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A BBB Accredited Business since
BBB has determined that PPI meets BBB accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. BBB Accredited Businesses pay a fee for accreditation review/monitoring and for support of BBB services to the public.
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Reason for Rating
BBB rating is based on 13 factors. Get the details about the factors considered.
Factors that raised the rating for PPI include:
- Length of time business has been operating
- Complaint volume filed with BBB for business of this size
- Response to 6 complaint(s) filed against business
- Resolution of complaint(s) filed against business
Customer Complaints Summary Read complaint details
|Complaint Type||Total Closed Complaints|
|Problems with Product/Service||4|
|Total Closed Complaints||6|
Customer Reviews Summary Read customer reviews
|Customer Experience||Total Customer Reviews|
|Total Customer Reviews||0|
Type of Entity
Business ManagementMs. Patty Steinhardt, Chief Operating Officer
Number of Employees
Publishers - Book
Alternate Business NamesProfessional Publications, Inc.
1250 Fifth Ave
Belmont, CA 94002 (650) 593-9119 Directions
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Complaint Trends - Last 3 Years
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BBB Customer Review Rating plus BBB Rating Overview
BBB Customer Reviews Rating represents the customers opinions of the business. The Customer Review Rating is based on the number of positive, neutral and negative customer reviews posted that are calculated to produce a score.
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Read Complaint Details
Complaint: The company is selling a review book to gain licensure. Information contained in the book is outdated and could cause someone to fail the exam. I recently purchased a study workbook from PPI, through the Amazon.com. It cost me $45.92 because I applied points I have saved. The work book, LARE Review Mastering Section C (2006, makes numerous references to a LARE Reference Manual which is supposed to contain setback dimensions from property lines, streams, wetlands, the corners of intersections for site triangles, buffer zones etc. The current LARE guide contain no such information. I have written to the publisher and their response was the material corresponds to Section 3, Mr. ******* *** ignored my question as to whether this information they are selling is appropriate and/or relevant for today's testing of Section 3. I have also sent a email to the Council of Landscape Architects Registration Board (CLARB). The response was: "You no longer need the reference manual for section 3. Any background information that you need to answer a question on the exam will be within the question on the computer. As I am unable to attest to their practice material, I am not sure of the value of the material provided. All I can tell you is that CLARB does not work with PPI in preparing material for preparation."
Desired Settlement: I want PPI to either update this workbook or advertise it with a disclaimer stating the LARE Manual references in the book are no longer valid.
Business Response: Initial Business Response /* (1000, 5, 2015/08/26) */ 8/12/15 Customer sent the following email to ****@********.com Dear Ma'am/Sir, I recently purchased this publication through Amazon.com. The review book makes numerous references about information that is in the LARE Reference Manual that is not. The current LARE Reference Manual does not list buffer or setback requirements P 17, there are no specific requirements given P. 37, P.39. On page 53 it summarizes information from the LARE Reference Manual from 2006. It is now 2015 is this information still valid? 8/13/15 PPI Sales Support responded with Hello ******, LACR was published several years ago, and it is even acknowledged on the product page for the book (http://********.com/*****************************************************) that Section C of the LARE had transitioned to Section 3 in December 2012. A cross-reference chart comparing the old sections (A-E) to the new sections (1-4) can be viewed @ http://********.com/*************************************************. It's very possible that the LARE Reference Manual (not published/distributed by PPI) has been updated since, but LACR and its information can still be considered a valuable resource. PPI website currently describes the book as follows: LARE Review, Mastering Section C: Site Design (LACR) Section 3 of the LARE assesses your skills in evaluating and designing graphical site solutions. LARE Review, Mastering Section C: Site Design shows you how to approach site planning and design through three basic tasks: analyzing the site and requirements; understanding the relationships between the land and the land's uses; and creating optimal plans and design solutions. Comprehensive Review for the LARE Section 3 19 vignette practice problems with detailed solutions A thorough review of important vehicular, pedestrian, and parking circulation topics An easy-to-use appendix of LARE specifications LARE Transition Information Section C of the LARE transitioned