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BBB Business Review

BBB Accredited Business since 01/01/2007

Hillcrest Media Group, Inc.

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Phone: (612) 455-2293Fax: (612) 455-2297View Additional Phone Numbers322 1st Ave N Ste 500, MinneapolisMN 55401-1618 Send email to Hillcrest Media Group, Inc.View Additional Web Addresses

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We provide book publishing, printing, distribution, marketing, and ebook conversion services to small presses and individual authors through a variety of specific websites.

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BBB Accreditation

A BBB Accredited Business since 01/01/2007

BBB has determined that Hillcrest Media Group, Inc. 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.

BBB accreditation does not mean that the business' products or services have been evaluated or endorsed by BBB, or that BBB has made a determination as to the business' product quality or competency in performing services.

Reason for Rating

BBB rating is based on 13 factors. Get the details about the factors considered.

Factors that raised Hillcrest Media Group, Inc.'s rating include:

  • Length of time business has been operating.
  • Complaint volume filed with BBB for business of this size.
  • Response to 4 complaint(s) filed against business.
  • Resolution of complaint(s) filed against business.

Customer Complaints SummaryRead complaint details

4 complaints closed with BBB in last 3 years | 1 closed in last 12 months
Complaint TypeTotal Closed Complaints
Delivery Issues1
Problems with Product / Service3
Advertising / Sales Issues0
Billing / Collection Issues0
Guarantee / Warranty Issues0
Total Closed Complaints 4

Customer Reviews Summary Read customer reviews

0 Customer Reviews Customer Reviews on Hillcrest Media Group, Inc.

Customer Experience Total Customer Reviews
Positive Experience
Neutral Experience
Negative Experience
Total Customer Reviews 0 Customer Reviews

Complaint Breakdown by Resolution

Complaint Resolution Log (4)BBB Closure Definitions
04/22/2015Delivery Issues | Read Complaint Details

purchased e book to read on my kindle and could not get book downloaded to kindle device because of horrible and complex instructions. Want refund.
Was directed to this company by not her organization (FA) so I could purchase FA program manual, kindle format. I used link from FA website. I gave my information to e book seller. I gave address and credit card info. I ordered book. Nothing happened, there were no instructions or links to get the book onto my kindle. I initiated online chat with customer service. Rep wrote me she sent me a PDF which I do not know how to find or use on my device (the tablet I used to order the e book) so she sent an email next. It contained very technical information to get the book to my kindle, but it talked about a program not on my tablet, where I think the book file exists. The instructions were confusing, clearly intended for persons with high level of computer skills. Chat service person told me to do the reading on my computer since I couldn't get it to the kindle. She wrote that refund was impossible, a policy that was an industry standard, because the file could not be returned. I cant use the book if it is not on my kindle because it is best for my eyesite. I feel victimized by lazy customer service and bad instructions. Name of e book is FOOD ADDICTS IN RECOVERY ANONYMOUS, purchased today 4/7/15.

Desired Settlement
Refund my debit card, I promise to delete your e book file from my tablet which I can't use for reading anyway. Suggest you write very detailed download or side load instructions for people who don't use computers much.

Business Response
***response has been scanned in and converted to text below (original document is available using the online complaint system).

Dear Mr. ******,
The customer purchased an eBook file from Hillcrest on 4/7/2015. We received a live support message from the customer the same day in which she asked us how to transfer the eBook to her Kindle device.
When an eBook is purchased, we send the customer an email that has a link to the file. This link allows the customer to download the file and save it to his or her computer. We also provide instructions, which detail how the customer can either read the eBook on their computer or transfer the eBook to a device. When an eBook is purchased through any company other than the one that manufactures the device, transferring or "sideloading" the eBook to the device is a manual process. We attempt to provide as much support as possible to assist our customers with this.Our customer service representative responded to the chat request letting the customer know that she would need to sideload the eBook to her Kindle and that we would provide her with instructions to help.
Within 30 seconds our customer service representative sent the customer a PDF through the live support window which contained additional instructions on how to transfer the eBook to a Kindle. The customer did not understand how to open the PDF from the live support window, so our representative offered to send her the instructions via email. The transcript for that conversation is as follows:

10:48:45 AM: ******: How do I get the book to my kindle..? 10:48:48 AM:
Call accepted by operator *****. Currently in room: ******, *****.
10:49:01 AM: *****: Hello ******, you will need to sideload your eBook to your Kindle. 10:49:12 AM: *****: There are a few ways to do this, I will send you some instructions that can help
10:49:22 AM:
***** has sent a file. Click Kindle Help.pdf (155 KB) to receive the file.
10:49:24 AM: ******: .??? 10:50:54 AM: ******: Are you there? 10:51:12 AM: *****: Yes I am, were you able to download the PDF I sent you? 10:52:09 AM: ******: I have no idea what you mean . I need the book on my kindle. 10:52:26 AM: *****: Yes, I sent you some instructions that explain how to get the eBook on your Kindle 10:52:32 AM: *****: I can email them to you if that is easier
10:53:13 AM: ******: Yes please. ****** 10:53:23 AM: *****: Thank you, just one minute! 10:54:26 AM: *****: I just emailed you, please let me know if you do not receive them in the next minute or two 10:54:53 AM: ******: Ok 11:01:34 AM:
****** is now off-line and may not reply. Currently in room: *****.

As you can see from the transcript, our representative was prompt and courteous. When the customer was not able to download the instructions, our representative offered an alternative means of providing them, and remained in the chat room until the customer ended the conversation.

We received a second chat request from the customer five minutes after she disconnected from the chat room. The customer conveyed that she did not have the necessary computer skills to transfer the file to her Kindle device and wanted a refund. She also stated that she assumed we would be able to send the file to her device via her Amazon account. When our representative explained that we are not able to automatically send a file to her Kindle because we are not affiliated with Amazon, the customer replied that her only option then was to file a complaint with the BBB. While we made further attempts to resolve the issue by again offering an alternate format for the file, the customer exited the chat room.

As part of the transaction when purchasing a digital product, we feel that it is our obligation to 1) ensure that the customer receives the link in their email to the digital product and 2) successfully retrieves the digital product from that link. We go above and beyond this obligation by also attempting to assist customers with loading the file onto third-party devices. Since these devices are not manufactured by us, the amount of support we are capable of providing is limited. We attempt to make the instructions as clear as possible. For example:
"Connect your Kindle device to your PC using a USB cable.
In Windows Explorer / File Explorer your Kindle will either appear as an additional drive, or as a Kindle device, in either case copy the ".mobi" file into the folder "Books" (Kindle Fire devices) or "Documents" (Kindle Paperwhite and older devices) in the device's internal storage.
After it has been copied safely disconnect your Kindle and the book should appear on the device's list of books."

Based on the conversation history, we can see that the customer contacted us within five minutes of receiving the instructions for how to transfer the file. It is unlikely that she was able to open her email, download the instructions, read the instructions, and follow the instructions to complete the transfer in less than five minutes. While we understand that the instructions for transferring the file to a device may be more challenging to some, we are not able to provide effective assistance unless the customer is willing to attempt to transfer the file, then ask us specific questions where they do not understand. It is also clear that the Customer had some confusion with regard to how her Kindle device functions, as it is not possible for any company not affiliated with Amazon to automatically send an eBook to a Kindle upon purchase.

Lastly, the customer's request for a refund was declined for the following reasons:
1. The Customer Agreement upon purchase clearly states: " does not offer refunds."
2. Our representative made an effort to offer an alternate format of the digital product that the customer might find easier to utilize.
3. The product was not defective in any way, and the customer was able to access the download link for the product.
4. We do not consider the inability of the customer to move the files from their computer to a third-party device grounds for a refund of a digital product we provide.

That being said, we would like to resolve this customer's complaint in a satisfactory and expedient manner and have thus issued the customer a full refund in the amount of $9.00.

