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45 counties of Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky

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Consumer Complaints

BBB Accredited Business since 10/01/1961

Southwestern Advantage

Phone: (615) 391-2801

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Customer Complaints Summary

286 complaints closed with BBB in last 3 years | 65 closed in last 12 months
Complaint TypeTotal Closed Complaints
Advertising / Sales Issues35
Billing / Collection Issues119
Delivery Issues33
Guarantee / Warranty Issues1
Problems with Product / Service98
Total Closed Complaints286

Complaint Breakdown by ResolutionAbout Complaint Details

Complaint Resolution Log (286)BBB Closure Definitions
09/29/2014Advertising / Sales Issues | Read Complaint Details
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Additional Notes

Complaint Category: Sales presentation used dishonest sales practices

Complaint: Debit Charges in the amount of $19.95/month for 36 months that were not authorized by me.

Debit Charges in the amount of $19.95/month for 36 months that were not authorized by me.
I bought books from a door to door sales person in Aug of 2011 by writing a check from my bank acct. I was unaware that the company was deducting $19.95 a month from my bank acct since Aug 2011 until I noticed it Sept 18,2014. I immediately notified the company whom in return states I signed an agreement. All I ever authorized in a signature was the receipt of the purchase of the books. I think this was done in a way that was very deceitful. The lady did say that 6 months is all they could refund.

Initial Business Response
The contract between the independent student dealer and the consumer is a signed and does contain information about the online product. The information we were provided from the student dealer was that the consumer had purchased the products and the online, subscription product was part of the package. We will refund the consumer.

Initial Consumer Rebuttal
(The consumer indicated he/she ACCEPTED the response from the business.)
I will be satisfied when I receive a full refund.

Complaint Resolution: Company resolved the complaint issues. The consumer acknowledged acceptance to BBB.

09/26/2014Problems with Product / Service | Read Complaint Details
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Additional Notes

Complaint Category: None of the Above - Contract Complaint Issue

Complaint: Never informed of 3-day cancellation policy nor did I pay attention on the receipt that was provided to me. Only asked to complete the the top part.
On 07/28/2014 the student/intern ********* ***** came to my home and persuaded me into purchasing Math-SW Advantage and the MY Set. At the time it was interesting because I wanted my girls to get extra assistance in their education. So I ordered the materials. (my order # is **** I was only asked to complete the top part of the order form (remittance # XXXXXXXX, account # XXXXXXXX, Price $365.90, total amount $411.29) that included my debit card information and my signature and the bottom part was covered up with a piece of paper that she was using for her notes. The bottom part is where the student intern completed the payment schedule and the remaining of the payment information. The bottom also showed the cancellation policy. She never showed that to me and she never mentioned it to me. I am set up on a payment plan in which I am not able to follow-thru with because of financial reasons. I am not able to receive the materials until all payments have been made.However, there should be no reason why I can not cancel my order because I don't have the materials. When I contact customer service to cancel the order they tell me that I can not cancel because of the 3 day policy and I have no books. I was informed by ****** that I would have to get in contact with the student/intern to find out about canceling or if I can cancel. They are not even able to cancel the remaining payments that are scheduled to be debited and again I have no books. The customer service number is a waste of time because they are not the ones who can take care of matters like this. You are not even provided with contact information for the student/intern. The service and the way things are being handled ought to be against the law especially if the customer has not received any of the books or materials.

Initial Business Response
The consumer contacted our office after the Federal three-day cooling off period. In all sales completed by the independent student dealer, the contract between the consumer and the dealer is done so together, and the agreed upon terms are listed (for payment). The contract was signed stating the consumer would agree to purchase the products based on the set up payment plan and, once paid for in full, the products would be shipped to the consumer. The contract also contained the information regarding cancellation policy. Four attempts by the student to charge the consumer were declined. The student in this case has abided by the contract to this point. We have reached out to the student dealer to seek a resolution for the consumer.

Initial Consumer Rebuttal
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
I do not accept this response because my signature was for authorization of using my debit card on specific dates (which was not done) and it was not to accept the Cancellation policy which was all the way at the bottom of the page.The student never explained to me the cancellation period nor did she show me the back of the carbon copy. She had that complete section covered with a piece of paper. If she would have brought that to my attention (being that its important), then I wouldn't be going thru this with the company. And the student has not contacted me nor is she in the United States. When I met with her she stated that she was going back to Poland. There has not been a response back from the student.