to Section 3 in December 2012. The problems in this book correspond to Section 3 topics. Click here for an old exam section (A-E) to new exam section (1-4) cross-reference chart ****** purchased her material on Amazon.com. Based on our research we discovered that Amazon product copy was not updated when the test changed. We have now provided the trade industry with updated product copy that matches the information we provide on our website. PPI material is authored and edited to help students prepare for the exam. Our review manuals, practice problems, and sample exams are all based on the exam specifications and do not include any actual exam questions. We do not solicit exam details from candidates and we do not make claims of an association or endorsement by CLARB. PPI works hard to stay current with exams, but we are not always able to publish new editions when exams or other supporting material change. Exam candidates should always educate themselves on exam specification and put together their study plan accordingly. Our landscape architecture books may no longer be comprehensive in their coverage, but that does not reduce their value as a study resource. Initial Consumer Rebuttal /* (3000, 7, 2015/08/28) */ (The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.) Before purchasing the book on Amazon I verified that the ISBN numbers were the same as the book advertised on PPI's website; and they matched exactly. Amazon even advertised it as the new edition. The fact still remains the references made to the 2006 LARE reference are invalid and will only confuse individuals using this information when doing other practice vignettes. I know because it happened to me when I did the new vignette from the ASLA web site. Practice vignettes with correct and up-to-date information are helpful, but the information they are selling is not up-to-date.
Problems with Product/Service
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Complaint: PPI refusing to offer a shipping label for returning a set of books that I did not order. The website has an error and the incorrect books were sent. I order a set of books (FSP8), however when adding that package to the shopping cart on their website, a different package (PSP8) gets added in error. I was unaware of this error until I received the books and now PPI is refusing to offer a return shipping label, forcing me to pay for the return of the incorrectly shipped books even though the error is on their part. I have contacted PPI several times and now they are ignoring my emails and phone calls. I need this resolved quickly so I can receive the correct books in exchange.
Desired Settlement: I am seeking a full refund for the books that were incorrectly shipped and a fully paid shipping label to return the incorrect books. I need to exchange the incorrect books for the correct books.
Business Response: Initial Business Response /* (1000, 5, 2015/03/13) */ Customer placed order on 2/2 using PPI ecommerce store. He contacted PPI via email on 2/24 saying there had been an error during checkout and his confirmation showed the wrong products. The Customer's order was already packed and on-route by the time he emailed on 2/24. PPI replied to Customers email on 2/26 confirming what he ordered and recommending he initiate a Return Authorization Request to return the item he ordered but did not want. On 2/26 PPI sent a Return Authorization to the Customer. The Customer insisted that PPI pay for the return shipping cost stating there had been a product page error. PPI could not confirm there had been any error and per PPI's return policy, the Customer was emailed on 2/26 letting him know that he was responsible for return shipping cost. On 3/2 Customer sent another email saying he had received the original order and was still waiting for the PPI prepaid shipping label. The Customers special request was brought to Sales Support Manager's attention and a prepaid return label was approved. PPI emailed the prepaid shipping return label to customer on 3/2 at 4:28pm PT. As of 3/13/15 Customer has not used the prepaid label provided or returned the original order. Initial Consumer Rebuttal /* (3000, 7, 2015/03/17) */ (The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.) PPI has not accepted responsibility for their error and their website still produced the same error. I have contacted an attorney and was advised not to use the label provided and to maintain possession of the materials until a settlement can be reached with PPI.
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Complaint: Digital copies of books for people with disabilities. I purchased two books that were published by this manufacturer. I contacted them with proof of purchase and Doctor's assessment of my impairement as it pertains to reading printed material. I was hoping to hear back from them quickly so that they may provide digital copies of my books. I have yet to hear back from them. My purchases are as follows: XXX-XXXXXXXXXX XXX-XXXXXXXXXX Although I sent PPI my proof of purchase and my Doctor's assessment directly at: ****@ppi2pass.com , I am happy to provide the BBB with copies of the respective documents.