04/14/2014Problems with Product / Service | Read Complaint Details

"Customer" treated like "Naughtie Child".
PG Did EXACTLY what I instructed them Not to Do!
I'm not a Revenue Generator!

Naughties from the Netïïïïïïïïïïïïïïï #1 - ($3,164.00)
Order ID: ***** (
Sales Rep: ********** (eBook Sales Manager) ****************
Order Date: 5/30/2013
Order Details: Paid by eComicLoL, LLC Visa on file
Customized Facebookïïïïïïïïïïïïïïïïïïïïïïïïï® Fan Page - $299.00
Customized Twitterïïïïïïïïïïïïïïïïïïïïïïïïï® Page - $399.00
FYI: Facebook and Twitter 'Customizing' Instructions almost the same time
When (This) Problem Began: 10/30/2013

A. ***** knows how to ask me questions (even if I already answered it).
B. She didn't read the Twitter Questionnaire I took PAINS TO TYPE OUT!

Questionnaire: my INSTRUCTIONS show I was Asked and I ANSWERED; AND IF CORRECT I WILL GO ON
I ASKED So "character7pigcharacter8cow.jpg" will not show but they will see the credit;
If that is correct I will go on.
This image is our logo and has been trademarked and MUST have a TM somewhere.
Also the name if placed anywhere would look like: Oink and MooMooïïïïïïïïïïïïïïï (I'm thinking I requested a Customized Page: *customize: to change something in order to fit the needs or requirements of a person, business, etc.
cus*tom*ized - cus*tom*iz*ing: to build, fit, or alter according to individual specifications.)
"Please review your Facebook Fan Page. Please review the page carefully, and either approve or indicate that you have additional revisions. Please Review (Revision Round 1 of 1)"

I Responded 2x: (Posted: 11/6/2013 9:37& 9:39 AM)
(1x) OK I'm confused about the facebook page.
I'm not sure what to say about it I didn't say in the instructions. Could you go back and read them again and call if you are confused? I do not type and I can not add them back here because they go over the character limit.

***** Responded (Posted: 11/6/2013 2:44 PM) Hi *******,This is a first draft for your Facebook Fan Page and we can certainly update it further...We will need you to enter any revisions you have and complete the Approve/Revise Facebook Page step. Example Location - banner image Revision - include "Oink and MooMooTM" with the image. Center the image. Move text "Naughties from the Net" to appear below the image.
OK I will try this again! (Posted: 11/12/2013 6:01 AM)
OK, let's look at the Loud Noise Link together 1st. I so appreciate your hard work but I actually thought I would get a more similar result to Loud Noises. I will use their terminology and give examples and reference certain facebook pages they use on their site. I can't do the revisions properly because we need to be on the same page and Loud Noises gives us that opportunity. So if you look 1st, then I can more clearly fill in the revision (Approve/Revise Facebook Page) instructions! Thanks for your patience!
Are you doing the Twitter Page too - I have similar concerns and a different Loud Noise link.
Hello *******, (Posted: 11/12/2013 4:19 PM)
Thank you for passing along the LoudNoises website, I have reviewed the site and we can take this into consideration for your Facebook design. We work with those images that you provide to create a professional looking Facebook page that is unique for your book.
(Posted: 12/20/2013 3:12 PM) We asked to cancel and pay hourly rate for work performed?
*****, ( Posted: 2/20/2014 8:05 AM)
NoNoNoNo I will Not REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT my 1st draft instructions.You are telling me to REPEAT AGAIN WHAT I ALREADY TOLD YOU THE 1ST TIME!
You MUST do YOUR JOB PROPERLY 1st so I can do mine. Repeating isn't my job,re-reading the instructions and asking questions WHEN YOU DON'T GET IT is YOUR JOB! The instructions HAVE NOT CHANGED. I have 2 rounds (then extra charges) so GO BACK and simply follow the same instructions I gave you the 1st time

Desired Settlement
The stress from this experience should NEVER be experienced by anyone anywhere EVER! I was treated like an idiot and charged for the service! The customer was never right and if thrown a bone should be grateful! Pffffft! Say you are sorry AND refund the $698 for the Customized Facebookïïïïïïïïïïï® Fan Page - $299.00 (***************?skip_nax_wizard=true)
Customized Twitterïïïïïïïïïïï® Page - $399.00
What you delivered as a 1st step is terrible! Anyone at PG bother to LOOK and correct the EMPLOYEE before the EMPLOYER/CUSTOMER! You should be ashamed instead you allow an employee to push me to another round of incompetence! Look at what we paid for from YOU and what we did over 3 Beers in 3 Hours! Should've shut up and just delivered! It is obvious to anyone w/eyes that can read the INSTRUCTIONS from YOUR QUESTIONNAIRES WERE NOT NOT NOT Followed! Escalating my account was a mistake I hope you will ask forgiveness for!

Business Response
Ms. ****** purchased a Facebook Fan Page and Twitter Page. These services involve a collaboration between our staff and customer to create customized pages within the and websites. The execution of both services involve: the customer (Ms. ******) filling out a questionnaire, creating a draft based on her recommendations and guidelines, presenting the draft back to the customer, and getting feedback from the customer and revising the draft. In both cases, we followed the customer's instructions and created an initial draft of each page. We presented the draft to the customer and she was allowed to accept the page or decline and ask for revisions. The customer declined the pages with no revision requests and refused to provide us intelligible revision requests to complete the task.

Attached as Exhibit A are the terms of the Facebook Fan Page and Twitter Page services that the customer agreed to. Section II of the terms states that once the service is commenced there are no refunds. And, per section II, "Commencement Service" is when customer approves their final bio, book cover and book synopsis (which customer did). Further, Section IV of the terms states "While Hillcrest will attempt to create a Fan Page that fulfills the Customer's vision, the Customer acknowledges that his/her dissatisfaction with any creative element is not grounds for any refund."

We took the customer's requests and designed pages around her recommendations. Attached as Exhibit B are the customer's notes in our system that we used to create the pages. Some of it is impossible to follow. We interpreted these instructions and created a mock-up of the Facebook page (Exhibit C) and a Twitter page mock-up (Exhibit D).

At this point in our process, the customer gets two rounds of revisions. As you can see in Exhibit E (the correspondence with the customer), we instructed the customer on three separate occasions on how to submit revisions (11/6/2103, 11/12/2013, and 2/19/2014, respectively). The customer refused, instead wrote to the staff:

*****, NoNoNoNo I will Not REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT my 1st draft instructions. You are telling me to REPEAT AGAIN WHAT I ALREADY TOLD YOU THE 1ST TIME! You MUST do YOUR JOB PROPERLY 1st so I can do mine. Repeating isn't my job, re-reading the instructions and asking questions WHEN YOU DON'T GET IT is YOUR JOB! The instructions HAVE NOT CHANGED and you'll need to question me on each step You Don't Understand in the 1st draft. I have 2 rounds (then extra charges) so GO BACK and simply follow the same instructions I gave you the 1st time. (We followed them and in 3 hrs and 3 beers we came up w/a VERY DIFFERENT RESULT! WE SENT YOU THE CHEAT AND YOU STILL CAN'T SEE HOW YOUR JOB (doesn't)compare!)

We make first drafts and anticipate that the customer will submit revisions. This is a collaborative process and depends upon specific and clear feedback from a customer to complete the work. This customer was not providing clear direction and we attempted to make sense of what she wrote to create working drafts of both pages.

We await the customer's specific change requests so that we can complete this service for her. Alternatively, even though she is not entitled to any refund, and as we have already started the work, we will refund her $100 for each of the services, consider the matter closed and will stop working on the pages and send her whatever files we have created to date. Again, we are happy to continue to work as long as the customer actually provides adequate revision requests. However, if she continues to refuse, in an effort to end this, we will cease work and provide $100 refund.

