• Report: #197928

Complaint Review: Questia Media

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  • Submitted: Sat, June 24, 2006
  • Updated: Sat, January 22, 2011

  • Reported By:Knoxville Tennessee
Questia Media
24 E Greenway Plaza, Ste. 450 Houston, Texas U.S.A.

Questia Media Predatory Business Practices and Nonrefundable Fees ripoff Houston Texas

*General Comment: Although legal, why not just refund the money?

*Consumer Comment: Simply Avoid Questia

*Consumer Comment: Bad bad questia

*Consumer Comment: Binding Contract?

*Consumer Comment: Held Hostage and Ripped Off by Questia and Discover Card

*Author of original report: Determined to Have the Last Word

*UPDATE Employee: Customer Complaint Response

*Author of original report: Questia's Unsatisfactory Rating with BBB

*UPDATE Employee: Customer Complaint Response

*Author of original report: Questia

*UPDATE Employee: Customer Complaint Response

*Author of original report: In Response to Questia's Rebuttal

*UPDATE Employee: Customer Complaint Response

*Author of original report: Response to Questia

*UPDATE Employee: Customer Complaint Response

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Questia Media is an online subscription service offering access to scholary journals and other periodicals for academic research. I signed up for the service and paid for a three- month subscription with the intention of canceling it when the three month period was over.

I was unable to cancel the subscription and the company automatically renewed it and charged my bank card, taking the money from my account without notifying me.

When I called the company to explain what happened and request a refund, they explained that they don't notify the customer when they renew the subscription and they don't have to. They also told me that they never issue refunds for anything and they told me that I agreed to all of this when I signed up.

I think all of this is unreasonable. It has only been a week since they renewed and it wouldn't hurt them to issue a refund right now. How is it legally possible for a company to have a "NO REFUNDS EVER" policy?

They should at least have a two-week grace period that applies to the renewal only. I can understand their need to protect against consumers who would try to abuse the policy and sign up and use the service and then try to get their money back, but that isn't what has happened in my case. I used the service for three months. I don't want it now, and I shouldn't be penalized for this small oversight.

When you return something to a store, you usually have a 30 day window in which to do so. Based on my encounters with their customer "service" department, it appears that Questia doesn't want to make any reasonable attempt to maintain good customer relations.

I am in the process of trying to resolve the issue with management. I have composed a written request and if I don't get my money back, my next step will be to warn as many people as I can about the service.

It seems that Questia's profit-making strategy hinges upon this renewal policy and procedure, which victimizes the very customers who have already signed up and paid for the service. I think this is deplorable. They're counting on us to not challenge their policies and to not complain. In fact, I couldn't find one Questia complaint on the Internet. If anyone else has had a similar experience with this company, please come forward and post your story!

Sara
Knoxville, Tennessee
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 06/24/2006 08:04 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Questia-Media/Houston-Texas-77046/Questia-Media-Predatory-Business-Practices-and-Nonrefundable-Fees-ripoff-Houston-Texas-197928. 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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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
0Author 15Consumer 0Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 General Comment

Although legal, why not just refund the money?

AUTHOR: BeeGood - ()

WHat seems odd about this discussion is the assurance with which Questia refuses to satisfy this customer.  I have forgotten such agreements before but have not run into such strong refusal to make an exception.  It seems so customer unfriendly that, for that reason, I would hesitate to buy this service.  The inflexibility of Questia in this case, in my view, is a large red flag.  Hopefully, by now (6 years later), Questia might have learned that customer trust and loyalty is better developed by following the model set by Amazon, ... giving up a little bit to gain a lot.  A business practice can be perfectly legal while also not being all that smart.  Their attitude is very off-putting.  No thanks!

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#2 Consumer Comment

Simply Avoid Questia

AUTHOR: hirayamaj - ()

 After reading the comments of both parties, I have come to conclusion, that the rebuttal of Questia was lame and their
defence invalid. Lesson learned avoid subscription from Questia and instead go to your local library for free services to
articles.

Thank you very much Sara for exposing the policies of this company. This must be exposed to other people.

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#3 Consumer Comment

Bad bad questia

AUTHOR: larryben - (United States of America)

We also have had a horrible experience with questia. Their business model includes charging our debit card without our permission. Refusal to accomodate our complaint was firm and unyielding. I believe others have this happen also...it is a lot of work to have to try to straighten out these thieves.

