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BBB Accredited Business since 10/01/1961

Southwestern Advantage

(615) 391-2801View Additional Phone Numbers2451 Atrium Way, NashvilleTN 37214 Send email to Southwestern Advantage

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Southwestern Advantage is a direct seller and publisher of educational and reference products including books, CD-ROMs and a subscription-based website. Southwestern is America's oldest direct selling company, established in 1855 in Nashville, Tennessee. Since 1868, Southwestern has helped college students run their own business to offset their educational expenses. Students from over 300 colleges and universities in North and South America and Europe participate, many earning college credit hours as an internship opportunity.

Between 2,500 and 3,000 students participate in marketing and selling books and software each summer. The student representatives have over 4 million personal interactions with families and customers each summer all over the United States and Canada. When reviewing complaint information as outlined in the "Customer Complaints Summary" below, please take into consideration the company's volume of door-to-door transactions in relation to the number of complaints filed with BBB.

BBB Accreditation

A BBB Accredited Business since 10/01/1961

BBB has determined that Southwestern Advantage 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 Southwestern Advantage's rating include:

  • Length of time business has been operating.
  • Complaint volume filed with BBB for business of this size.
  • Response to 146 complaint(s) filed against business.
  • Resolution of complaint(s) filed against business.

Customer Complaints SummaryRead complaint details

146 complaints closed with BBB in last 3 years | 32 closed in last 12 months
Complaint TypeTotal Closed Complaints
Advertising / Sales Issues22
Billing / Collection Issues52
Delivery Issues9
Guarantee / Warranty Issues2
Problems with Product / Service61
Total Closed Complaints 146

Customer Reviews Summary Read customer reviews

52 Customer Reviews Customer Reviews on Southwestern Advantage

Customer Experience Total Customer Reviews
Positive Experience 33
Neutral Experience 1
Negative Experience 18
Total Customer Reviews 52 Customer Reviews

Additional Information


Students are interviewed and recruited by Southwestern Sales Leaders and local student leaders during the fall and spring. If selected for the program, the students may begin initial training to know what to expect, and informal product training. Students, although legally classified as adults, are endorsed into the program by their parents through a parental support letter.

The students attend a five-day training course in Nashville that covers business management, product knowledge, sales presentations, success principles, safety and ethics among other things critical to running a successful business. Similar to other direct selling companies students are independent contractors, NOT employees of Southwestern Advantage. After training they are provided a suggested sales area in which to work. They typically live with a host family and 1 to 3 other student representatives of the same gender. Housing is not guaranteed, but students receive training and advice from the company. Housing is part of the set up of their business. Many host families do house year-to-year and consist of both alumni and non-alumni. Students are financially responsible for the lodging, food and travel expenses during the training and summer time.

Southwestern Advantage suggests students bring approximately $500 with them to sales training. The total expenses incurred throughout the summer vary according to the individual, but range from $1,500 to $3,000. Students generally pay their expenses from down payments collected from sales of product and remit the rest to the company where it is recorded on their company account to cover the wholesale cost of the products.

The most successful student dealers work a rigorous schedule of 72 or more hours a week, Monday through Saturday, typically 8 am to 9 pm. The students talk to families in their homes through cold calls and referrals. Although students work independently during the day, a student leader is close by to mentor, support, answer questions and even follow or be followed to offer advice from his/her previous experience. Student leaders meet with the students each Sunday and someone from Southwestern calls each host home at night to collect stats for inventory and make sure the students returned safely.

There are no sales quotas set by Southwestern Advantage, as the representative is an independent contractor. At the end of the summer, students deliver the product to their customers, collect the balances due and return to Nashville to reconcile their accounts. They remit the remaining money, return left over product for full credit, and receive a check for their credit balance.

By Federal law, customers who purchase Southwestern Advantage products from the student representatives have three days from the date of purchase to cancel their order. Saturday is included by Federal law as a business day. Southwestern Advantage is a third party to the contract between the students and customer and can only act on the student's behalf within the three-day cooling off period.

After ordering products, be sure to keep the sales receipt given to you by the student. It is a contract with the student of your intentions to purchase the product. If in the event you do not receive the product you ordered, Southwestern Advantage will guarantee delivery if you have a valid receipt. Call the Southwestern Advantage Customer Contact Center at 888-551-5901 or e-mail at

BBB file opened: 10/01/1961Business started: 01/01/1855
Contact Information
Principal: Mr. Trey Campbell (Director of Communications)Mr. Dan Moore (President)
Business Category

Publishers - Book, Sales Training, Sales Presentations, Direct Sales, Sales Organizations

Alternate Business Names

Customer Review Rating plus BBB Rating Summary

Southwestern Advantage has received 4.5 out of 5 stars based on 52 Customer Reviews and a BBB Rating of A+.

BBB Customer Review Rating plus BBB Rating Overview