Consumer Response
March 24, 2014 Rebuttal to Publish Green's (PG/Hillcrest Media Group, Inc.,) Response
The Company's response does not address all of the facts & does not fully resolve my issue.

POD (Print on Demand) has come a long way and I have learned a lot from PG. At times I felt like I was in College learning the 'lingo' and importance of consistency in uniform file names (especially to insert images into an eBook properly). At my age (53) I was confused by a lot and was kindly told by PG to ask questions first before submitting instruction forms. It was a bit like the blind men describing the elephant for ME in the beginning because I was a first time author. Plus there were Trademark Issues and new marketing (branding) images that required much more than I believe PG was set up to give. If I had a straight forward novel, I suspect there would have been no problems. If you come out of the box in anyway with your book - run like your butt is on fire from this company! They are ALWAYS polite even when they are dead wrong! It makes this complaint more difficult because they are so nice!

I must begin by itemizing the (9) files I've received from the BBB Moderator in a forwarded email from PG. There are 4 "Exhibit B" files and we all must be on the same item to respond so here is a "KEY" by item number. (Funny, I wrote the joke book and needing a "KEY" is sort of a joke, no?)

Item 1 - PG File: Exhibit A Terms of Services pdf
Item 2 - PG File: Exhibit B Facebook Instructions jpg
Item 3 - PG File: Exhibit B Facebook Instructions pdf
Item 4 - PG File: Exhibit B Twitter Instructions jpg
Item 5 - PG File: Exhibit B Twitter Instructions pdf
Item 6 - PG File: Exhibit C Facebook Full Page jpg
Item 7 - PG File: Exhibit D Twitter Full Page jpg
Item 8 - PG File: Exhibit E Full Correspondence pdf
Item 9 - PG File: Suzanne ****** BBB Reply pdf

Item 1 - PG File: Exhibit A Terms of Services pdf
(Note Typo Section 2 Fb v. Twitter - "CustomerseBook/download" v "Customers eBook/download"...I noted many typos in the process and told PG, maybe I ticked them off?)

I expected a 'CUSTOMIZED' Page: customize: to change (something) in
order to fit the needs or requirements of a person, business, etc.
customized - customizing: to build, fit, or alter according to individual specifications.

(Item 9 - BBB Reply) "The customer declined the pages with no revision requests and refused to provide us intelligible revision requests to complete the task." I think PG should do their job 1st and if 'confused' should re-read the instructions THEN ask questions of me. Exactly what they asked me to do!

"If Customer desires any other changes to the Fan Page after the two rounds of revisions, Customer shall pay $90.00 (ninety dollars) per hour, with a $90 minimum charge. Such revisions will be completed within 10-20 business days from the date of payment by Customer." (FYI: My friend and I took 3 hours to do it right the first time)
"...there is no guarantee that Customer will like the Fan Page developed by Hillcrest despite Hillcrest's best efforts. While Hillcrest will attempt to create a Fan Page that fulfills the Customer's vision".

"Give a man a shovel and if he can't dig a hole, what good is he?"
Give a COO & Company instructions and they are confused, by the first line...?

For MY 'Vision' See Item 2, 3 4 & 5. These first 4 Lines of Instructions given WERE NOT Followed!
"Use the character7pigcharacter8cow.jpg as the banner or largest image.
(Their Names Are Oink and Moo MooTM &/or"
Followed by:
"Make the covertmfinal.jpg complimentary to it as 2nd largest image
This is our book cover."
"Make sure the names below appear ALONE w/the Trademark Symbol after like this:
Annette PeakeTM
Naughties from the NetTM
Oink and MooMooTM"
"ANY QUESTIONS - CALL ME Please ************"

Item 6 - 7 are PG Screen Shots but fail to show a decent comparison of both our work here!

Item 8 Shows all the messages between PG and Me.
Marta asks a question I already answered
"Do you currently have a Twitter account that is dedicated for your book, or will you need us to create one for you?" (10.30.13)
I responded,
"Opps - Thought I ticked off 'No' on both Twitter and Facebook." (10.30.13)
And I responded again after seeing the Fb Page,
"OK I'm confused about the facebook page.
I'm not sure what to say about it I didn't say in the instructions.
Could you go back and read them again and call if you are confused?" (11.6.13)

Item 9 in the BBB Reply by the COO in response to our call clearly says, and I quote,
"Attached as Exhibit B are the customer's notes in our system that we used to create the pages. Some of it is impossible to follow. We interpreted these instructions and created a mock-up of the Facebook page (Exhibit C) and a Twitter page mock-up (Exhibit D)."
Really, you could not follow 4 lines of instructions and had to INTERPET them? I am supposed to ask questions but PG can "interpret" 4 lines. "We took the customer's requests and designed pages around her recommendations" Really? Where's the name Oink and MooMooTM for starters?
and again...
"...This customer was not providing clear direction and we attempted to make sense of what she wrote to create working drafts of both pages."

I believe Publish Green's response proved my point.
PG didn't read the instructions when performing the service and didn't read it again to respond.
A friend and I sat down and followed the same instructions and came up with entirely different results in 3 hours over 3 beers! Why PG is being so stubborn is making me think it's about more money.

So I'm sticking to my story, I was clear in the first 4 lines; PG disagrees so we let the BBB decide.

Business Response
Ms. ****** purchased a Facebook Fan Page and Twitter Page. We followed the customer's instructions, and created initial drafts and presented them to the customer. Ms. ****** refused to give us anything clear or workable to help us complete the pages. An example from her latest response was, "Give a man shovel and if he can't dig a hole, what good is he?" This is indecipherable. Other feedback was vague and confusing like, "Their names are Oink and MooMooTM &/or".

When we asked for clarification it was met with responses by Ms. ****** of, "You are telling me to REPEAT AGAIN WHAT I ALREADY TOLD YOU THE 1st TIME. You MUST do YOUR JOB PROPERLY 1st so I can do mine..."Repeating isn't my job, re-reading the instructions and asking questions WHEN YOU DON'T GET IT is YOUR JOB!".

Section II of the terms state that once the service has commenced there will be no refunds. Ms ****** completed our draft questionnaires, we created and presented initial drafts, and we have attempted to elicit clear revision instruction from Ms. ******. Although no refund is warranted, as we have already created the first round of pages, we will refund $150.00 for each service (up from $100 in our last response), $300.00 total, and consider the matter closed.

06/02/2014Problems with Product / Service | Read Complaint Details

This company will not give me my correct Sales report and Royalties. They will not check for Errors.I am treated rudely and told me to prove it.
"Hillcrest Media" will not answer my questions and if they do I get a run around.
In Sept. 2013, paid them just under $1,000 with that they included an editing fee which they did not do. They did not do anything that they said they would. It is now April 24,2014 and they said my Royalties from Amazon and iBooks are $38.00.
When they told me they would market and distribute my book, I borrowed $1,500 to advertise, and promote my book to get it out there.
I told "******" from Hillcrest that selling only 12 books in 3 months does not sound right.
"******" told me that if I felt I sold more then PROVE IT and to get receipts..!!

I called "Amazon" to confirm my sales and I was told that "Hillcrest Media" handles my book, that it was between "Amazon" and "Hillcrest".It's up to Hillcrest to give me the Royalties.

Desired Settlement
I want a true and accurate accounting of my sales. I want the report from Amazon and iBooks. When I asked for help not one of their "team" helped me. Instead they all told me to "Prove it" well I want them to "Prove it". I hired them. I paid them $994.72 plus another $100 for fees to get my book out there.I spent another $1,500 to promote my book. I invested $2,500 all together for $38.81 in sales. I know more then 12 books were sold. I feel their behavior is unbelievable and rude. I sent *********** 7 letters and not one was answered. I wrote to him as his "team" was rude to . They told me that I was on the top ranking list on Amazon, then they told me that Amazon was "secretive and not forth coming", when my sales went up on Amazon..So why did Hillcrest NOT tell me this when they hooked me up to Amazon?
I feel that I am being ripped off and I want the CEO to look into this matter. That's all for now.

