Laura McCurdy of Rhode Island wrote to WalletPop about her problem with Textbookwheel.com, a site that markets itself as a place to get cash for old college texts.
She followed the directions and shipped off what she said the site reported as $243 worth of books. She said she shipped the books a couple of weeks ago and then awaited the promised speedy mailing of a check. And waited... Well, she's still waiting. The site still shows her books as having never been received.
"I'm out so many textbooks and no cash," she wrote to WalletPop. "Please help me!!"
McCurdy had no luck getting a response from anyone at Textbookwheel, which has a Northern California phone number, an Arkansas mailing address and on its site claims to be governed under Missouri law. That, combined with a mountain of complaints posted on the Web about the company, alarmed her.
Laura's right. She's not alone. The Better Business Bureau in Little Rock said they're non-too-pleased with how Textbookwheel is responding to its mounting pile of complaints.
"Every business is going to have a customer complaint," Mike Rohrer, director of communications for the Arkansas BBB office, told WalletPop. "It's the manner in which they handle it that is our concern. That they have so many unresolved complaints is a big problem. It's a huge red flag for us."
The company's response to the complaints -- or lack thereof -- rates the business an F from the BBB, the lowest rating possible. Rorher said all 59 now-closed complaints were lodged in the past 18 months. He said he did not know how many other complaints were pending.
After days of trying to reach someone at Textbookwheel, a woman identifying herself only as "Jenna" blamed the U.S. Postal Service for the problem. The site notes it can take weeks for packages shipped via Media Mail to arrive. And, Jenna claimed, boxes that supposedly were holding customers' textbooks arrive empty. This happens all the time, she said.
UPDATE (8/20): Jenna said she is Jennifer Cagan, the company's office manager.
"Our hands are tied at the moment and we can not just pay out money to every customer whose books we never received," Cagan wrote in an e-mail to WalletPop. "The USPS is government run therefore VERY difficult to get any response from or investigation into where these books/packages are disappearing to."
She said the company is looking into using UPS and FedEx. Meanwhile, she said the BBB has been invited to stop by their operation and see all the empty boxes destroyed in the mail delivery process.
A spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service was not immediately available to comment.
McCurdy forwarded a pile of other complaints she culled from Internet complaint sites, all telling the same story of students sending in textbooks and receiving nothing in return. Now she wants people to know about her experience and to get the money she said she is owed.
UPDATE (9/17): McCurdy reports her books were "found" and she received her long-awaited check.
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