Desired Settlement: Please provide me with digital copies of my books as soon as possible
Business Response: Initial Business Response /* (1000, 5, 2015/02/05) */ Customer requested digital version of two books published by PPI that he purchased on Amazon.com. He communicated the need was due to a visual impairment. PPI communicated that our Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual for the PE Exam, is available to the public as an E-Book (ePub) on our e-commerce site, however the Practice Problems for the Mechanical Engineering PE Exam book is only available in a print format. Out of consideration, PPI provided customer with no-charge access to the (1) digital book and also provided 90-day access to another online product which includes Mechanical PE practice problems. Initial Consumer Rebuttal /* (3000, 7, 2015/02/06) */ (The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.) Good morning Sonja, I appreciate the efforts you have made in an effort to help me but these remain below my expectations. 1. The MERM chapters are somewhat adequate however the tables are illegible. Practically all the Support Material part is illegible; even on a 55" screen with Adobe Digital set on the ULTRA-LARGE font setting. 2. I tried the Exam Cafe and found it to be significantly substandard in relative difficulty compared to that of the Practice Problem book I purchased. My intention was to execute quantitative problems and this media fails to provide that. I understand that your company is concerned with Copyright infringement however it is clear that your firm possesses electronic versions of all your texts in one digital file format or another. Moving forward I will need copies of the two books I purchased in a format which can be converted to either a PDF file or a Kerzweil file. I regret that your firm's response has forced me to file a complaint with the BBB - I am hoping I will not have to formulate a complaint with the Federal Government's American Disabilities' Act (ADA) comitee. Please provide me with books in a media form I can use. Final Business Response /* (4000, 9, 2015/02/18) */ Dear ****, We provided the electronic book of the Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual to you and access to the online database for the Mechanical PE exam. Per the Editor in Chief and President of PPI, we are not authorized to provide you with an electronic version of any practice problem or practice exam books published by PPI. I might recommend that you contact the NCEES, the organization that administers the exam and ask for their support in your studies. Final Consumer Response /* (4200, 11, 2015/02/21) */ (The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.) There is 20% of electronic MERM book you provided which is illegible - fonts are diminutive even on the ULTRA-LARGE setting. Furthermore I cannot put this format in a disability software that reads to me. The exam-cafe contains problems which are overly easy-these have nothing to do with your book that I purchased to get a real preparation. NCEES has nothing to do with this problem. I spent nearly 400$ buying books you publish and the American Disability act of 1990 compels you to provide these exact books to me in a format which can be handled by special software that allows me to overcome my visual disability. I am truly disapointed that you would allow me to come short in my PE exam preparation given that your reason for existence is exclusively geared towards PE exam success. Everyone knows you possess the electronic files I need to succeed however you choose to protect your copyright at the expense of my success - in my opinion that is unethical. I am not going to fade away here.
Problems with Product/Service
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Complaint: The purchased service is not even close to what was described. It feels more like a trap and the company is charging huge admin fee for a refund. Same experience as another complaint. I spend $300 attend the PPI online study program, Passing Zone. On 3/1, I asked for refund before the service start (3/4), they told me cancel will charge me $200 as admin fee. I'm taking ARE Structure System exam. Since the book I'm using is published by PPI so I think their online study program, Passing Zone, might be helpful. The service is described as: The ARE Structural Systems Passing **** is a 4-week interactive, online study program that offers the knowledge and support of an experienced ARE advisor and a like-minded student community. It is an excellent resource for recent graduates or seasoned pros that need a quick refresher before the exam. Each week, you will be assigned chapters from the required texts, along with corresponding sample problems. Enroll in the Passing Zone and join the thousands of exam candidates who enhanced their exam review and passed their exam. Features Post questions any time. Receive personal expert responses. Read posts from other examinees, along with corresponding responses. Search a complete archive of past questions and answers. Follow a proven study schedule. I logged in and found there was nothing. the past archive contains no student's questions at all. You can easily tell there was almost no one bought the service. But the product advertised as there were thousands of students. The study community is actually a forum with almost no activity. There is no handout, no materials, nothing from any advisor. The so-called proven study schedule is actually reading their book chapter by chapter. So, in another words, they are selling an empty forum for $300. So I asked for canceling on 3/1. The service (publishing each week's book reading schedule) was scheduled to start on 3/4. So I was asking for full refund. And the response is that I have to pay $200 as their admin fee, which was not mentioned at all during purchasing. They provided a link to their terms. Without it, it's very difficult to find it. Obviously, it's a trap. The reason I'm asking for a full refund are: 1. I asked for refund before the service starts. 2. The service does not match what was advertised. not even close. 3. It's almost impossible to know about the refund penalty before making the purchase. It's almost impossible to find their hidden terms. 4. after other similar complaints on BBB, they did not make any changes to their practice. So they are intending to get customers' trapped. Order ********** (placed on February 26, 2014 5:39:00 PM PT)
Desired Settlement: I insist to ask for a full refund.