Business Response
***response has been scanned in and converted to text below (full version is available using the online complaint system).

Mr. ****** is asking for something he has already been provided - an accurate accounting of his and Apple iBookstore ebook sales from January-March 2014. Mr. ****** claims to have engaged in self-marketing activities like hanging up flyers and printing postcards and believed that those activities would yield more sales than were actually made. While we understand Mr. ****** was disappointed in the ebook sales that resulted from his own marketing efforts, the sales data provided to him was and remains accurate. From January 2014 through March 31, 2014, Mr. ****** sold 11 ebooks through Amazon and one through the iBookstore. Attached as Exhibit A is the print out of his sales report through our system. What Mr. ****** spent to market his book or how he did it, is not something we are privy to. The fact that he claims he created flyers, vinyl banners, business cards and put an ad in a newspaper, is not something that we have any involvement in and obviously have no way to know how effective such material would be or even what it contained and/or looked like. It appears that Mr. ******'s book marketing efforts did not yield him the results he had hoped to achieve.

The reporting between Amazon and Apple and our system is direct. The data is not altered in any way. Mr. ****** had a relative, ********* ******, contact us on April 22, 2014, to inquire about the sales. Attached as Exhibit B is the response to Ms. ****** via our Author Center that our author coordinator, ****** ******, wrote on that same day. She explained how Amazon reports sales to us. ****** then explained that if Mr. ****** had specific knowledge that more sales were made than reported for a specific month, we would need evidence of that (like receipts from customers) in order to demonstrate to Amazon that there was a discrepancy in its reporting. This is the type of information Amazon requires from us in such a case. Simply telling Amazon, "We believe there were more sales than those reported", won't even get us a response.

With regard to the services we provided, Mr. ****** received all of the services he paid for. He paid $399 for the publishing package that included formatting of his manuscript and distribution to and Apple iBookstore. He paid an additional $90 because he had 40 images in his book (the package includes formatting of 10 images, additional ones at $3/image). He also paid $505.72 ($.02/word) and received an edit of his manuscript which was 25,296 words. Mr. ****** uploaded his manuscript on September 20, 2013. His edited manuscript was then sent back to him on October 21, 2013. He downloaded the edited manuscript on October 22, 2013 to review. Then uploaded his final manuscript for formatting on November 5, 2013. Mr. ****** paid an additional $50 for revisions he wanted made to his book after the formatting process had been completed and approved. All work contracted for was provided.

Mr. ****** did not hire us to provide any marketing services for his book.

At all times we responded to Mr. ****** professionally and quickly. There was nothing rude in our responses. The attached responses from our staff demonstrate such professionalism. Mr. ******'s demands to speak to our CEO were not ones that could be accommodated as we explained to Mr. ****** that our CEO was not the proper person to discuss sales data with as the CEO would need to consult with the very employees already dealing with him. Mr. ****** spoke on the phone with our author coordinator, then our Director of ePublishing, and received a message from our COO attempting to set up a call and offering to bring in the CEO, if the situation warranted (Attached as Exhibit C). Mr. ****** never responded.

At no time did Ms. ****** tell Mr. ****** of Ms. ****** that his book was at the top of the Amazon sales ranking. Ms. ****** wrote the following message in our message center:

Aloha *****,

We found this on Amazon for ****'s book. "Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,327,649" What does this mean? Is his book rated at 1 in 333,649? Thanks in advance for any help you can give us :)

Ms. ****** explained the following,

"Hi *********,

My name is ****** and I'm the new Author Coordinator here at Publish Green. Just like *****, I'll be happy to help answer any questions you may have about your eBook.

Amazon rankings are a tricky thing. They are quite secretive about the algorithm they use to generate rankings and they can change wildly from day to day. While the number you gave me would mean that this book was ranked number 1,327,649 when I checked this morning it had jumped to: Amazon Best Sellers Rank #102,583. Generally speaking, if you want to improve the ranking of a book, things like positive reviews can help just as much as sales but, as I mentioned, they are not very forthcoming about exactly which factors determine the number.

Hopefully that helps, but let me know if you have any further questions."

While we understand that Mr. ****** and Ms. ****** are frustrated that his marketing efforts did not yield him the sales he expected, the reporting from Amazon and Apple is correct. Mr. ****** is requesting something we've already provided him - accurate sales data. However, Mr. ****** or someone from the BBB is welcome to come to our office and watch our Director of ePublishing log into our Amazon and Apple accounts to view the sales reports this way. This way, Mr. ****** and/or the BBB can view the raw sales data. We are happy to make such accommodation. Given how we transfer the data, the results will be the same as those already reported as they have been double and triple checked. Without proof that there may be a sales discrepancy, we have nothing to present to Amazon or Apple. This is why we asked Mr. ****** to send us any information he had that would help show that there were more sales made than what Amazon and Apple reported to us. Another option would be that we stop distributing Mr. ******'s book and provide him the files to distribute to Amazon and Apple directly. Again, this may ease his mind as to the accuracy of the sales reports as he would then deal directly with those retailers. We are happy to provide either or both of these options. But, the sales reports are accurate.

Consumer Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
I have lost all confidence in Hillcrest Media Publishing Company.
Hillcrest has not been honest in their response here. They are trying to discredit me and play down my complaint.
When I questioned Hillcrest about an error they put it on "me" to provide receipts. They never offered to help me or check. Now they say they checked for errors..!!.WHEN ?

Yes, they were prompt, all with the same response. Like they were reading the same script they all followed for handling customers. Which I feel is very rude.

Employee *Liz told me that she would take away my "phone privileges" that was after 2 calls.. I feel that was unprofessional and rude

I was told by the KHON2 T.V. News (Action Line) here in Hawaii to go to the CEO ************** and speak to him. I did not respond again to the COO as I told him I wanted to talk to ************* I was waiting for the CEO to respond to me.

The *employee who responded to this B.B.B complaint is putting words in my mouth and assuming things that are not true saying "Mr. ****** was disappointed in the ebook sales that resulted from his own marketing" this statement is an out an out lie by the respondent (employee??) to my complaint. I have never said that or anything like that.
I am disappointed in Hillcrest., and NOT in any efforts I made.

I have my receipt for the $1,500. newspaper ad and story I did. I had a lot of very positive feedback from the newspaper which has a circulation of 209,915 just on weekdays.

I work for a tour company and have access to a lot of tourists who were interested in my book and I personally watched them order and read my book, we talked about my book as they read it going around the Island for hours.!
Yes, we did talk to influential people in Waikiki that I and my wife met, or we know through her job and mine. Quite a lot of important people come to Hawaii and our jobs give us access to meeting them. My wife is a manager at a prestigious hotel in Waikiki. We have a large family and they were also very helpful with getting the word out about my book.
The vinyl banners were put at a popular place where other Hawaiian authors and artists post banners and meet. We gave out flyers or business cards to interested people would ask for more information, like my website. There were never postcards made.!

Hillcrest is inviting me to come from Hawaii to view the reports at their office. I find that absurd, and rude to suggest that as a solution
When they can just mail me the real report..

***** of Hillcrest Media was introduced to my mother ********* and he knew she was going to help with the editing and work on the manuscript back on Sept.24,2014. She had been in contact with ***** and others there. She is not just "some random relative" who I asked to inquire for me. She had been actively helping with the editing from the start and if the Hillcrest *employee who wrote this response would just look in their own Hillcrest message box they will see that.

