Parents of college-bound students around the U.S. are complaining to BBB that they’re being misled by one college admissions test preparation business. Not only are there scores of complaints about telephone sales by Student Services, Inc., 4343 Sigma Rd., Dallas, but also BBB files show that the CEO was an owner in two other businesses that generated many similar complaints.
In just 12 months since Student Services, Inc., was established, 98 complaints have been closed, and 31 of those complaints are unanswered by the business. An additional 9 complaints are pending. Student Services, Inc., has a BBB rating of F, the lowest rating possible, due to the complaint record.
Complaints from across the country allege that telemarketers for Student Services, Inc., call parents and misrepresent that students want to buy test prep CDs at $142.99 plus shipping, with a monthly Online Scholarship and Grant Assistance service at $24.95 a month. Parents say that after approving the purchase, they learn that students haven’t asked for the materials. According to complaints, the return policy is complicated and confusing, and parents aren’t able to get refunds.
“The BBB cautions parents to check out any offers for college test prep materials or scholarship and grant information services,” said Jeannette Kopko, spokesperson for the BBB serving Dallas and Northeast Texas. “One business name might sound like another. Make sure you know who you’re dealing with, and check out businesses with the BBB. Determine whether materials would be helpful to your child, and look into community resources at your child’s school and the local library.”
The CEO of Student Services, Inc., Frances Stuart, was an owner of two businesses that also earned F ratings with the BBB:
• The SAT and ACT Prep Center, Coppell, TX, was the subject of 126 complaints, with 89 unanswered. Following a lawsuit by the Texas Attorney General’s office, The SAT and ACT Prep Center signed an Agreed Final Judgment in October, 2010. The business agreed to pay restitution and attorneys fees, and to refrain from certain misrepresentations. For more details on the Agreed Final Judgment, see https://www.oag.state.tx.us/oagnews/release.php?id=3499
• The Student Resource Center, LLC, Dallas, TX, was named in 16 complaints, with 14 unanswered.
One father from Sharon, MA, complained on Student Services, Inc.: “They sold us the product under false pretenses. They told me over the phone when I asked how they got my child’s name that she had requested the product through her school. Nothing could be further from the truth. My child knew nothing about the product or the company …”
He said that trying to get a refund was challenging: “My wife has called any number of times to get a ‘Return Authorization Number’ but was placed on hold and hung up on. The company, of course, has our money and has absolutely no incentive to satisfy this customer.”
Student Services, Inc., offers some customers a “hardship price” of $43.99. The business stated in response to one complaint from Logan, UT: “We in turn gave him the option of returning the product or keeping the product for 43.99. That is the Hardship cost. We offer this price if the consumer can’t afford the full purchase price.”
A mother in Bellevue, WA, said the sales pitch from Student Services, Inc., implied that the offer was from another business. “I can’t tell you exactly the words they used, but it implied that they got my daughter’s information from the PSAT’s that she took, or some SAT material that she filled out and that she wanted information about how to be better prepared for the exams. (What student isn’t going to mark that box?) Anyway, I assumed that this company had something to do with College Board who handles the SATs. I opened them recently and found that they had nothing to do with the College Board company that does the SAT’s.”
Student Services, Inc., states on its website: “Nationally Recognized Nonprofit Organization.” The status of the business is unclear. The business has registered as a non-profit corporation in Texas. However, it’s unknown whether Student Services, Inc., has applied for federal tax-exempt status as a non-profit organization, or which type of non-profit organization. Not all non-profit organizations are charities – there are other types of non-profit organizations.
BBB accepts customer complaints and sends complaints to the business for a reply. Then BBB checks with the customer to see if the matter is resolved. Complaints are closed as resolved, unresolved, or unanswered. BBB Business Reviews on businesses include complaints closed during the last 36 months, the BBB’s standard reporting period. BBB processes complaints on both BBB Accredited Businesses and non-accredited businesses.