that they would put me into a collections agency, which the contract I signed agrees to. The Credit Card Company also agreed with them and stated that they had the right to all associate fees of $4800 for the year AND for the refund of payment to the client based on the contract I signed, even though my credit card was cancelled. But this would only happen if 123college.com pursued it.
15. I had an attorney letter stating that I would fight this the moment they put me into collections.
16. team members at 123college.com never addressed the verbal promises made by the owner and seemed like this was not the first time this had happened.
17. The hiring process seems to revolve around getting agents to sign up and then leave rather than trying to get agents to stay and build a career.
18. When I joined 123college.com, I made the mistake of telling the owner that I had 3 agents that worked with me and that I would be interested in having them work the 123college.com program for my given territory under me.
19. The owner asked to meet them in January and I obliged.
20. In April, the owner called my agents behind my back and offered them parts of my given territory (again my territory was not in writing.) for Appx $2000, not $5000.
21. All in all, the 123college.com concept is a great concept that does work given time. But for me, the company operated more like a used car dealership. That type of organization is not for me, but it might be for others.
22. If I had stuck it out and paid some expensive fees, the program would have worked because I was making it work.
23. I just could not take working with an organization like that any longer.
24. Hope this is of help!
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 01/02/2013 06:26 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/123collegecom/Deerfield-Beach-Florida-33442/123collegecom-Dont-sign-up-without-an-attorney-Deerfield-Beach-Florida-990248. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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