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#4 Consumer Comment

Binding Contract?

AUTHOR: Tim - (U.S.A.)

My wife pays the bills, and I noticed a monthly charge from Questia. I found out from American Express that Questia charged me a monthly fee for the last 20 months. I know, we should have caught it sooner, but my wife who pays the bills thought it was some monthly charge of mine.

Turns out our son used the website 4 times to his memory (Questia claims they do not log uses to verify), but that my son agreed to the 12-page on-line contract. Questia told me that anyone 13 years of age or older can bind their parents to the contract. I will be checking the law on that one, but plan of fighting them, including taking them to Small Claims Court if I have to.
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#5 Consumer Comment

Held Hostage and Ripped Off by Questia and Discover Card

AUTHOR: Marilyn - (U.S.A.)

Questia has a sneaky way of luring customers to think they are getting a one year subscription but they do a bait and switch and charges your card year after year and refuse to cancel in a timely manner. I have contacted the Attorney General of the United States about this matter. I also plan to contact the Federal Trade Commission. I believe many people are being charged and don't even know it.
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#6 Author of original report

Determined to Have the Last Word

AUTHOR: Sara - (U.S.A.)

Questia never gave my money back or admitted any wrong-doing.

My original complaint stands: this is a bad company and the subscription fee is not worth the service they provide.
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#7 UPDATE Employee

Customer Complaint Response

AUTHOR: Questia - (U.S.A.)

The reporting pratices of the BBB are in no way a refelctions of Questia's status as a company. It is the responsibility and policies of the BBB not Questia how and what they report about companies.

If you have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1.888.950.2580 ext.2600 (customers outside the U.S. can call us at 713.358.2600) or you can chat with us online at questia.com/aboutQuestia/Contact.jsp. An operator will be available during normal business hours Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fridays 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., and Sundays 3 p.m. - 9 p.m. central standard time.
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#8 Author of original report

Questia's Unsatisfactory Rating with BBB

AUTHOR: Sara - (U.S.A.)

Unlike the Better Business Bureau, badbusinessbureau.com / Rip-off Report does not hide reports of "satisfied" complaints. ALL complaints remain public in order to create a working history on the company or individual in question; unedited.
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#9 UPDATE Employee

Customer Complaint Response

AUTHOR: Questia - (U.S.A.)

As stated on the BBB site and stated with BBB themselves, Questia has NEVER had an unsatisfactory status with the BBB. The report was updated on the 27th of June for new information regarding our Management and phone numbers nothing else. There were no open cases this year open with BBB.

There have been no cases for our company open with the BBB in over a year as stated on the BBB website. ("The Bureau processed a total of 2 complaints about this company in the last 36 months, our standard reporting period. Both of those were closed more than 12 months ago") See for yourself.

(Link to our report on BBB)http://search.bbb.org/viewreport.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.data.bbb.org%2Fhouston.asp%3Fyid%3D35001248&recordid=35001248.0915&type=name

If you have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1.888.950.2580 ext.2600 (customers outside the U.S. can call us at 713.358.2600) or you can chat with us online at questia.com/aboutQuestia/Contact.jsp. An operator will be available Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. - 11 p.m., Fridays from 8 a.m.- 7 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. ? 5 p.m., and Sundays from 3 p.m. - 9 p.m. central standard time.
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#10 Author of original report

Questia

AUTHOR: Sara - (U.S.A.)

The Better Business Bureau does update their reports that they have on file. You can plainly see that Questia's report was updated June 27th, which is 4 days after I made this complaint here. The Better Business Bureau does modify their reports, and Questia is either flat-out lying about their unsatisfactory report, or they were simply unaware of what was in their report. For them to say that they have never had an unsatisfactory report is simply not true.
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#11 UPDATE Employee

Customer Complaint Response

AUTHOR: Questia - (U.S.A.)

Again Questia did everything possible to let Sara know of our billing practices and her options. As stated before we are sorry she feels robbed but we held up our end of the bargain and have done nothing wrong. Also again Questia had NEVER had an unsatisfactory report with the BBB. Per the link on the previous rebuttal it specifically states "The Bureau processed a total of 2 complaints about this company in the last 36 months, our standard reporting period. Both of those were closed more than 12 months ago". If all complaints were closed over a year ago, there is no way could Sara have seen a complaint on the site this year.

