I took the "online" defensive driving class after receiving a ticket thinking it would be a convenient way to clear a speeding ticket. Was I ever wrong. I would not recommend this class or this school (The Online Traffic School, Inc.) to anyone.
1. The class is advertised as "online", however, once enrolled you soon find out that the exam portion of the class must be taken at an "onsite" testing location. Nowhere on the company site does it tell you this (until after you're enrolled). I consider this false advertising.
2. The class is advertised for $39.00 and you soon find out (only after you enroll) that the charge to your credit card is $59.99. I am still in the dark about the total cost and can find no explanation on the website for the extra $20.99 charged.
3. Once enrolled, you must fax a copy of your driver's license, ticket and signature (very confidential data). This company lost my paperwork and I had to resend a few days later. Not very comforting and completely incompetent on their part.
4. The company advertises that the course is available "24 by 7", however, I quickly discovered when I tried to take the class one Saturday, that no one could approve my credentials (driver's license) until Monday. Yes, they do have an operator available, but all she was able to tell me was that I had to wait until Monday to be approved. I consider this false advertising.
5. After finally being admitted to the program, several days later, I was told I must fork over another $110 for court fees. Nowhere on the company site are these fees explained (nor any detail about the actual cost of the court fees listed or broken out).
6. I was out of town when I was "trying" to take the class and attempted to communicate via email (which is one of the "advantages" touted on the website). Some of my questions were answered via email, others the company ignored. For example, when I asked for my password they would not respond and waited until I called them several hours later. Very frustrating. This is when they hit me with the $110 fee mentioned above. I'm still wondering why they couldn't return my email and tell me this?? Something like "Please call because we need you to pay your court fees". Why is that so hard? Really poor customer service and communication.
7. Once finally into the online portion of the class I noticed right away that there were very few review questions. The class is 14 chapters long and you are only reviewed every third chapter or so. So what you end up doing is reading a massive amount of information and you get very little feedback (and completely no feedback in the majority of chapters). I found this very worrisome. The total questions asked during the four hours of the class was approximately 12. Big help.
8. The website advertised that you could "review" the coursework after you completed the course as many times as needed (before taking the final exam). I tried to log in the day after I completed the course and the company had already revoked my userid and password. So, net result, I could not study for the final.
9. When I finished the class I had to choose an "onsite" testing location in my area. The website page was quick to point out that the testing locations were located in MAILBOXES ETC stores around the valley. Additionally, the MAILBOXES ETC logos were prominently displayed on the website and the certificate that I printed out. What I discovered (after driving around looking for the place) was that MAILBOXES ETC was bought out by The UPS Store. Also, the "address" on the building was "535" both on the building and curbside. The "address" I was looking for was "550" (the individual address for the shop) was not displayed anywhere (not on the door, not anywhere). Very poor.
10. Once I finally located the test site, the test "proctor" set me up at a PC and logged into the site. I was asked to enter my username and password and could not do so because it had already been revoked (see above).
11. At that point the proctor called the company to reset my password (which took another 15 minutes). She then provided me with a "new" password. Not what I consider confidental or secure (as advertised). At that point I was wondering why the company even bothered to give anyone a "secure" password.
12. There are two sections to complete the final; the first section is called the "Environmental" test and you are asked questions about the class that prove you read the material. The second half of the test is the actual "defensive driving" questions.
The biggest SHOCK came when I took the first half of the final ("Environmental" test). Some of the few tips the reading material did provide were hints about the "Environmental" section. The "tips" were highlighted in bright, bolded yellow and were comprised of both photos and goofy sayings. I found all quite easy to remember and studied them carefully each chapter.
When I actually took the "Enviromental" portion of the test what I found was that in addition to the "tips" I was also expected to know things like;
---What color was the font on the page?
---What was the background color used on the site?
---What did the links at the top of the page say (exact wording)?
---Was your name printed across the top of each page?
---Which company logo was posted on the pages (the company has two or three which are intermingled all over the site, your guess).
Well, honestly, these are not items I paid ANY attention to when I was taking the online portion of the class. Plus, nowhere in the reading material were there any "hints" warning me that I should be aware of these things. What a shock when I found them on the test (and so many of them).
I felt the questions were complete "trick" questions and knew right away I would have a hard time answering them correctly (as they were just a "guess" at that point). Sure enough, I get a message back right away telling me I had FAILED the environmental portion of the test and could not proceed and that I should now contact the court to find out what to do next.
What a complete SHOCK and scam.. I received 22 out of 25 correct and I was "Expelled" from the class before EVER answering ANY defensive driving questions.
I am also wondering how color blind people manage to answer these questions? To me they are not ADA compliant and completely unfair.
13. At that point I called the school and was told I was expelled. I was very upset so the supervisor got on the phone and would not listen to any of the questions I tried to ask. In fact, this was the poorest example of customer service I have EVER received in my life. This employee was actually "hollering" at me (over the top of my questions, while I was trying to speak). I hung up the phone in complete exasperation with NONE of my questions answered.
14. Now I am asking for a refund and was told the $59.99 for the class would not be reimbursed, however, the court fees would. I am watching my bank account and nothing has been reimbursed so I sent an email asking for my refund. Here is the reply I received.
"Since you were expelled from the program you are only being refunded the $65 Court Diversion Fee, which you will need to repay to the classroom course you attend. Your $20 State Fee and $45 State reporting fee will not be refunded, and it will still be submitted to the state. If you have any additional questions or concerns please give us a call at 888-731-9237."
Need to repay to the classroom? What the heck does that mean?
None of this adds up to the total $169.99 I paid (for class and court fees)?? And it also sounds like I will not get a dime back. I am fighting this battle now.
In exasperation, I went ahead and paid the traffic ticket. Because I am now late (after dinking around with this inept school for two weeks), I must also pay the court $50 more for LATE FEE.
Net total I am out is over $400 for a $175 speeding ticket.
15. Now (after every endured and no results), I revisited the company website and found this explanation of the grades needed to pass both sections of the final;
"Tests will be graded electronically. There are 2 portions to the final test. If you do not get 80% of the answers correct for the content portion on the final test, or do not achieve 80% or better on the environmental portion of the final test, you will not have any more opportunities to take the final test. Any student not achieving the passing score will be referred to a classroom program if time permits."
Like I said above, I scored 22 out of 25 and am wondering why I even failed??? That is a score of at least 85??
This was the most exasperating, incompetent, rook of a company I have ever been unfortunate enough to deal with. I am now recommending to everyone I know, do not ever, under any circumstance ATTEMPT taking a class with The Online Traffic School, Inc.