Final Business Response
There seems to be a misperception here regarding the contract. The signature covers everything on it rather than parts of it. According to the contract, $205.63 was to be charged on 9/5 and $205.65 on 9/19. Looking at the history of charges, the student attempted a charge on 9/5 three times, then once on 9/8 - all declined. The charge that went through was on 9/15. This was a different date, but the money was not available at the time the charge was to be run. A refund will be provided to the consumer at the discretion of the student dealer with who the contract was entered. In hearing back, this was granted.

Final Consumer Response
(The consumer indicated he/she ACCEPTED the response from the business.)
I do accept the resolution and I have received a refund back after disputing with my bank. The refund was received 2 days prior to receiving this message. This is a well lesson learned for me and I am sure for others. I will make sure that before I sign anything I read all notes, pictures, etc on a document. This will not happen again. Thank you

Complaint Resolution: Company resolved the complaint issues. The consumer acknowledged acceptance to BBB.

09/16/2014Billing / Collection Issues | Read Complaint Details
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Additional Notes

Complaint Category: Unauthorized bank debits

Complaint: I called and cancelled with rep. Got charged 2 months later customer service rep never returned calls and placed me on hold when I asked for superviso
I called customer service to cancel before any payment was taken out. Told to contact rep. I did and he said fine. Two months later payment suddenly was taken. Called customer service and was told they had to contact ***** the representative. Would call me back within 72 hours. Never got called back. I called and they said ***** wasn't answering any of their contact. Was told I'd be called back. They never did so I called again. Spoke with the same woman who told me the rep quit the program early and left the us and had no idea what was going on. Then she told me that he was already back in the United States. I asked for a supervisor, she told me she was busy and couldn't be bothered and shouldn't expect a call back as this is their busy month. Then placed on hold and no one came back on. All I want is my 90.28 back and them not to take anymore out as I am not getting the books. Also it was rediculous to get told I'd repeatedly receive a call back then have the customer service rep place me on hold then ignore me. Her name was ****** I think every time I called

Initial Business Response
The consumer contacted our company outside of the Federal three-day cancellation period. The independent student dealer was left an alert in our system to contact the consumer. The consumer stated she had an emergency and later called to say she had spoken to the dealer and cancelled the order. The dealer has run the payments as scheduled in agreement with the signed contract. Four attempts were declined, the fifth went through. We have spoken with the dealer and he has agreed to a refund.

Initial Consumer Rebuttal
(The consumer indicated he/she ACCEPTED the response from the business.)


Complaint Resolution: Company resolved the complaint issues. The consumer acknowledged acceptance to BBB.

09/12/2014Problems with Product / Service | Read Complaint Details
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Additional Notes

Complaint: The books not as described, very disappointed. The rep said I could return if I didn't like. Called and was told no refunds! What???????
Sweet girl came to door...very persistent. I don't like to buy things at the door but she gave me a big sob story. I agreed to purchase two medical info books. I gave her a check with HER name on it, ********** ****** (not too sure of spelling, I'm looking at carbon copy of check book). She did not use the check but took it and processed the payment automatically. Now...where is that check? My routing and acct #floating around out there. Then I receive the books, very disappointing, like written for a child. Book titles being #XXXXXXX health and wellness p/c. I called X-XXX-XXX-XXXX and was told no refund policy!!! NOT what the young girl told me! I paid $92.27 for 2 books! I fell for it and I feel stupid. I feel like I got swindled all the way around! I simply want to send them back and get a refund, I will even pay to send them back.

Thank you for taking my complaint. I hope to see some sort of settlement from them.

***** ******

Initial Business Response
The refund policy is printed on the receipt and adheres to the Federal 3-day cooling off period. The student who entered into the contract with the consumer is an independent dealer selling the products our company publishes.

It is common for the students to either have the check made in their name or run it automatically using the routing numbers.

The Health & Wellness Books sold by our company are published by Time Life. The information is put together by nearly 60 experts in the medical field. The product is, in fact, written for adults at an adult level. Entering a contract to purchase two books, paying for them and receiving them is hardly "getting swindled." The young lady fulfilled her end of the contract. We will have a representative from our company contact the consumer.


Complaint Resolution: Company addressed the complaint issues. The consumer failed to acknowledge acceptance to BBB.

