I went to a free Dot-Com Solutions internet seminar which had been advertised in the newspaper. The presentation was very slick. There I signed up for an "Internet Marketing Seminar" -- which is supposedly normally $995 but they were giving away 14 scholarships which lowered the price to only $45 and I got one. (Everyone gets one it seems, even if you call the day before).
I knew this was a marketing ploy, but I signed up because we were told that the information provided at the seminar was designed for people who were interested in building their own website and provided general information relevant to building a web business regardless of whether or not someone was interested in using their products.
The scholarship agreement which I read and signed said "At the Training Workshop you will receive: a full day of comprehensive, in-depth training on how to make money on the internet. Your trainers are nationally recognized experts who will use proven teaching techniques that make learning simple. When you complete this all-day training event, you will be prepared to start making money." Their marketing materials also said we would receive: "Specific Step-by-Step Training, Business Planning and Development, Proven Marketing Strategies" among other things.
I paid $45 to sit thru a 4 hour and 15 minute (including breaks) sales pitch for their product. No business planning and development, no "all-day training event", and if the trainers are "nationally recognized experts" they forgot to tell us according to whom.
ATTEMPTS AT JUSTICE:
After the seminar, I expressed my displeasure at their misrepresentating the "internet marketing seminar" as something more than a sales pitch and requested a refund. I was subjected to insults and was told that only 4 or 5 people a year were dissatisfied (since 2 of the 10 or so of us at that seminar expressed that they were unhappy, it's hard for me to believe these low numbers -- but if it's true it seems to me they would be more than happy to refund us our money).
I asked for the President's name (they said Jeff Shumley) and for his address and wrote him requesting a refund. He had his "Quality Assurance Department" write me back, saying "Our scholarship agreement that you signed clearly states that the charge is a NON REFUNDABLE processing fee". (I studied the agreement and it does say this but it's carefully placed to the side in a way as not to call attention to itself.) His letter also indicated that I could go to an upcoming seminar if I'd like.
No thank you. I've already wasted one afternoon. They did not fulfill their end of the scholarship contract and unless they are prepared to offer a generalized course as promised, I want my money back.
Meanwhile, one of their follow-up sales men called me. I explained I was dissatisfied with their company's marketing practices and had written the President. I asked him if anyone had ever gotten their money back. He said, "Of course." Frankly, I highly doubt it, but if anyone out there has, please let me know.
I have now left a message on Mr. Shumley's voice mail.
ONE MORE THING
They carefully price their scholarship at $45 so as to avoid being liable under the "Special Rule for Credit Card Purchases" which states: "If you have a problem with the quality of goods or services that you purchased with a credit card, and you have tried in good faith to correct the problem with the merchant, you may not have to pay the remaining amount due on the goods and services. You have this protection only when the purchase price was more than $50 ..."