Business Response: Initial Business Response /* (1000, 5, 2014/03/26) */ 2/27/14 Customer placed original order for product. Prior to check out on ************ all customers must check a box indicating that they "agree to PPI's terms, conditions, and return policies" with links to the details of those policies. The customer selected that box and completed the transaction. 3/1/14 PPI received email from customer requesting a refund because they didn't like the course setup. PPI informed the customer of the cancellation fee per our terms and conditions which they had acknowledged. Customer became very upset. The issue was brought to PPI Customer Service Supervisor who approved a reduction in the cancellation fee from $200 to $ 150. 3/3/14 PPI informed customer of reduction in fee and requested that the customer confirm their acceptance of the reduce fee by 3/4/14 at noon for processing. 3/3/14 Customer responded that they did want to cancel but wanted a full refund. They said they didn't read ("didn't see") the terms and condition. 3/4/14 PPI Customer Service responded with a link to the terms and conditions and stated that unless they say they want to keep the PZ, we will proceed with the cancellation less the $150 fee. 3/12/14 No response from customer. PPI cancelled enrollment and issued a refund to customer in amount paid less the $150 cancellation fee. Credit Memo XXXXXX. Initial Consumer Rebuttal /* (3000, 7, 2014/03/27) */ (The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.) It looks like PPI missed some of my response. 3/3/14 I told them that I DO want to cancel and a full refund because their refund policy is ridiculous. the refund info is splitted in two places, Return Policy and terms-and-conditions. And this information is really hard to find. The website was designed to confuse people so they can't get warned before purchasing their product and service. After getting complained, they did not make any changes. As another customer said, PPI made this a trap on purpose. My original email is attached below. From: **** ** mailto:***********@*********** Sent: Monday, March 03, XXXX X:XX PM To: ****@************ Subject: Re: request cancel passing zone hi ****** Thanks for the response. I do want to cancel. And also I think a full refund is reasonable because the service has not started yet and this is a virtual merchandise, so you are not losing anything other than my reservation. I don't see anything regarding the $200 penalty during putting my order. As of now, I still can't find anything from your website. You didn't provide any obvious information before we made the final decision. So I don't think it's fair for me not to get a full refund. Especially this request is made before the service starts. I saw the complaint on BBB and hope we don't have to go that far. Looking forward to your response. Thanks. Regards **** 3/4/14 Right after I got response frm PPI, I responded that I insist a full refund. Since then, I didn't get any response from PPI until 3/6/14, a confirmation of $150 refund instead of the full amount $300. Since there is no reason to keep arguing with them, I filed complaint on 3/11/14. PPI has got complaints earlier for their service and product. But they did not make any changes and kept selling their PassingZone product with false advertisement statement and setting up ridiculous refund fee $200 of the original price $300. So, obviously, this business did not want to make money by selling great product but by trapping incautious customers. I still insist full refund and PPI should be warned and must make changes to their business practice.