09/11/2014Billing / Collection Issues | Read Complaint Details
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Additional Notes

Complaint Category: Unauthorized bank debits

Complaint: Debit Charges in the amount of $19.95/month for 48 months that were not authorized by me.
I bought books from a door to door sales person in 2011 by writing a check from my bank acct. I was unaware that the company was deducting $19.95 a month from my bank acct since 2011 until I noticed it in Jul 2014. I immediately notified the company whom in return states I signed an agreement. All I ever authorized in a signature was the receipt of the purchase of the books. I think this was done in a way that was deceitful. I have read other reviews online re this company and many others have stated the same event with this company.

Initial Business Response
The consumer had contacted our company and this has been addressed by cancellation and refund.

Initial Consumer Rebuttal
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
I only agree if the comapny refunds the amount desired. They have stated that the electronic draw has been cancelled but to date I have not received a refund.

Final Consumer Response
Just wanted to let you know that I received a full refund by check yesterday in my mail. Thank you so much for your help with this matter.

Complaint Resolution: Company resolved the complaint issues. The consumer acknowledged acceptance to BBB.

Page 1 of 53
11/08/2013Problems with Product / Service
11/06/2013Problems with Product / Service
09/11/2012Problems with Product / Service
08/07/2012Advertising / Sales Issues
09/18/2014Advertising / Sales Issues | Read Complaint Details
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Additional Notes

Complaint Category: None of the Above - Sales Complaint Issue

Complaint: ******* ***** (XXXXXXXX) notified me on 7/4/14 that he lost my check and stated he would pay the stop payment fee. It has not been paid to me yet.
The remittance number for the order is XXXXXXXX. I spoke with ****** of Southwestern Advantage on 7/4/14 explaining that ******* ***** (XXXXXXXX) lost my check and would pay for the stop payment fee. I canceled the order with her. She told me that I needed to discuss this with the sales representative. ******* agreed to my terms of payment in the form of a cashier's check mailed to my address. He has not sent the check. He has failed to return multiple phone calls. He was spoken with in August and said he would mail the payment by 9/1/14. It has not been received. He has not responded to phone calls since 9/1/14. The stop payment fee was $35.00. I expect the company or Mr. ***** to pay the stop payment fee ($35.00) for his negligence. I contacted Southwestern Advantage to inform them of this situation again. I was told they had left him a phone message to contact me. I told the representative that this has been tried multiple times and she interrupted my conversation. She did not offer any resolution.

Initial Business Response
We have been in touch with the independent student dealer and the stop payment fee because he lost the check is being issued from his account to the consumer. Since the student and consumer entered into a contract together, our company is a third party to the sale. Until the dealer authorized a refund from his account giving us permission to do so, we are unable to. We apologize for any inconvenience to the end consumer.

Initial Consumer Rebuttal
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
The student dealer is an employee of the company and his actions represent the company. The statement from the company speaks volumes about the lack of concern the company has for the consumer as the consumer in this case had to contact the employee in excess of six times to rectify this over a 2 1/2 month period of time. The company should have contacted their employee immediately on 7/4/14 about the phone call to them and informed the employee that he needed to take the action that he had stated he would take with the consumer. No further purchases will be made from this company and this unsatisfactory experience will be shared with others. It is more costly for a company to recruit new customers than to retain existing customers.

Complaint Resolution: BBB determined that despite the company's reasonable effort to address complaint issues, the consumer remained dissatisfied.

02/25/2014Billing / Collection Issues | Read Complaint Details
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Additional Notes

Complaint Category: Unauthorized credit card charges

Complaint: We specifically declined to purchase the website subscription but the salesperson added it anyway.
In July of 2013, we purchased books from a salesperson. On the sales form, we specifically declined the website membership/subscription. On November 18, 2013, we became aware of a recurring charge on our credit card and attempted to cancel the service. On January 19, 2014 I again attempted to cancel and received the same confirmation number. On February 18, 2014, I again received the same confirmation number when I called to cancel. Each time I was informed that I would be given a refund for the previous month's charge, but it was never given, and the subscription was never cancelled.

Initial Business Response
The consumer contacted our Customer Service Center on Feb. 18, 2014 and cancelled the website. In looking at the contract between the independent student representative and the consumer, it looks like the amount for the books was paid in cash. A credit card number was collected - provided by consumer - and an approval code accepted. To be charged for the website, the consumer had to log on and accept payments. Under the name *******, we have only one record of contact. Someone from our Customer Service Center will contact the consumer about this further.