Yes I did pay $994.74 for the Advanced ePublishing Package. I did not expect them to run ads for the book but I did expect that when it was put on *Amazon as a "New Released Book* that it "may" or "might" be featured until a new book got uploaded on *Amazon then my book will be moved down. I did not expect a publicity campaign.

I paid $500 for the editing. The editor kept forgetting to insert the images so ********* or myself had to do it over and over. I had to install a new program on *********s computer to view the editing and make corrections. The editing work from Hillcrest was shoddy and messed up, it was confusing trying figure out the mistakes they made and do it ourselves.. ********* and I had to resize the cover a few times and the they did not correct the mis-spelling on the Cover or catch it. So,I had to pay $50 to *Amazon for the correction. I had no problem paying for editing , but I did not get what I paid for. I paid $500 for this service and ********* or I did most of the work.!

The letter from ******* is what I am talking about. If Amazon is *so secretive and *not forthcoming. Then why did Hillcrest Media tell me this information when I signed on for *Amazon through Hillcrest?
Yes, I did ask about my ranking on "Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,327,649" and when I ran the news paper ad and story it went up to #50,000.I was just trying to understand what that meant. I still got NO answer. I deserve an answer. ******, just blamed it all on *Amazon some what.Now they are blaming my sales on me.

I am sorry but nothing was resolved,.The response by an *employee was dishonest and not satisfactory. They are throwing in creative lies to disguise the issue. Which is the real sales report of my book.
B.B.B. Now you can see how Hillcrest handles inquiries and how they treat to their customers.

**** ******

Final Business Response
Mr. ****** has already been provided an accurate reporting of his ebook sales from Amazon and Apple for the time period of January-March 2014. They are exact and there isn't anything more accurate than can be provided. But, since Mr. ****** doesn't believe the reports, the only solution is to invite Mr. ****** or a representative of his to come to our office, and watch us log in to Apple and Amazon, in order to confirm that our sales reporting is correct. We believe that watching the sales reports being opened directly in our Amazon and Apple accounts will corroborate that the sales figures we've reported to Mr. ****** are accurate. We realize that it is unrealistic for Mr. ****** to travel from Hawaii to review sales reports, thus we are open to him appointing any reasonable third-party of his choice to watch us open the sales reports in real time.

Because of the way both of these companies report the raw sales data to us, sales of every book we distribute are contained in the same quarterly reports receive from Amazon and Apple. Obviously, we cannot give Mr. ****** our login information to these accounts as they contain information about thousands of other titles.

As for some of the other issues Mr. ****** is complaining about, Mr. ****** created his own cover and any misspellings on it were caused by him. We uploaded the cover he instructed us to use. We only edited the manuscript. The insertion of image tags is always the author's responsibility. It is the only way we can know where to place the images when we format the books.

With regard to Amazon sales rank, it changes hourly and is based on factors and weighted in ways that we are not privy to. There are many articles online speculating about how to translate the sales rank. One that may be instructive is Further, there is a Kindle Rank Calculator tool, which provides estimates on what a particular sales rank translates to in sales. If you go to and type in the sales rank of 50,000, you'll see that it equates to approximately one sale. From reading the Walsh article and others, you can see that a drop from 1,300,000 to 50,000 likely means that it went from no sales to one sale in the snapshot of time that it was checked.

As stated earlier, short of having a third-party watch us log into our Apple and Amazon accounts, we have no other way to present the sales data than we already have.

We will resolve this matter the only possible way that now exists:

Invite Mr. ****** to send a representative of his choosing to our office to our office to observe us logging into our Apple and Amazon accounts and specifically observing the data that contains Mr. ******'s sales reports. This way, Mr. ******'s representative can confirm and validate that our sales reporting is accurate. Mr. ******'s representative can contact us and make arrangements for a visit at a mutually convenient time.

By no later than June 30, 2014, we will cease the distribution of Mr. ******'s book, will refund from the remaining six months of distribution services of $50 (We charge $99 per year to be in distribution with Amazon and Apple, thus, the prorated amount for the uncompleted distribution term (from July-December 2014) is $50). Finally, we will provide him all of his ebook files so that he can distribute the books directly through these retailers. Therefore, in the future he will have direct access to sales reports from resellers and will be able to communicate with them directly.

By no later July 7, 2014, we will pay Mr. ****** for the sales as reported to us during the sales period of April 1 - June 30, 2014. He was already paid $38.81 (on 4/22/14) for the sales period of January 1- March 31, 2014.

To sum up: It is clear that Mr. ****** does not believe the sales numbers we've reported, so this is the only solution. Mr. ****** can send a representative to our office at any time (so long as the time works for both parties) and we will login to our Amazon and Apple accounts in front of that observer, which will corroborate the accuracy of our reporting. If for any reason our sales numbers are not correct, we will pay Mr. ****** double for any previously undiscovered sale.

Finally, by providing Mr. ****** the files so that he can distribute the book on his own, he will have direct access to the retailers and if he has future questions about his sales, he will be able to work directly with them.

01/02/2014Problems with Product / Service | Read Complaint Details

SUBJECT: Refusal to Refund Author/Client for Services Not Executed. In 2009 MCP was paid for self-publishing services. I worked with MCP intermittently for 2 years while attending a University. At all times, this intermittent work schedule was accepted by MCP. In 2011 there was a big break from working with MCP since I graduated & joined the U.S. Army & left the state for active duty training. In 2013, once I returned from Active Duty training I contacted MCP to begin working on the next publishing process steps. From 2011 to now I decided not to use MCP for certain services & requested a refund since they were paid but never provided services for the money. Their Chief Operations Officer (COO) stated they would not provide me a refund. To date they have been paid about $7,300. Once informed MCP would not provide a refund I cut communication & contacted my attorney. My attorney sent MCP a demand letter for a refund. The refund amount requested was $3,630 for all services MCP never executed or completed (Premium Publishing & Distribution Package $904 / Expanded Distribution Program $1,299 / Website Order Fulfillment $699 / Returns Program $199 / Marketing to Independent Bookstores $329 / Marketing Plan for Distributor $200.) In short, MCP was paid, they took the money, & they never provided these services for the money they took. They still refused to refund & offered a settlement agreement of $500. I did not accept their deal. There was a line in the settlement agreement that would have forbid me from ever speaking of my previous relationship with MCP. I still may decide to litigate in Minnesota court at a later date.
Product_Or_Service: Stated in Complaint Details

Desired Settlement
Full refund in the amount of $3,630.

Business Response
***response has been scanned in and converted to text below (full version is available using the online complaint system).

This is the response to the complaint filed by our customer who signed up for our services in March 2009 and for which we completed every part of the book publishing process that we could without his further cooperation. Our efforts included full editing of his book, cover design, interior layout, writing back cover copy, complete read-through and written assessment of his book, and responding to the customer any of the 119 times he logged into our system up through October 22, 2013.

It is unfortunate that our customer would provide untrue statements to the BBB. This customer knows that the remaining parts of the publishing process could only be completed once he approved his final book files. It is impossible to claim that because you (the customer) refuse to allow the services to be completed, that the company trying to provide them is somehow in breach. When the files are approved by the customer, every remaining service could be completed. Both our author coordinator and our COO (in an email to the customer's attorney) repeatedly asked that the customer finish the publishing process. For him to insinuate that our company is unwilling to provide those services is simply disingenuous.

Before addressing the merits of the customer's claim, it is important to discuss our settlement offer of nearly $500, which was not required contractually because of how far into the publishing process the customer was. Under the contract, the customer was entitled to no refund. However, we offered what we consider to be a fair amount. The customer hired an attorney with whom we communicated. After agreeing to the settlement amount, we asked our corporate counsel to draft a settlement agreement for us. It was drafted and sent on to the customer's lawyer. There was a boilerplate confidentiality clause in the agreement that both parties would be bound by. The customer's lawyer sent back the agreement with that clause crossed out (attached as Exhibit A-1). Our COO emailed the customer's lawyer asking him to provide any language that his client would feel more comfortable with:

Dear Mr. *****,

Thanks for returning a signed settlement agreement. Unfortunately, it is different from the one we sent. If your client decides to sign the one presented, we are ready to conclude this matter. Alternatively, if you can explain your client's specific issue with the term and would like to propose language that you think would work, we'd certainly be open to working with you on this one term in order to conclude this matter.

