• Report: #836969
Complaint Review:


  • Submitted: Fri, February 10, 2012
  • Updated: Tue, April 03, 2012

  • Reported By: Linn — Charlotte North Carolina United States of America
10025 Mesa Rim Road San Diego, California United States of America

WordSmart Deceptive Trade Practices San Diego, California

*UPDATE Employee: WordSmart policies and guarantee rebuttal

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After receiving several phone calls from Brian at WordSmart, I took the time to listen to his pitch for the SAT preparation product.  He called while our child was at school and while I was working, and I specifically informed him of this upfront.  He refused to give up on calling.  He said our child had requested the WordSmart SAT prep program by completing something at school - that was a lie. Then, Brian said our child's school had sent our child's personal information (name, address, phone number) to WordSmart - that was a lie.  Our child didn't complete anything for SAT prep.

After being told that the ONLY charge (to my credit card) would be a 1-time charge of $169.80 with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, I agreed.  I repeatedly asked if that was the only charge and Brian assured me that was all he needed.  (That is also clearly stated on the recorded telephone conversation, but WordSmart refuses to acknowledge that.)

Brian was fully aware that our child was registered to take the SAT test in less than a month from the date of his call.  The software was received less than 2 weeks before test day.  Brian assured me that that was sufficient time to use the program and achieve at least a 200-point increase in SAT score.  That is also clearly stated on the recorded telephone conversation, but WordSmart refuses to acknowledge that.  And if our child's score did not increase by 200 points, there was a 100% money back guarantee.

Our child's score did not increase 200 points; it didn't increase 100 points; it didn't increase 50 points.  It increased 20 points, no thanks to this ripoff program.  Our child did not have 20 hrs per week to spend on the computer practicing the SAT test.  I had also explained that to Brian, but he said because our child's score was already very good, our child would not have to spend that much time on the product.  He didn't explain that in order for 100% money back guarantee, the student MUST spend the 20 hrs. because WordSmart WILL check the CD-rom for hours used.

WordSmart charged my credit card for 3 additional payments of $57.90 each.  Brian had mentioned that IF I wanted additional software, to just let them know and they would send it.  He had also mentioned that WordSmart does some updating and that that was included.  More lies.

Brian gave me his phone number and hours and indicated that I should contact him with any questions or problems.  Of course, he was never available and, according to Faith, is in a different department now.  How convenient.

WordSmart refuses  to refund the three charges to my credit card.  Faith "offered" to exchange it for "other WordSmart products" but that would no doubt reinstate their continued access to charging my account.

Don't waste your time filing a complaint with the California BBB because WordSmart continuously lies to them even after forwarding documentation.  They misstate their policies and practices to the BBB and the BBB is, after all, for the company and not the consumer.  That is also how WordSmart continues a rather high BBB rating and the complaints are considered as "resolved" when they are not.

I recommend that parents contact their local school administrators to alert them that WordSmart is missusing their names and that WordSmart is accessing their students' private information.  Contact the State Department of Education.  WordSmart is no doubt getting its information from SAT, ACT, PSAT and other testing programs, also a breach of the student's private information.

Do NOT - I repeat - do NOT order this program.  You will regret it.  If your child needs extra help preparing for the SAT or ACT test, enroll them in the local school's bootcamp before the testing date or get the extra help from a teacher or a tutor.  You can also purchase SAT prep programs from bookstores that are valid, one-time purchases and are more user-friendly and require less time than this WordSmart program.  (Our old children used SAT prep programs purchased through the local bookstore and each saw more than a 200-point increase in their scores with a lot less time, effort, and expense.  Unfortunately, the bookstore closed and there is no bookstore near us.) 

The only increase from your purchase of WordSmart will be in the profits of the company.  WordSmart is the "big dog" and they will continue to take advantage of the consumer until they are stopped by the courts or AGs, but until then, they will continue their deceptive trade practices, fraudulent guarantees, illegal access to students' private information, unauthorized charges to accounts, and overall preying upon the consumer.  It would be a blessing if a diligent attorney would take on this company in a class action.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 02/10/2012 06:51 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/wordsmart/san-diego-california-92121/wordsmart-deceptive-trade-practices-san-diego-california-836969. 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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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 UPDATE Employee

WordSmart policies and guarantee rebuttal

AUTHOR: Faith - (United States of America)

We are sorry to hear that the Linn family was unhappy with their WordSmart order. Since I do not have the specific account information I would like to respond in general to the issues mentioned.

