The Video Professor, who you may have had the privilege of seeing inlate night infomercials, hasn't been thrilled with online criticism of his billing methods. In fact, he has sued infomercialscams.com, seeking to learn the identities of those who have "defamed" his company online. Now, a California law firm plans to turn the tables on the good doctor.
Nassiri & Jung has launched vplitigation.com to respond to Video Professor's attacks on critics. The firm is trying to find some California residents who will be the targets of Video Professor's legal action, assuming that VP does get access to the identity information it wants.
The lawyers are "seeking out defendants in the Video Professor suit" and are interested in "possibly representing one or more of those defendants free of charge." But wait, there's more!
The firm is also looking into complaints about the company's billing practices, which that have dogged the company for years. Video Professor has been the subject of 615 Better Business Bureau complaints over the last 36 months, though it does appear that such complaints are quickly addressed.
Nassiri & Jung's web site notes that VP has already settled a 2004 class action suit in California relating to alleged "sales and marketing misconduct," and it sounds like the firm's lawyers might be prepping another, similar case.
Committed to customer satisfaction
John Scherer, the Video Professor himself, has taken to his blog recently to swat down allegations that he is attempting to trample on the right to anonymous speech in criticism. Here's how he describes what his company is doing:
"A number of people have gone to web sites and anonymously posted less-than-flattering statements about their experiences with Video Professor. I am simply trying to learn who these individuals are so that I can fix the problems they have had with my company. I am committed to satisfying my customers and I will go to great lengths to make them happy, as we always have. However, I can't help them if I don't know who they are."
That's certainly an unusual level of dedication to customer service; few companies file suit against customers they want to help. Ah, but Scherer's not done. Perhaps these customers that he so badly wants to help are not, in fact, customers at all.
"If the posters are truly unhappy customers, I want to find out what made them unhappy," he writes. "Maybe they aren't customers? If so, I am committed to stopping them from writing false and damaging statements about my company for their own financial gain."
Public Citizen, which is representing the man behind infomercialscams.com, said in a statement sent to Ars that it has learned "from former employees, and other sources, that Video Professor deliberately makes its exchanges with consumers confusing so that it can claim to have authorization for signing them up." The group has requested a raft of documents from Video Professor in support of this claim, so the VP lawsuit about defamation looks set to open up the whole can of worms aboutmarketing tactics that has dogged the company for so long.
Infomercialscams, though it has not agreed to turn over the information on its anonymous posters, has sent those posters a letter notifying them that they are targets of the VP lawsuit.