Round 15: Capital One vs Video Professor

This is Round 15 in our Worst Company in America contest, Capital One vs Video Professor.

Capital One’s amusing credit card commercials aren’t so funny after dealing with their appalling customer service staffed by thugs and gutter snipes.

Video Professor hooks people on subscription plans, advertising that you can quit any time, then doesn’t let you quit and keeps fraudulently billing you. Then when people posted complaints on infomercialscams.com, Video Professor tried to sue them out of existence and also sought the identities of the complaining consumers.

This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2008 series. The companies nominated for this honor were chosen by you, the readers. Keep track of all the goings on at consumerist.com/tag/worst-company-in-america/

STILL OPEN FOR VOTING: eBay/Paypal vs COX, Apple vs SallieMae, Diebold Vs Pfizer, MTV vs TransUnion
CompUSA vs DirecTV
Target vs Best Buy
Allstate vs Verizon,
DeBeers vs 1800 flowers, Starbucks vs United Airlines,
Exxon vs Crocs, Google Vs Sony, Ticketmaster vs Wachovia, Facebook vs The American Arbitration Association, Comcast vs Menu Foods

Comments

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  1. Moosehawk says:

    I REALLY hate that video professor guy. Doesn’t he still sell “Learn windows 95!” cds?

  2. SkyeBlue says:

    The Video Professor guy isn’t as annoying though as that woman who comes on in the whiny/ nasaly voice and says that her 3 1/2 year old daughter is better at using the computer than she is!

    Is that before or after she used the courses?

  3. carterbeauford says:

    video professor all the way, I would choke that dude to death if I had 5 minutes alone.

  4. trujunglist says:

    Holy shit, it’s down the wire folks! This one’s a nail biter! Who will be the first to fall and not have the ability to get up? Stay tuned!
    I voted for Capital One, because they’re a bunch of dicks that constantly send me auto loan offers even though they won’t give me a credit limit of more than $500 and a shitty as hell APR.

  5. johnva says:

    I think VP “wins” here. Capital One has improved quite a bit recently, IMHO. They ended their predatory practice of not reporting credit limits, and they even sent me a letter asking to upgrade the features of my account for me. So I think C1 has actually made an effort to try to improve. I have to give them some credit for that.

  6. EmperorOfCanada says:

    Go video professor! I dont know if you have what it takes to go all the way, but I’ve got your back!

  7. TechnoDestructo says:

    Capital one pissed me off enough to get me to cancel my card about 8 or 9 years ago, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was they did.

    But Video Professor radiates dark waves of unmistakable sleaze.

  8. spinachdip says:

    As someone who does ads for a living, I have two problems with Capital One ads, besides the overall suck:

    1) The ads focus so much on the problems, i.e. the blackout dates, high rates, that it’s too easy to associate Capital One with the problem, not the solution. A good test with commercials is watching with the sound off – chances are, most people would think the vikings (or whateverthefuck) represents Capital One. I understand the message, but the first thing I think of when I hear “Capital One” is “Lame commercials, getting killed on high rates, blackout dates”. It’s easy to make jokes about the negatives, but it’s a lot harder to express a product’s benefits in a memorable, non-preachy way.

    2) The tagline, “What’s in your wallet?” is a classic “Don’t” in copywriting. You shouldn’t ask a question if there’s a possibility that you won’t like the answer, but hacky copywriters have been doing the question-as-tagline thing ever since “Got milk?” was a hit. The line says absolutely nothing about the product – it just makes me say, “Well, some cash, my ATM card, a couple of credit cards THAT AREN’T CAPITAL ONE, receipts, business cards…”.

    That said, I’m voting for the video professor.

  9. z4ce says:

    I boychotted Capitalone for ages because of their annoying pop-up ads of long-ago. However, they really seem to have changed their attitude lately. I’ve noticed their annoying ad rate is way down and their really offer some unique services. Being in American in Australia they have saved me a lot of money in foreign conversion fees (since they are the only company that has NO foreign conversion fees).

    Speaking of foreign conversion fees.. I recently needed to use my St. George Credit Union ATM card in America. I used a BoFA ATM.. 3.50 fee from BoFA.. from my bank so far $5 Overseas Withdrawal and $7 foreign conversion fee. Absolutely insane. Oddly enough, using my American card in Australia only incurs a $1 fee…

  10. johnva says:

    @z4ce: Yeah, I forgot about that one. That is another big redeeming feature of Capital One, and it’s one reason I keep mine around (the other is that it’s my oldest card on my credit history). They also seem to have gotten much less stingy about credit limits lately with non-subprime customers.

