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I-Team: College Students Say Local Textbook Company Is A ‘Scam’

By I-Team Correspondent Lauren Leamanczyk
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WBZ-TV's Lauren Leamanczyk Lauren Leamanczyk
Lauren Leamanczyk is an I-Team Correspondent for WBZ-TV News and is...
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BOSTON (CBS) – With college textbook prices sometimes hitting the $200 and $300 mark per book, it’s no wonder students want to recoup some of their cash.

That’s what was on UMass student Robbie Leonard’s mind when he went online and found Valore books. He went through the online process to sell them some of his used textbooks.

“I started looking and found the best price and so I thought I would go through there,” he said.

iTeamSmallBugLayerThe Boston-based used book dealer offered Robbie twice as much as other online competitors for his used books. He sent in his textbooks and expected a check.

This was in December. Weeks later, he had received no money.

“I called them multiple times. I talked to a customer service rep. He actually hung up on me once,” Leonard said.

Robbie emailed again and again. No check and no response. He even asked if he could come to the Boston office and get his books back. Valore said that wasn’t possible.

“They are on our radar as one of the most complained about businesses in our territory,” says Paula Fleming of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern Massachusetts.

The Better Business Bureau has received nearly 700 complaints about Valore books from all across the country, many of them similar to Robbie’s.

And there are even more unhappy customers in hundreds of online reviews on sites like Ripoff Report, students call Valore books a scam, saying “this was a total ripoff” and “they steal your books”.

“We’re talking about college students, is that an easily targeted demographic?,” asked WBZ’s I-Team.

“Students are one of the highly targeted demographics. Senior citizens and the younger population because people believe them to be more naïve,” said Fleming.

Valore Books is headquartered on Summer Street in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood. We asked them to sit down and answer our questions. Instead Valore Books sent us a statement, reading in part, “Our competitive sellback prices created greater than expected demand this spring, which unfortunately led to some payment and customer service delays.”

“Customer satisfaction is a top priority at ValoreBooks. We strive to provide our customers with the lowest prices on their textbook purchases and rentals, and the best prices when they sell their books back. We process thousands of textbook payments every month and work tirelessly to make sure our customers are paid in a timely manner. We remain committed to issuing payment to our customers within 14 business days of their textbook being received and processed” the statement read.

“Our competitive sellback prices created greater than expected demand this spring, which unfortunately led to some payment and customer service delays in our process. However, all customers have been made whole by either receiving payment or having their item returned to them. When we have been unable to return an item to a customer who has requested it, we have issued payment as a goodwill offer. To date in 2014, inquiries to the Better Business Bureau have represented fewer than .1% of all sellback orders on our site, and while a very small percentage, we treat every one of them very seriously and have resolved each in a timely manner.

We know that college is expensive and we are unwavering in our commitment to help make it more affordable for students.”

Valore claims they have now either paid everyone or returned their books. The BBB has no proof that that statement is true or false.

After working through the BBB and threatening legal action, Robbie finally got his money six months later.

“Would you ever sell books to Valore again?” asked the I-Team? “No. Never. I will never buy from them and I will never sell to them or rent from them ever again.”

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