Problems with Product/Service
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Complaint: PPI guarantee was not honored. On December 6, 2012, I signed up for the April 2013 PPI Mechanical PE review course (PE exam). I choose to use PPI because for their advertised guarantee and commitment to the students. The original purchase was for $1250 and two credit cards to pay the fee; $625 (Visa) and $625 (American Express). PPI provides a 100% guarantee that if you meet the course completion requirements you will pass your PE exam. If you don't pass, you can retake the course for free within one year of the date you purchased the original course. I successfully completed the April 2013 PPI course and was issued the PPI Course Completion Certificate. The following are the eligibility for the guarantee requires that students complete the following: PE Review Courses: Attend 80% of class topics and turn in 80% of class assignments, including a sample exam. Submit a copy of your actual exam result letter from the state board and a copy of your PPI Course Completion Certificate to us to ensure your seat in the next session. After not passing the April 2013 State Board Professional Engineering PE exam, I contacted PPI over the phone and worked with the customer service representatives (***** ******** ***** ******** and others over the phone) to re-enroll in the course. I was advised (***** **********) that I would have to pay an additional fee (50% of the original fee plus book fees a total amount of $937) to re-enroll. This 100% guarantee was not honored and I am taking the April 2014 Mechanical PE exam without any assistance from PPI. This is not acceptable and I would like a full refund, as PPI did not fulfill their guarantee to pass promise.
Desired Settlement: Full refund.
Business Response: Initial Business Response /* (1000, 5, 2013/12/27) */ BBB response regarding **** ***** 12/27/2013 On Dec. 6, 2012 **** ***** placed a phone order for PPI's PE Mechanical Review Package which includes enrollment in an Online Review Course on Tuesdays and Thursdays ************* He completed the course, but did not pass the April 2013 PE exam. He contacted PPI via email on Jun. 25, 2013 requesting a course guarantee and re-enrollment in the next Mechanical Engineering review course for the October 2013 exam. PPI honored the course guarantee and on Jun. 26th, enrolled Mr. ***** in the Mechanical PE Live Online Review Course starting 7/20/13 ************* He was sent confirmation of this enrollment on June 26th along with a link to the course schedule. On Aug 16th, after two sessions of the course had passed, Mr. ***** emailed PPI requesting enrollment in a Spring 2014 course rather than the one he was enrolled in. Per PPI Terms and Conditions, no cancellation or deferrals will be granted after the 2nd scheduled course date. PPI emailed Mr. ***** and informed him of this policy and told him he could qualify for a repeat customer 50% discount. Mr. ***** requested special consideration via phone and email and was granted a policy exception by PPI on Aug. 21st. PPI would allow him to defer the course with payment of the $150 deferral fee under the condition that the fee be paid by Sept. 30th. On Oct. 1st Mr. ***** requested via email that PPI grant an additional extension on the deferral payment until the end of October. PPI responded via email once again extending the payment due date to Oct. 8th. In the email sent to Mr. ***** on Oct. 3rd regarding the extension, PPI clearly stated that payment information must be received no later than 4:30pm PST on 10/8/13 and that PPI would not extend the deadline past Oct. 8th. On Oct. 25th, Mr. ***** phoned PPI requesting enrollment in the Spring 2014 course, paying only the deferral fee that had been offered by PPI previously. PPI responded via email that Mr. ***** was no longer qualified for the deferral, however he was eligible for the repeat customer 50% discount. Mr. ***** requested via email special consideration. PPI responded via email that PPI had made an exception to the policy and extended special payment timing in the past and that he would only be eligible for the repeat customer 50% discount if he wished to re-enroll. On Nov 1st, Mr. ***** pleaded for re-enrollment into the April 2014 course at the deferral rate of $150.00. On Fri, Nov 1, 2013 at 1:50 PM, ***** ********** <***********@ppi2pass.com> wrote: Dear Mr. *****: ***** forwarded me your email regarding the deferral of a January 2013 ME course (purchased in Dec of 2012) that was guaranteed to the July 2013 course. Sonja extended a deferral opportunity for this course to you for the January 2014 course twice beyond the deadline (Sept 30 and Oct 8th). Both of these dates were exceptions to the PPI policy. When reviewing your account, I see that you purchased the ME course package