            First of all, regarding why we initially called the Linn family We have general information that students are going to be taking the SAT or ACT and that the student wants help increasing their score on these tests. We follow up with parents and give them the opportunity to evaluate our program for a 30 day trial since our product is guaranteed to help with these tests. We never tell parents that their student ordered our specific program, only that their student expressed interest in getting help on the SAT or ACT and that we have a product which can provide this help.

            In regards to Linns complaint that they were sent other products after their trial when they were told nothing else would be billed, I would encourage Linn to contact our customer service department at 1-800-641-9673 to have their sales call reviewed. We record our sales calls to make sure our sales people are explaining the WordSmart program correctly to our customers. This is done for the companys protection and for our customers protection as well. If our sales people do not explain the future billings we want to know about it so we can correct the problem. Likewise if we research the sales call and confirm our customer was informed that they would be sent other products after their trial we want to be able to assure our customers that everything was explained in the sales call. I am confident that Linn was told that other products would be sent after their trial expired and welcome the opportunity to review their account. If Linn was not informed of the future billings in that recorded call we would happily refund them.

            We understand that our customers are very busy so in addition to informing them verbally in the sales call that the next WordSmart product will be sent after the 30 day trial, we inform them repeatedly in writing in their first shipment. We even put a sticker on the outside of the Priority mail box which states another product will be sent after their trial so if they dont have the time to open the box right away they will still get a reminder of the future products scheduled to ship. We include our toll free 800# on this sticker so our customers can contact us immediately if they have any questions or want to make any changes to their account.

            In regards to Linns account, if they received three additional charges of $57.90 this means they did not cancel their WordSmart service until over four months had passed since the receipt of their initial order. Each time we billed their credit card, from the order date on, we put our name and phone number on their credit card statement. Of course we also delivered products to their home each time we billed their card. If they had any questions or concerns we were available every business day. We also consider a return a cancellation request which means the Linn family kept those shipments every month. Just like any business we have a return policy and this policy does not encompass 120 days of account activity.

            Im not sure what Linn is referring to regarding WordSmart doing updates which was found later to not be true. We do updates on our products periodically and our customers are qualified for two free disks to be sent within two years of their order date. If Linn needs an updated product I encourage her to contact us at 1-800-641-9673.

            In regards to our offer of exchanging other WordSmart products for Linns current products at no charge, of course that would not reinstate the monthly billings. If she would like an email confirmation that there will be no additional billings accompanying her product replacement we would be happy to do this for her.

            Overall in regards to the continuity shipments, Linn was informed verbally and in writing these products would be sent. All of our customers are informed verbally and in writing that WordSmart is a continuity program. No customer is required to receive products monthly. All customers can cancel their future billings at any time. Our customer service department is available every business day until 5 PM PST at 1-800-641-9673 and should anyone ever have any questions about their account or want to make any changes we are happy to assist them.

            In regards to Linns complaint that our guarantee required 20 hours of product usage, she is absolutely correct. Of course, as with any company who has a guarantee, we have to have parameters as to what qualifies a customer to take advantage of our guarantee. It would not make sense to have no parameters to our guarantee. Our company statement is that using our product will increase the SAT or ACT score. If the program is not used then obviously we cant guarantee the increase. The parameters of the guarantee are given in writing in all first shipments and can be found at any time at www.wordsmart.com. The SAT and ACT guarantee lasts up to two years after purchase date which gives our customers plenty of time to use the products for the minimum time period required. If Linn purchased the product within the last two years she is still within the time period to take advantage of this guarantee and we encourage her to take advantage of our offer. Most students take the SAT or ACT multiple times so even if the student recently took a test there will be several other opportunities for the student to test again this year alone.

            As weve stated before, we are sorry that Linn is unhappy. Of course we do not want unhappy customers but we believe we have the right to a return policy like any other company. For Linn to agree to a 30 day trial and be told if she did not cancel other products would be sent, then to call 120 days and four shipments later and expect a refund is just not reasonable. As she mentions in her complaint we were and are happy to work with her in regards to product exchanges but per her original recorded agreement she was well past the time period to get any refunds.

WordSmart Customer Service 


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