Thank You, **** *******

The customer's lawyer never responded, so we discussed the one clause at issue with our attorney and unilaterally removed it, notifying the customer's counsel as follows:

Mr. *****,

I've spoken to our legal counsel. We'll accept the settlement agreement with Mr.************** change. If that is agreeable, we will send out the check today. Please let me know.

Thanks, **** *******.

The customer then refused the amount and specific terms he had agreed to. Other than asking the customer to complete his order with us, then agreeing to the exact settlement terms the customer wanted and offering to send out the check that day, there isn't much more we could have done.

With regard to the merits of the case, when the customer ordered our services 4.5+ years ago, the contracts for the base publishing package and the add on services where agreed to at the same time, but were broken up into separate agreements internally as some of the services could be ordered independently. (For example, we do break out the returns program as a line in the "Order Detail" as it is a service that can be added if an author doesn't have it in included in a publishing package, but in this case it was ordered as part of the package). Attached as Exhibit A-2 is the customer's initial order for a publishing package of $3,298.

All of the items for which the customer demands a refund are addressed below in the order raised in his filing:

The customer is claiming a refund for the Premium Publishing & Distribution package. That is the basic part of our publishing process which includes the design of the cover and interior, assigning ISBN number, etc. Attached as Exhibit B is that contract.

There is no refund available for the $904 "Premium Publishing & Distribution Package" for which the customer has demanded a refund. The refund schedule to Addendum A of the publishing contract clearly states that once the author has completed the "Interior Layout Questionnaire" no refund of the publishing package is available. Not only did the customer submit the "Interior Layout Questionnaire", but the layout itself was done and waiting for him to download it. (Attached as Exhibit C, "Your interior layout is ready for your review"). Further, we had designed three cover concepts for the customer, the most recent of which is attached as Exhibit D.

The Expanded Distribution terms are attached as Exhibit E. Those terms state that, "Once the assessment of your book has been sent to one of our assessors for review, there are no refunds". Not only was the book sent to one of our assessors, a detailed four page written assessment was completed and made available to him on April 9, 2009 (Attached as Exhibit F).

The terms for the Website Order Fulfillment service are attached as Exhibit G. The Cancellation portion of Section V states that, "Should Author cancel at any time after purchasing or renewing the Service, no refunds or partial refunds shall be made".

The Returns Program is included as part of the Publishing Package contract under Section 10(c) of the publishing contract (See Exhibit B, page 12), and thus there are no refunds per Addendum A to the publishing contract, as the customer's interior layout had been completed.

Unless a specific service has its own refund schedule, it is governed by our General Terms and Conditions for Additional Services Offered by Mill City Press (Attached as Exhibit H).

The Marketing to Independent Bookstores and Marketing Plan for distributor terms are attached collectively as Exhibit I. Those terms don't have specific refund schedules but are governed by the General Terms and Conditions (See, Exhibit H).

This customer's statements about taking a break from the publishing process are not relevant as they did not deter our ability to provide him with the services when he was ready for them. It is clear from the customer's login history to our system (Attached as Exhibit J) that this customer logged in 119 times from the day he signed up in March 2009 up through and including October 22, 2013. In 2011, when he claims he decided not to use our company, he in fact, logged into our system 51 times. Also, On June 21, 2011 the customer had us provide additional revisions to manuscript. On September 1, 2011, the customer also had us provide some additional editing. To say that he was not engaging with us in 2011 is simply false. Similarly, in 2012, he logged in 28 times. In fact, on January 23, 2012, he paid for us to add some additional images to his manuscript interior. The invoices from June 21, 2011, September 1, 2011, and January 23, 2013 are collectively attached as Exhibit K.

Yes, by his own admission he took long breaks for whatever reason: 9 months (1/1/10-9/2/10) at one stretch, and another 10 months from July 2012 to April 2013. But, those breaks were his decision and the services he now complains about not being performed required him to approve his book files to be finalized.

For this customer to state that we took his money and didn't provide the services is false. The only services not completed were the ones the customer chose to not have completed. Further, the customer's decision to no longer proceed with those services does not entitle him to a refund. The contract is clear and we have been and continue to be ready, willing and able to provide these services.

It is clear that the customer's accusations of fraud are only put in his complaint for the purpose to cause damage to our company by creating a "public record". He admits as much in his complaint. We provided him the services contracted for and attempted to provide the last few services, but the customer refused to let us. That is not fraud. Even though the contract he agreed to did not provide any money back so late in the publishing process, as a good will measure, we offered $500. That is not fraud. And, then we agreed to the exact settlement terms the customer wanted. That is not fraud, either. We respectfully request that the BBB remove the false and inflammatory language of his complaint upon its sufficient review of the facts and documents provided.

Our company attempted to provide the services at issue and when the customer refused, we offered the customer nearly $500 even though contractually, we were not obligated to. We also agreed to execute the exact settlement agreement the customer wanted. But, the customer refused to accept the agreed upon terms for the sole purpose of attempting to disparage our name, despite knowing that the only reason we could not provide the remaining parts of the publishing process is because the customer refused to allow us to.

Final Consumer Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
The references to the original contract are interpreted differently between Mill City Press and my attorney with the firm ************************, A Law Corporation in California. As stated by my attorney, " the author only agreed to the Book Publishing Agreement, and that Agreement does not prohibit you from receiving a refund for services never rendered by MCP."

Furthermore, "...if you don't technically sign an agreement, the Court can enforce an oral agreement based on the parties' conduct and can look to documents like this to determine if any of its terms still control whether your signature is on it or not." What that further means, in short, from the beginning when initially hired, Mill City Press verbally agreed to the intermittent work schedule and nothing in the contract stipulates that the author must complete work in a designated period of time. Clearly Mr. ******* is attempting to spin his argument

What is more disconcerting is Mill City Press's attempts to maneuver me into signing the 'settlement agreement' discussed as it was their method of damage control. Let me explain, here are the options presented to me by **** *******:

MILL CITY PRESS (Stated by Mr. ******* to my attorney)

"At this point there are three options. Option 1 - Settlement. In order to settle this matter, in exchange for a full and complete release and termination of all services, we are willing to provide your client a refund of $498 for the following: Submission to Search Engines $299, Yearly Book Ordering Fee $100, eBook Creation Service $99. We will also send your client all of files we've created. If your client desires that route, we will send you a settlement and release agreement for you to discuss with your client and upon its execution, will get all files sent to your client and a check for $498 sent."

RESPONSE TO OPTION 1: First, Mr. *******'s numbers are incorrect. In this email he offered $498 not $500. This sheds light on the lack of attention to detail. Second, he offered $498 for a complete release and termination of all services.' At this time, he and Mill City Press have not secured a 'release and termination of all services.' Third, about the eBook Creation Service, Mill City Press offered me a PDF service or a credit that could be applied to the 'real' eBook service; which means they wanted more money for a service that I had already paid for. Fourth, Mill City Press still has my physical property (evidence of shipment available upon request) that I shipped to them in 2009 and has never returned it. Again, signs of corrupt practices. This leads to Option 2 which is as follows.

MILL CITY PRESS (Stated by Mr. ******* to my attorney)

"Option 2 - Continue Publishing with Mill City Press. If your client desires to continue publishing his book, he may continue working with our Author Coordinator, *****************, who he has already been having communications regarding restarting his project."

