Students say they've been scammed out of money
Wed, 11 Dec 2013 19:09:01 GMT —
Books cost big bucks for college students and now it's time to sell them back. But before you hand them over, make sure you're doing business with a reputable source.
"At the time it seemed pretty legit," former customer Allison Clinton said. "They looked like they knew what they were talking about."
Clinton is one of several students that Western Illinois University officials say got scammed during book buy back week last year.
"It was easier just to give your books right there outside your doorway to this guy instead of walking all the way down to the Union and selling them back," Clinton said.
"They were hiring students to pick up books from other students and then when they asked for payment, many did not get paid," Jude Kiah said.
Jude Kiah, director of the University Bookstore, says the company at fault is DormBooks.com. It's an online book store that was started in 2006. The company hires students as DormBooks.com ambassadors to pick up the books.
"They hire acquaintances of these people which adds this imprimatur of familiarity," Kiah said. "So I'm going to give you my book thinking there's some connection to credibility, but there's not."
So why are students selling to an online company instead of local bookstores?
The university typically buys back books at about half the price of the original cost. DormBooks.com offers the same thing, but it's the second part of the offer that usually seals the deal with students.
That second part rewards students with more money if they agree to delay their payment until January 21. DormBooks.com is then able to sell the books without giving the student money up front. The extra cash is a perk for waiting.
"It was pretty much double the price and who's not going to wait a month and get more money?" Clinton said.
"There is no such thing as a reputable dealer that doesn't give you money upfront," Kiah said.
KHQA spoke with Karol Grzesiak the owner of DormBooks.com. He didn't want to go on camera, but he disputes Kiah's claims. Grzesiak states that the bookstore simply does not like competition.
According to the Better Business Bureau's website, DormBooks.com currently has 16 complaints dealing with sales, delivery and service issues. Some of those complaints went unanswered for almost a year, until recently.
"The university is not in the business of either gouging our students or scamming our students." Kiah said. "There are businesses that are and this is one of them."
Grzesiak states that the company takes full responsibility for its mistakes and urges anyone with a service problem to contact him.
"That was the thing, there wasn't any contact information anywhere except for the website," Clinton said. "There wasn't a phone number or an email or a main contact person to get ahold of."
When Grzesiak was asked about Clinton's claim, he was unable to comment on why she wasn't ever paid. He did say that the almost 200 WIU students that have done business with DormBooks.com have been paid. You can see positive reviews for the company, here.
When Clinton was asked if she has heard of any students that did receive payment from DoormBooks.com, she replied, "No I have not."
Kiah says he's contacted DormBooks.com multiple times asking the company to stop doing business on campus.
University officials are now in the process of sending the online bookstore a cease and desist letter.