First I am NOT a professional poet, far from it, and I know it, so I had no delusions when I got notice that a poem I had submitted was a "possible" winner. I had written about 5 or 6 good poems over 30 years due to circumstances in my life at the time, but can not create a poem as a matter of routine. I had also sent in a poem a year before and got no response, so when they responded to my second submission, which was a better poem, I decided to get a few books printed.
I had no delusions that I was simply paying for the "Vanity" of being able to show people a poem in a book with my name on it, and wrote them saying so. I have even spoken to a representative on the phone twice. My main problem is that their bookkeeping has a LOT to be desired. I have ordered several things,again knowng I could go to my nearby trophy shop and have a trophy made with my name on it and show it to people, but to date have received only 1 thing and no confirmation of the other thngs I ordered, but keep getting letters asking me to join, which I had already done. I simply wanted a copy of a book with my poem in it to give a copy to the person who inspired the poem in the first place.
If you go into this knowing you are paying for vanity, then you are not getting ripped off, you're paying for the priviledge of seeing your work, good or otherwise, in print. I'm just waiting to see if I get the books I ordered, due to print in Sept. Also, I will be monitoriing my credit card to see if I am being charged for things ordered but never received.
The one hopeful thing that makes me hold final judgement is that I did receive my deposit check back when I ordered the books with a profile, but did not pay for the profile upfront (which was not stated needed to be done) and resubmitted online and paid by credit card. I did get my first deposit back. They provide a "vanity" service, for those of us who are not prolific enough a writer to publish our own entire book, but on rare occasions, do come up with a brilliant thought, to be combined with others to create a book. I hold final judgement for now. You are paying for someone to read the poems, the materials, the people who have to run the presses and type in the poems etc.