Final Consumer Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
Without knowledge of how the customer service contact system works, I cannot comment as to why there is no record of my cancellations on XX-X-XX or ******** I received the same confirmation number all three times, and only received a refund when I informed SW Advantage that I would be disputing the charges with my credit card company.

Complaint Resolution: BBB determined that despite the company's reasonable effort to address complaint issues, the consumer remained dissatisfied.

11/22/2013Billing / Collection Issues | Read Complaint Details
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Additional Notes

Complaint Category: None of the Above - Credit, Billing or Collection Complaint Issue

Complaint: I want a refund on products never received.
purchase date 28 august, 2013 remittance number XXXXXXXX price 499.99 plus tax.
I called because we had not yet received their product for the books yet they have continuously have taken money from my husband and I account. I called today for a refund and they tell me that I have one more payment to make and that I can not have a refund on my money. I ask why they did not let me know that there was one payment left, the woman stated that they do not let people know. What kind of business is this that they don't tell you? I think that this was done on purpose so not only do I not get the product but they also get my money and say that I can not have it back. I want my refund of 436.00 immediately. My husband is disabled and I am a full time student, if I knew that this would be a scam I WOULD NOT HAVE AGREED FOR THESE BOOKS I WANTED THESE BOOKS TO HELP MY SON WHO IS STRUGGLING IN SCHOOL. But now I do not have my money or the products.

Initial Business Response
The consumer contacted our company on November 11. This was after the three-day cooling off period. The order date was Aug. 28. As relayed to the consumer, our company is a third party to the sale, which is a contract between the independent student dealer and the consumer. According to the contract, a payment plan was established with the dealer: Aug. 30 for $109, Sept. 3 for $109, Sept. 13 for $109, Sept. 21 for $109 and Sept. 30 for $111.09. Above this is the consumer's signature. In looking at the processing of payment by the student dealer, four payments have been accepted and four have been declined due to insufficient funds. The payment information may differ from consumer to consumer, depending on what works best for their particular financial situation. The payment of the products is solely handled by the student dealer who is running their own business selling the products. The student charges their consumers who have purchased from them according to the details set up at the time of purchase. When the product is paid for in full, the student releases it to be sent to the consumer. The consumer agreed to purchase the product and pay for it, signing the contract. At this time, there is one more payment that has not been collected. The college student who sold the books purchased them from our company and did so in good faith with the understanding the consumer would fulfill their end of the contract.

Final Consumer Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
I have a report as well that does not show any declined actions against my account. I have the account reports since August of 2013. If I can not have a refund I want the entire set that I ordered with no further payment as this has been nothing but a hassle for me and my family. I orginally ordered these for my son and it has been months so of course his grades(which I was guaranteed that these books would help raise) have not seen the positive affects. So I will only accept the offer of the ENTIRE SET I ORDERED WITH NO FURTHER PAYMENTS OR I will make it known not to order from this company because of my issues as well as there are about 200 other. And I will present all evidence to my lawyer. I would like to know what they plan on doing??

Final Business Response
If a consumer does not pay for the whole set of books, is the publisher or the seller to be held responsible for sending the entire set? The college student who a contract was entered into with has paid for the products and has, in good faith, attempted to charge on each date. One payment remains. At this point, the consumer has received everything paid for (the fourth book is not paid for). The information on the declined payments has been sent to the Better Business Bureau. The declined payments are of no difference, as the charges did go through upon second attempts. Whether the bank is able to provide the consumer with records of this or not, this is what has happened when the dealer attempted to charge the consumer.

On 11/18 - three of the four reference books were shipped. We certainly apologize for any inconvenience the consumer has experienced. The independent student dealer's business model is to enter a binding contract of sale with a customer they generate, set up payment options and send the product when paid for. The dealer has agreed to not charge for the remaining product. If the consumer would like the remaining product, they are welcome to finish the contract by calling our Customer Service Department at XXX-XXX-XXXX. Otherwise, this transaction has been closed by the student dealer.

Complaint Resolution: BBB determined that despite the company's reasonable effort to address complaint issues, the consumer remained dissatisfied.