RESPONSE TO OPTION 2: If I opted to continue working with Mill City Press, it was explicitly stated that I would be bound by their 'new and updated terms of service.' Under this new contract, they would usurp the right to "fulfillment" of the published book. What that means is, for every book my team and I sold, they would take a handling fee of $1.50 per book sold, 'plus a 4.5 percent credit card processing fee' as well. Their website surreptitiously states, "There are no hidden fees attached" however Mill City Press does not let authors opt out of fulfillment. This is their backdoor royalty fee. I was told that if I opted to accept Option 2 that I could not handle my own fulfillment under the terms of the new agreement. This is contrary to our first verbal agreement when I first hired Mill City Press. In short, Mr. *******'s Option 2 is basically saying, "We at Mill City Press don't care if you no longer want our services and desire a refund for services we didn't execute. You will either take an egregiously reduced settlement and never speak about our relationship or forget about the money you paid and sign a new agreement in which we are going to take more money through 'handling fees."

Note, as my first submission stated, the Mill City Press has changed from their early beginning to now. When I signed up with Mill City Press it was verbally agreed that I would handle my fulfillment in order to maximize my profits. The current culture at Mill City Press is greedier than before.

In the same way, Mill City Press expects the Better Business Bureau to just 'take their word for it.' When crimes happen, the legal system looks for multiple eye witnesses as evidence with merit. In the same likeness, here you are presented with two different accounts of Mill City Press taking advantage of people who spend their hard earned money in self-publishing pursuits. What lends further credibility to my complaint with Mill City Press and Mr. ******* is that my legal counsel in California believes we have merit and standing for a case in Minnesota court.

MILL CITY PRESS (Stated by Mr. ******* to my attorney)

"Option 3 - Litigation in Minnesota. If your client decides to pursue litigation per the contract, the litigation will be in Minnesota. If your client decides to opt for that route, either you or your client's Minnesota counsel can contact our corporate attorney, **************** at******************* in Minneapolis. *** can be reached at ********************** or ************. He will also accept service on our behalf. Please let me know how you'd like to proceed. Sincerely, **** *******."

The only reason I have not litigated at this time is because my attorney in California is not registered in the state of Minnesota. Therefore, I would have to retain an attorney native to Minnesota. I have not yet selected an attorney in Minnesota. Further, my attorney in California explained that the dollar amount in dispute for refund is less than the likely amount of travel and attorney fees for litigating in Minnesota. The question stands, is it worth it to litigate in Minnesota simply on principle alone? At this time, filing with the Better Business Bureau is the most economical means of justice however litigation is still an option to me.

Consider, my complaint is not the first against Mill City Press. It is not likely to be the last. What is unique about my complaint is that I have a law firm that believes the language in the original contract affords me a full refund in the amount requested. Also I have evidence to show that Mr. ******* attempted to silence any negative review of their company and services as shown in #11 of the 'Settlement Agreement' I was offered. It is available upon request.

In conclusion, Mr. ******* knows that Mill City Press took thousands of dollars from me and did not execute services for the money they took. As expressed by the law firm ************************, "you the author only agreed to the Book Publishing Agreement, and that Agreement does not prohibit you from receiving a refund for services never rendered by MCP." Additionally, the language Mr. ******* used about me in his previous response is clearly subterfuge; his hope to hide Mill City Press's business practices. Any court will see the merit in this complaint as does the law firm ************************. This is a common sense issue. No upstanding legitimate company would take money from a customer in exchange for services and never execute those services, then try to maneuver the customer into a legally binding new contract in which they (the company) would acquire a backdoor royalty. In the realm of reasonable professional thinking people, companies who operate in this way are crooks. I respectfully request that the Better Business Bureau make this complaint public to protect all future consumers from Mill City Press and to hold them to

Final Business Response
***response has been scanned in and converted to text below (full version is available using the online complaint system).

Thank you for acknowledging that we've devoted valuable time responding to this matter. The reality is, this customer made a deal with us and we provided services in good faith, including but not limited to: a complete read-through of the manuscript, a detailed written review, interior formatting, editing of the entire manuscript, cover design, rounds or revisions on those designs, and responding to him the 119 times he logged into our system. Then the customer disappears for 19 months and when he comes back he decides he won't allow us to continue to provide the services, and then he files a complaint saying we wouldn't provide the services. So, after getting 95 yards down the proverbial field and long past any time when a refund would be available, the customer says we didn't complete the services and when we tell him we need him to approve his book files so we can complete the last few steps to publication, he refuses to do so and then claims we won't provide him the services. We have lived up to our end of the bargain and continue to do so.

It's impossible for us to provide services to someone who won't let us.

The response by the customer shows that once confronted with the facts, the customer ignores them and makes arguments that have such little basis and/or have no connection to the matter at hand that they are nearly impossible to respond to.

We did not have a verbal agreement with the customer in 2009 or at any other time. It's been established by the customer, us and the customer's attorney, that a contract existed. Further, a customer cannot order any of our services without agreeing to the terms prior to processing payment. Our system won't allow someone to set up an account without first paying. And without an account, a customer could not be engaging in design, editing, using the message center, etc. Should the BBB desire to send a programming forensics expert to review our code, we are open to that. We simply do not allow people to use our services (in this case for years) without agreeing to the terms of service. As demonstrated in our last response, this customer logged into our system more than 119 times and during those times we performed editing, formatting, design, and other services over a period of years. Plus, the contract terms of every service he paid for were available for his review, each of those 119 times he logged into our system over the past four years (now nearly five). After acknowledging the contract and performing under it, to now say it was an oral agreement is simply not factual.

Once we provided a copy of the contract terms to the customer's attorney, within a matter of days, our settlement offer of $498 was accepted by the customer's attorney on his behalf. While the customer's latest response now attempts to raise the issue of a verbal contract, it is puzzling that neither the customer nor his attorney ever raised that as an issue in all of the correspondence with the customer or his lawyer until now.

This customer continues to make claims that we were trying to silence him. He knows this is not true. As stated before, the customer hired a lawyer, which then required us to engage one. Our lawyer sent us a standard settlement agreement which we forwarded on to the customer. The customer objected to one sentence which contained a mutual confidentiality clause, which we then agreed to remove. So, his continuing to say otherwise is simply not supported by the actual facts and documents. In fact, our last response to the BBB demonstrated that we agreed to the exact settlement terms he wanted and by agreeing to the customer's version of the settlement agreement (which we did - See exhibit A-1 of our previous submission, and the emails between our COO and the customer's lawyer in the body of the last response), we understood and expected that the customer would very well do what he is doing right now with the BBB.

The customer is correct that he could take as long as he wanted to go through the process, although this is not an issue, since the minute he logged in after his long absence we attempted to help him complete the last few steps of the publication. We assisted him to revive the process and he can long in now and complete it.

In his latest response, the customer claims that we would be taking a fee of $1.50 for books he sold. There is no issue here as this term was part of the contract he agreed to in 2009 and remains the same today. However, we will explain. The customer may be confusing distribution and fulfillment in his response. Distribution covers sales to the book trade through wholesalers and third-party retailers like or Barnes & Noble. Yes, those resellers take fees when books are sold. It is covered in the terms for Expanded Distribution (Exhibit E of our previous response) that he agreed to in 2009. The fulfillment service that he agreed to in 2009 (See - "Website Order Fulfillment - Exhibit G of our prior submission) does have a fee of $1.50 per book, but the fee is only incurred IF the customer has books at our third-party warehouse and a book was sold directly to a consumer through the sales page created for the book, as the book has to be packed and picked by the warehouse. That fee (which is just passed along from our third-party warehouse is set forth in Section IV (c) (iii) of Exhibit G). The customer could have reviewed those terms any of the 119 times he logged into our system. Had he, he would have seen that the $1.50 pick and pack fee for website orders through the warehouse have not changed in five years.