Secondly, it is unfortunate that Sara wants to make us out to be a bad company for our billing practices she agreed to. As for the other consumer she references we have not been able to find the complaint she refers to. Yet again, it is weird that when Sara started the complaint she says she was unable to find anything bad about Questia.

Lastly many people do find Questia useful for many reasons. Some are working students who can't get to the library on their campus in time before it closes. Others are foreign students studying in their native country but needing American books the do not have access to. The list goes on and on. Again it is very convenient for Sara to bash our company when the situation has not gone her way. We gave ample time and notice of our billing practices. Had Sara cancelled account in time we would probably have a glowing report from her as well.

If you have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1.888.950.2580 ext.2600 (customers outside the U.S. can call us at 713.358.2600) or you can chat with us online at questia.com/aboutQuestia/Contact.jsp. An operator will be available Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. - 11 p.m., Fridays from 8 a.m.- 7 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. ? 5 p.m., and Sundays from 3 p.m. - 9 p.m. central standard time.
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#12 Author of original report

In Response to Questia's Rebuttal

AUTHOR: Sara - (U.S.A.)

1) The Better Business Bureau report on Questia was updated on June 27th. When I accessed the Better Business Bureau site on June 23rd , there were three complaint listings, one of which had a "no response" notation beside it and because of that, the word "unsatisfactory" was included in the report. The Better Business Bureau tells me that they are not able to access prior reports and all reports are "real-time."

This report that posts at the BBB now was updated on June 27th, prior to when I posted my complaints. The "no-response" complaint has since dropped off the report. The BBB tells me that after 3 years, complaint listings are removed. For Questia to say that they have always had a satisfactory rating is not entirely accurate.

2) I did find another unhappy consumer who bothered to write about their experience with Questia on the Internet. I came across this yesterday as a matter of fact, and it confirms that I am not the only one who feels robbed by Questia. This person put their complaint out on the Internet on April 6, 2006. It seems that he/she tried to sign up for a trial version and was charged for the service immediately.

Since we know Questia does not offer refunds, you can imagine how upset this person must have been. You can read about that at Amazon.com. Someone else reviewed Questia there as well and gave them a glowing report, but based on my experience with the service (excluding my issues with their billing policy), I just don't see how anyone could get THAT excited about an online library. The service is adequate, not amazing.

3) Questia says in their prior rebuttal: "...it is unnecessary to be angry with us for a service and billing practice you agreed and was made very clear to you when signing up for the service." Anytime a lousy company like this one takes my money (it takes me a long time to net $44.95) I can get angry. Questia has this terrible policy and they should expect that people aren't going to like it, despite their "effort" to communicate the policy beforehand. It is a lousy, underhanded way to get repeat business. Don't sign up for Questia!
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#13 UPDATE Employee

Customer Complaint Response

AUTHOR: Questia - (U.S.A.)

Sara had to agree to our policy and terms of agreement before she ever used the site. We warn our customers several times, BEFORE subscription of the service, about our billing practices. It stated several times on the site and sent out in an email for the subscriber's records. It is unfortunate that Sara is now in disagreement with the very policy she AGREED to abide by when she subscribed to the service.

We understand that Sara was unable to cancel the service before it was renewed automatically. Sara had the opportunity to cancel the service the same day she signed up for it and have complete access until the end of the quarter. Sara also could have cancelled anytime before the Quarter was up and have the same access. It is not our duty to take upon the responsibilities of the customer when we are holding up our end of the deal and the customer decides they do not want to.

In Sara's initial complaint she states that she was unable to find anything bad about Questia on the Internet. Now Sara says that the BBB (Better Business Bureau) said we had an unsatisfactory status when she signed up. Which is it? Our status with the BBB has always been satisfactory. Also the BBB report of our company specifically states ?This company has a very specific billing policy. It is important for consumers to read through the policy and fully understand that the membership will automatically renew and all fees and dues are non-refundable.?

(Link to our BBB report) http://search.bbb.org/viewreport.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.data.bbb.org%2Fhouston.asp%3Fyid%3D35001248&recordid=35001248.0915&type=name

We have many customers who love the service and all that entails. We also make sure when we are contacted in any way that the person knows of the billing system and give them options on what they want to do with their account. Also, we did not advertise our business in our rebuttal. It was merely a statement to the fact of what our service is as and all that it involves. We are very sorry you disagree with our policy but it is unnecessary to be angry with us for a service and billing practice you agreed and was made very clear to you when signing up for the service.