10/03/2013Problems with Product / Service | Read Complaint Details
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Additional Notes

Complaint Category: Failure to honor a contract or agreement

Complaint: The agent never picked up the books in the time frame specified in their contract. Now I am being harassed for the books.
A sales person came to my door and sold me some educational books on 7/5/13. I emailed to cancel the order on the same day at 6:07pm (confirmation number XXXXXXX). The agent did not come and pick up the books within the 20 day period allotted by HIS contract terms. He showed up at my house around 9/1/13 asking for the books. He has returned multiple times after that as well. We have told him that we no longer have the books. I gave them to a friend after the 20 day period since they were not something my children were interested in. My boyfriend told him not to come here anymore, and he has continued to come. I emailed the company about this harassing situation hoping that they would intervene. Their response to me was to tell me that I never told them I had the books so the 20 days period addressed in their contract did not apply. They said it was my responsibility to give them all of the relevant information. They also advised that they sent a return label to send the books back.
I have several points to make on their response: 1. In my cancellation email I said, "Almost any time is convenient for us if you would like to come and get the books." That is clearly telling them that I have their product.
2. I received their letter about the return label after the 20 day period from my cancellation. And there is a part in their contract that nullifies that point.
3. Their contract states, "If you cancel, you must make available to the seller at your residence, in substantially as good condition as when received, any goods delivered to you under this contract or sale: or you may, if you wish, comply with the instructions of the seller regarding the return shipment of the goods at the seller's expense and risk. If you do make the goods available to the seller and the seller does not pick them up within 20 days of the date of your notice of cancellation, you may retain or dispose of the goods without any further obligation."
To point out the relevant points in that quote from THEIR contract: A. "you must make available to the seller AT YOUR RESIDENCE" and "or you MAY, IF YOU WISH, comply with instructions...". Besides the fact that the letter from the company came after the 20 days, I am not required to accept that return method. The seller never asked me if I would be willing to accept that return method instead of the contractually required method of coming to my residence.
B. "...the seller does not PICK THEM UP within 20 days of the date of your notice of cancellation, you may RETAIN OR DISPOSE of the goods WITHOUT ANY FURTHER OBLIGATION."
I am offended by the conduct of the agent and the company's response to this matter. The representative that I have been emailing said things that were untrue, and they have the emails to see that what they said were untrue in regards to saying that I had not told them I had the books. And furthermore, putting the responsibility on myself when it was the failure of the agent to follow up with due diligence. Also, the lack of knowledge of their own contract terms is very unprofessional. The agents harassing actions are unacceptable and the company should take responsibility to some extent to their agents actions.

Initial Business Response
The consumer did contact our Customer Contact Center within the three day cooling off period requesting cancellation. However, we were not made aware she was in possession of the products. It was not mentioned, nor was it marked on the receipt until the student dealer told us at a later time while in communication with him. We did not know to send a pre-paid label or have the dealer come back until the dealer told us they had products. This was not marked on the return receipt.

Since the student dealer who sold her the products is running his own business and is an independent contractor, he is responsible for the products and will take a large loss on this order. He is attempting to obtain the books back so as not to lose hundreds of dollars. A postage-paid label was sent to the consumer as a means to get the products back on 7/23. The dealer communicated with us he had tried to pick up the books in August.

In the last communication with the consumer, it was requested she try to get the products back and send them to our company to credit the student's account. At this time, the consumer is slated to be sent to collections. We will work with the student dealer to find a solution that satisfies all parties.


Final Consumer Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
Yes, I put a stop payment on the check. Payment has never been an issue in this situation. I cancelled the products in the allotted time. I did not have to pay for the products. The issue at hand is that their representative and the company is refusing to uphold their own contract terms that expressly say that I may keep or do with the books what I wish if he does not come and get them within 20 days of cancellation. My original cancellation email advised the company to have their representative come and get the books, but I never heard from him until over a month and a half later.

Final Business Response
Per the receipt sent in, the consumer wrote on it she had put a stop payment on the check. We have not issued a refund because it seems a stop payment was issued, therefore it seems the independent dealer did not receive payment for the books she gave away. Did the check have a stop payment on it or not? Please e-mail this info to *********************@southwestern.com.

Complaint Resolution: BBB determined that despite the company's reasonable effort to address complaint issues, the consumer remained dissatisfied.

01/15/2014Billing / Collection Issues
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