As for fulfillment, whether 2009 or 2014 or whether we are discussing distribution of fulfillment, the customer is able to sell his book on his own at all times and without having to pay retailer trade discounts or warehousing/freight fees (so long as the sales made by the customer are from his own personal inventory of the book). In fact, Section 2(a) of the publishing contract (attached in our first response as Exhibit B) clearly states that the customer provides us a non-exclusive license to publish, print, and distribute the book. Meaning that since it's non-exclusive, the customer is free to sell the book where he wants in addition to anywhere that he has contracted with us to sell the book. That was in our contract in 2009 and remains in the contract today. So, this customer could take a copy of his book walk into a bookstore, a speaking engagement, set up his own website and sell books separate from the order page we set up and sell copies WITHOUT ever having to pay us or any distributor or warehouse we use a fee.

At no time was the customer told he needed to sign a new contract for anything. The contract he signed in 2009 would be the one to govern the relationship in terms of fees, etc. Because we use a different backend system than we did in 2009, we ask that customers who had last been active in our old system, but are now moving over to our new system, acknowledge that some parts of the process have changed and we ask if they would like to upgrade to the newer services, but at $0 cost to them. For example, when this customer signed up, we only offered a PDF version of the customer's book. We now offer full ebook conversion in formats for tablets and ereading devices and tablets. If a customer upgrades, we give them a $99 credit toward our new ebook service or anything else they may need of want (in this case additional cover design services he wanted). The customer himself acknowledged this in an email to our author coordinator on 9/10/2013 (copy of email available in online version of response).

The customer by his own words acknowledges that all he needed to approve was the upgrade to our system for which he wasn't going to be charged any money. Further, he acknowledges that the $99 for the service we no longer offer was going to be credited toward other services he wanted.

The customer's true motivation here is most evident in his inserting language from a meritless claim filed with the BBB on 6/6/12. The customer took the misleading inflammatory language from an old complaint, hoping that the BBB would not review its own conclusion of that matter. The BBB was clear in its determination that the claim had no merit, stating, "Complaint Resolution: BBB determined the company provided proper verification that indicated there was no obligation to resolve the issues of the complaint."

This case is the same. Under the contract the customer agreed to and work performed, he was owed no refund. Again, the only reason we cannot complete the last few items is because the customer refuses to allow us to. However, we continue to make that offer outstanding, so that once the customer approves his files we can move to the next phase of the publishing process. Publishing his book with us does not prohibit him from selling his book anywhere else he wants. By selling on his own, his only expense is printing books. He would never pay a fee to our warehouse for a book not sold through that warehouse. In fact, even if he publishes with us, the customer can take his files and print and distribute books elsewhere as well. We have not requested the customer pay anything more than he originally paid in order to continue the publishing process.

Because the customer cannot rely on the actual facts here, he brings up irrelevant matters (like the old BBB filing that the BBB resolved in our favor) to paint us in a false light. Another example is that he claims that we refuse to give him his files. We have had them on a CD on our author coordinator's desk since October 25, 2013 when we placed them on the CD in anticipation of moving forward with the settlement agreement. Attached as Exhibit A-12-26-13 is a print out of the menu from that CD and the CD case cover. As you can see, the files were put on the CD at 11:13 a.m. on October 25, 2013. Per the contract he agreed to, he can get them back at any time(whether he's a current customer or former customer) by simply informing us in writing and instructing us where to send them. To date he has not done so. He is welcome to do it through this forum, through his attorney or in our Author Center.

Another attempt by the customer to paint us in a false light is his statement that the "numbers" in our response are incorrect. This tactic speaks for itself, but given the customer's other false disparaging claims, it must be addressed. In our first response to the complaint, we attached the settlement agreement which clearly had $498 in it (See Exhibit A-1 from first response). But, when discussing it in the body of the response we used the phrasing of "nearly $500". We are confident that the BBB understood that this was simply phrasing and that $498 and "nearly $500" are essentially the same thing.

Again, our company attempted to provide (and continues to attempt to provide) the services at issue and when the customer refused, we offered the customer $498.00 even though contractually, we were not obligated to.

Our original offers of completing the publishing process or receiving $498 still remain open.

Industry Comparison| Chart

Publishers - Book, Books - Wholesale, Marketing Programs & Services, Printers, Bookbinders

Additional Information

BBB file opened: 12/18/2009Business started: 07/01/1997
Contact Information
Principal: Mark Traynor (COO) Megan Sellheim (Director of Operations)
Business Category

Publishers - Book, Books - Wholesale, Marketing Programs & Services, Printers, Bookbinders

Products & Services

According to information provided by the business, Hillcrest Media Group offers book formatting, book editing, book cover design, ebook conversion, book distribution, book printing, book marketing.

Hours of Operation
Mon: 09:00 AM to 05:00 PMTue: 09:00 AM to 05:00 PMWed: 09:00 AM to 05:00 PMThu: 09:00 AM to 05:00 PMFri: 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM
Refund and Exchange Policy

Each website has its own refund policy. Consumers should review the terms of any of our websites they are using.

Alternate Business Names,, Mill City Press Inc,, Hillcrest Publishing Group Inc,
BBB Program Participation
This company has agreed to use special procedures including arbitration, if necessary, to resolve disputes through their participation in the following programs: BBB Identification, BBBOnLine.

If you choose to do business with Hillcrest Media Group, Inc., please let them know that you contacted BBB for a Business Review.

Map & Directions

Map & Directions

Address for Hillcrest Media Group, Inc.

322 1st Ave N Ste 500

Minneapolis, MN 55401-1618

To | From


2 Locations

  • 212 3rd Ave N Ste 290 

    Minneapolis, MN 55401-1441(888) 645-5248
    (612) 455-2293

  • 322 1st Ave N Ste 500 

    Minneapolis, MN 55401-1618(612) 455-2293
    (612) 436-3954
    Fax: (612) 455-2297
    Fax: (612) 455-2297

Industry Comparison ChartX

The information in the table below represents an industry comparison of businesses which are of the same relative size. This is based on BBB's database of businesses located in Minnesota and North Dakota. Businesses may engage in more than one type of business. The percent of time the business engages in a type of business is not accounted for. There is no known industry standard for the number of complaints a business can expect. The volume of business and number of transactions may have a bearing on the number of complaints received by BBB.

*Hillcrest Media Group, Inc. is in this range.


Types of Complaints Handled by BBB

BBB handles the following types of complaints between businesses and their customers so long as they are not, or have not been, litigated:

  • Advertising or Sales
  • Billing or Collection
  • Problems with Products or Services
  • Delivery
  • Guarantee or Warranty

We do not handle workplace disputes, discrimination claims or claims about the quality of health or legal services.


Additional Phone Numbers

  • (612) 436-3954

Additional Email Addresses


BBB Complaint Process

Your complaint will be forwarded to the company within two business days. The company will be asked to respond within 10 days, and if a response is not received, a second request will be made. You will be notified of the company's response when we receive it (or notified that we received no response). Complaints are usually closed within 30 business days.


Industry Tips for Publishers - Book


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BBB Customer Review Rating plus BBB Rating Overview

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Customer Review Experience Value
Positive Review 5 points per review
Neutral Review 3 points per review
Negative Review 1 point per review

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BBB Letter Grade Scale

BBB Rating Value
A+ 5
A 4.66
A- 4.33
B+ 4
B 3.66
B- 3.33
C+ 3
C 2.66
C- 2.33
D+ 2
D 1.66
D- 1.33
F 1
NR -----
Star Rating scale

  Average Score
5 stars 5.00
4.5 stars 4.50-4.99
4 stars 4.00-4.49
3.5 stars 3.50-3.99
3 stars 3.00-3.49
2.5 stars 2.50-2.99
2 stars 2.00-2.49
1.5 stars 1.50-1.99
1 star 0-1.49

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