If you have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1.888.950.2580 ext.2600 (customers outside the U.S. can call us at 713.358.2600) or you can chat with us online at

questia.com/aboutQuestia/Contact.jsp. An operator will be available Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. - 11 p.m., Fridays from 8 a.m.- 7 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. ? 5 p.m., and Sundays from 3 p.m. - 9 p.m. central standard time.
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#14 Author of original report

Response to Questia

AUTHOR: Sara - (U.S.A.)

In response to Questia's rebuttal, I would just like to add that I understand their policy and I understand that they clearly stated that the subscription auto-renewed.

Their rebuttal is just another example of how badly they treat their PAYING subscribers. I don't need the policy repeated to me as though I don't understand it. I am stating that I do not AGREE with it. I was UNABLE to cancel the subscription.

My complaint is valid and I fully understand that I won't be getting my money back, but that isn't the purpose of my complaint. My objective is to warn other students. They need to be aware of this company and the way they operate before they give Questia access to their credit cards. My advice to any student is to stay FAR FAR away! I am sorry I ever clicked on the Questia link!

When I first made this complaint, I looked for Questia at the Better Business Bureau. At the time, they had an unsatisfactory rating. Since then that report has been modified, but the BBB does report that a good number of inquiries have been made about Questia, and generally people don't go making inquiries at the BBB about a business unless that business has provided unsatisfactory service, or ripped them off in some way.

Questia's customer service department was completely unresponsive to my initial request, citing the company policy which victimizes their customers by making the assumption that Questia has the right to renew subscriptions and debit customer bank accounts without first checking with the customer to ensure that the CUSTOMER desires continuation of the service.

This amounts to stealing and they've whitewashed it with a company policy that authorizes this practice. Any reputable business would make an inquiry first, even if they do state that their practice is similar to that of other online businesses.

In their rebuttal to my initial complaint, they take the opportunity to highlight the benefits of their service. From my perspective, the service they offer is okay, but it irritates me that they would use this as an opportunity to advertise. I have access to other online materials and I will use those rather than paying for access to theirs. There is nothing about Questia that distinguishes it and makes it stand out.

I hope other students will seek access to other online research resources, especially since Questia places little value on the people they're supposedly serving.
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#15 UPDATE Employee

Customer Complaint Response

AUTHOR: Questia - (U.S.A.)

Sara signed up for a Quarterly recurring account on March 17, 2006. Our website clearly states that the account is an automatically recurring charge until the time of cancellation. In addition to that notification, Sara was sent a Welcome email after registration, which indicated the account would renew Quarterly each period until the time of cancellation and that the account could be cancelled at any time to prevent the recurring charge. The welcome email specifically states: You have given us authority to charge your account every time your subscription renews or until you cancel.

Sara contacted Questia Customer Support on June 23, 2006 and requested the cancellation of the account. The account was promptly closed, at which point Sara requested a refund for the charge she had received on June 17, 2006.

Since Sara's signup date, we have provided 24hr a day access to over 1 million scholarly books, magazines, newspapers, and journal articles. Each article and book is copyrighted, which requires us to charge a subscription fee for access. In addition, we maintain subscribers book lists, notes, cites, highlights, and bibliographies on our servers.

Questia's billing model is similar to an Internet service provider or cable company. If a subscriber accesses the library one time or one thousand times, the subscription fee does not change. The subscriber is responsible for canceling his/her account.

Our current refund policy does state that no refunds are given under any circumstances. We advised the customer of this and that is why we provide 24hr a day access to cancel the account. You can cancel your subscription at any time by sending an email, calling our toll free number, using our live chat feature, or customers can cancel the service online utilizing the MY ACCOUNT section of their workspace.

When cancelled your account will be active until the end of your paid period then it will convert to a standard free preview account and any items in your will be saved.

If you have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1.888.950.2580 ext.2600 (customers outside the U.S. can call us at 713.358.2600) or you can chat with us online at

questia.com/aboutQuestia/Contact.jsp. An operator will be available Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. - 11 p.m., Fridays from 8 a.m.- 7 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. 5 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m.. - 9 p.m. central standard time.
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