which has since been updated. In order to succeed in April 2014 you will need to purchase the new editions of the ME reference books. The current package price for the books is $287 and 50% of what you paid in December of 2012 for the course is $650.00. This is a total of $937.00. This is a savings of $750.00 and includes a third exception to PPI policy. This is the best I can do for you. Please contact Sonja at XXX-XXX-XXXX ext. 121 by November 5th at 5PM PST to take advantage of this offer. Unfortunately, after this deadline, website pricing will apply. I wish you the best in the future. We provided Mr. ***** with three exceptions to PPI policy (all back-up and the PPI policy is attached to this response). In our final email we offered him a savings of $750.00 with a 50% discount on the course and a special discount on the required materials. Mr. ***** decided to accept none of our three offers. Our customers trust us to treat them fairly and equally. This is important to us and to the quality of the products we offer. We offered Mr. ***** reasonable alternatives which he declined. Final Consumer Response /* (3000, 7, 2014/01/16) */ (The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.) PPI Guarantee to Pass was not honored. I spoke to several customer service representatives regarding my specific situation and was advised to re-enroll within my one year window. They required an email to make the change. Once the email chains started, PPI started requested additional funds. All in all, the following guarantee was not honored, "We guarantee that if you meet the course completion requirements you will pass your exam. If you don't pass, you can retake the course for free within one year of the date you purchased the original course." I am requesting a full refund.
Problems with Product/Service
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Complaint: I spend $300 attend the PPI online study program,when I login I find out its a trap.Ask for refund immediately,they told me cancel will charge me $200 Am a architect student, just on the way to prepare the Architect Registration Exam, The study books the PPI published are the most popular learning guide in the market. I always use their book to prepare my exams. The Books are helpful and that's why I trust them. And that's why I spend $300 to attend the so called "ARE Passing Zones (Guided Study Programs)" Programming, Planning & Practice section. The advertisement says "The ARE Programming, Planning & Practice Passing Zone is a 4-week interactive, online study program that offers the knowledge and support of an experienced ARE advisor and a like-minded student community. It is an excellent resource for recent graduates or seasoned pros that need a quick refresher before the exam. ....." and they promise to provide "Features Post questions any time. Receive personal expert responses. Read posts from other examinees, along with corresponding responses. Search a complete archive of past questions and answers. Follow a proven study schedule." but when I login I find out its a TRAP. The so called study program actually is an forum, which allowed the student discuss online. and there is no study material, no handout, and the most absurd is, the "study schedule" is actually the content of book (the PPI published are study guide) For example, the week one study schedule is "Read Chapters 2 and 53 of the ARE Review Manual" THAT's IT! no more word! its absurd to sell a empty forum (no past threads, no one provide help there) I'm angry and ask for refund immediately, but when I contact with the customer service, they talk to me like this "have you read the agreement term when you place the order?" I said "no, could you remind me?" she said "it says if you wanna cancel the program, the PPI will charge you $200" Well an extra fees nestled into the fine print amid blaring agreement terms. here is some reason why I have notice them 1st of all, in the beginning I don't believe PPI will sell such a trash at this high price! I spend a large part of my month salary to attend this program and have not think of before they are liar. 2nd, no one could notice the hidden term in the long agreement, It's fraud! I insist to ask for full refund of this order, and I will not trust this rogue firms again
Desired Settlement: full refund of my order, $300 and compensate me $200 for my time losses to file complains
Business Response: Initial Business Response /* (1000, 5, 2014/01/15) */ Contact Name and Title: ***** ********** Contact Phone: XXX-XXX-XXXX Contact Email: ***********@ppi2pass.com ** ** contacted us for a refund and was initially offered a refund less the $200 admin fee which he agreed to when purchasing. As a courtesy, we have credited the customer the full amount of his purchase. The credit will be processed by January 24, 2014.