Video Professor And The Continuity Model

Continuity programs have to be the number one industry being dogged and harassed by online reputation issues. I figured out why. Hang on here…this is profound…people are DUMB!! Totally, unabashedly, ridiculously, box of hair dumb.

Continuity programs, for those of you not familiar with the term, are also known as auto ship programs or some variation on that theme. Basically you order a product then every month they ship you another order, or the next CD or whatever. Typically the first month is free and you just pay shipping. These programs are hot in the affiliate space and quite often backed with late night infomercials. Big deal right? I’m sure we can all agree that there is no free lunch and if you stop and think for even 2 seconds you can probably come to the conclusion that nobody can pay for infomercial time by giving away their products. Clearly common sense eludes the masses.

Probably the most well known continuity player is Video Professor. John W. Scherer (the Video Professor himself) is a very recognizable face today. You all know who he is. He looks like your favorite uncle and by all accounts he’s a phenomenal business man that’s build an empire teaching people how to add numbers in Excel or get rid of red eyes in their digital photos.

I poked around a bit to see how hard it is to miss the small print that explains that you are enrolling in a program and will be sent more DVDs and be charged for each one. It was pretty damn easy to find. When you fill out the order form there is a check box that is unchecked (you MUST check it to order) that says:

I have read and agree to the details of this offer by reviewing the HOW IT WORKS and Use Agreement program overview.

How It Works and the User Agreement are hyperlinked and one opens a popup and the other opens a new page. I’ll bet the language is confusing and cleverly obfuscated though…

How It Works:

ANY TWO of the three computer tutorial CD-ROMs are yours free without further obligation, PERIOD. Take 10 days to decide if you want to keep the complete set of CDs. After your 10-day free trial, if you decide to keep the complete set, we’ll conveniently bill your credit card just $89.95. Or simply call our customer care number at 1-800-503-3536 if you decide to return any one of the lessons. You will be charged nothing more, and get to keep two computer learning CD-ROMs! You can also return everything within 10 days and receive a full Shipping and Processing refund upon your request.

Hmmm…that’s pretty plain english. Just like you’d expect from your favorite uncle.

User Agreement:

At the end of any Trial or other promotional period, we will begin billing your credit card for subscription fees at the current rate in effect for your use of the SoftwareKeep plus any applicable sales taxes. For your convenience, we will charge the subscription fee (plus any taxes) to the credit card you provide to us during registration (or to a different credit card if you change your account information). Your subscription, whether it is Trial or another promotional period, unless it is a Direct Purchase, will automatically renew for successive subscription periods, without prior notice to you, unless and until you cancel your subscription or we terminate it. You must cancel your subscription before it renews in order to avoid billing of subscription fees to your credit card. We will continue to bill your credit card on a monthly basis (or other periodic billing, depending upon the terms of your subscription) for your subscription to the Software until you cancel your subscription. If you are not satisfied with the fees or billing methods, you may cancel your subscription at any time, but Video Professor will not refund any remaining portion of the monthly (or other periodic) fee when you cancel your subscription. If you subscribed to a free or paid Trial period to the Software, you should understand that your subscription runs continuously from your initial subscription regardless of your use of the Software, and to avoid being charged a subscription fee, you must cancel your account before the end of the Trial period. Video Professor reserves the right to change our fees or billing methods at any time, but we will give you thirty (30) days advance e-mail notice of these changes if your subscription fee(s) will be affected. In certain circumstances, termination charges may apply if you cancel prior to the end of a designated term, if, for example, you have obtained a bonus product.

Certainly that copy is more formal but it’s still pretty damn clear that you aren’t getting anything for nothing.

The real problem here isn’t that continuity programs are hard to describe. It’s also not really that people are dumb. It’s that these dumb people are still smart enough to blog. The bar is too low. I know this sounds totally arrogant but I kinda liked it better when my idiot cousin didn’t know how to work the internet or didn´t know anything about great fonts for resume.

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I found a couple great videos too:

Video Professor

Video Professor


  1. Of course those of thinking a few steps ahead are out there building extortion sites … err I mean community minded sites where people air their grievances, cause it’s much easier to get an angry pissed of person to spew venom and populate your UGC business model … whoops did I just say that

  2. “I know this sounds totally arrogant but I kinda liked it better when my idiot cousin didn’t know how to work the internet.”

    I totally feel this way almost every day. 😉

  3. Continuity Program? Ah, so that’s what they’re called. 🙂

    I’m sure there are plenty of other decent applications for these online. Will have to have a think. 🙂

  4. Perhaps the biggest problem people face before starting an Internet business is this: they don’t know which business model to go with. One of the best business models to go with on the Internet is the continuity business model, or what is popularly known as the membership site.

  5. Continuity , hah , nice..

  6. It’s amazing to see how many people still fall for that.

  7. I reeeeeally hate to admit it but, gor one fleeting moment last night, I fell into the “dumb as a box of hair” mode and almost ordered the Ebay product. Then the other side of my brain which is only dumb as a box of rocks said ‘Why do you need it? That killed the urge to buy. I spent many years in advertising and in sales. We found that the most motivating word you can put into an advertisement is “FREE” Just think, the professor almost got me.


  9. I know I’m kinda going a against the grain here, but I think if there’s a risk that people are unwittingly signing up to something they don’t fully understand then there should be blogs and commentary on complaints and bad experiences. This professor dude has a business model which essentially tries to trick people into making him cash – not cool in my book.

  10. I just checked the Video Professor’s site and it was right on there that they would bill your credit card after. But what I found surprising (even though it’s in plain sight) is they charge $189.95 for 2 CD’s. That seems like a lot to me but I guess they have to charge a lot to pay for all those commercials that have been on forever. Plus I’m sure they have a lot of people dispute those charges with their credit card company and claim it’s fraud but it clearly isn’t, may be a ripoff, but definitely not fraud.

  11. Old school marketing with a new twist 🙂

  12. I can’t agree with you more

  13. Send £20 to enter into our £1 million price draw and receive a free box of chocolates.

    “Friend’s name” you’ve just bought a box of chocolates for £20.

    True story, greedy people get scammed by marketeers!