  11. valleyqueen says:

    If you’ve EVER had to call Crapital One’s customer service, the decision would be very clear to you. Being passed off to one incompetent rep after another, then transferred to the Spanish speaking line, then hung up on (elapsed time: 1 hour) is not awesome.

  12. trujunglist says:

    @spinachdip:

    And yet, we all remember exactly which ads are Capital One ads. They’re the annoying war-related ones that end with a “What’s in your wallet?” We also all know Geico ads because of how much they suck. Therefore, it can’t be nearly as bad as making a generic and forgettable ad based on rigorous “inside the box” (God.. I detest that type of saying as much as you probably detest Capital One and Geico ads) advertising strategies.

  13. Squeezer99 says:

    whoa this is a tough one, i voted VP though

  14. spinachdip says:

    @trujunglist: Well, yeah, I’m not saying do everything by the rules – quite the opposite.

    And while name recognition is priceless, you also have to think about how the audience perceives your brand. Geico’s advertising has done wonders for them, and bully for that, but they’ve also pidgenholed themselves as the low rent insurer.

  15. Okaasan says:

    I’m voting for Capital One. I’m tired of them wanting to know what’s in my wallet. Why? Are they going to pick my pocket and want to know if it’s worth it?

  16. Ghede says:

    @trujunglist: Nope. I don’t. Cable was cut off because I missed a payemnt, and Cablevision demands a 100+ dollar re-activation fee.

    I’ve never been happier.

  17. bhall03 says:

    Cinderella???

  18. Moosehawk says:

    Whoa, this is dead-heat.

    Is it just me, or does it seem like this is more battle of which commercials and other misc advertisements suck more?

  19. SkyeBlue says:

    I have to vote for Capital One. They issued my daughter, who has terrible credit and no job a credit card a few months back. I’m sure they must have known, with her credit score and rating that she would never make the payments. So of course now she has late fees on top of late fees on top of an unpaid balance. Not saying it is their fault she is not paying her bill of course, but what the hell kind of business sense does it make to give someone a credit card when they have such bad credit?

    America, no wonder we are on the road to ruin.

  20. sburnap42 says:

    Capital One for sure. I’ve never heard of Video Professor but Capital One sends us two credit card offers a week. Like clockwork.

  21. johnva says:

    @valleyqueen: I’ve called them and they provided better service than my other credit card company.

  22. johnva says:

    @SkyeBlue: It could make great business sense if you can charge a high enough interest rate to make up for the customers that default. 29% interest will cover quite a few defaults…

    @sburnap42: And you object to this so much why? You can opt out of all prescreened offers of credit. Not defending snail mail spam, but that’s an easily solved problem if it bothers you.

  23. EmperorOfCanada says:

    Yikes this one IS close. Go VP!

  24. Syrenia says:

    The VP tactics against detractors was the deciding factor for me.

  25. urban_ninjya says:

    I’m sure capitalone screwed over many more people. But, Video Professor all the way. Those commercials are annoying.

  26. telepheedian says:

    @Moosehawk:
    Nope, but they still offer Windows 98, and for that, they got my vote, if you’re scared of using a computer, then you shouldn’t be using one.

  27. nequam says:

    CapitalOne should just drop out of the race, already. There’s no way it can overtake Video Professor in the delegate count. Wait… Oh, damn.

  28. TechnoDestructo says:

    @telepheedian:

    I think the people who would fall for video professor are the sort who would be buying computers at thrift stores. (and not because it’s cool) Therefore Windows 98 makes sense.

    OTOH, for what Video Professor will steal (yes, steal) from them, they could be buying new computers.

  29. ChrisC1234 says:

    Capital One gets my vote. They can cause you much more damage than the Video Professor. Also, they bought out a New Orleans based bank just a couple of years ago. Now, they’re laying off most of the employees at the former New Orleans headquarters. Screw the customers. Screw the employees. Screw America.

  30. As stupid as Video Professor is, they can’t even begin to dick people over on the level that Capital One can!

  31. GreatCaesarsGhost says:

    As bad a C1 is, they are a real company offering a legit service. VP is literally a con.

  32. Eh, my C1 has always been good to me.

  33. humphrmi says:

    This was a tough one for me, because I haven’t had a particularly bad experience with either. I’ve never used Video Professor, and although I have a CapOne card it’s little used and I’ve never had an issue I needed them to resolve.

    So I voted for Video Professor – that bit about them trying to get the identities of customers who complained about them was what pushed me over to their side.

  34. Kazari says:

    I checked out the Infomercial Scams page ([www.infomercialscams.com]). It’s unbelievable the kind of information they were requesting. And all because people wrote inane stuff like “I agreed to pay the $6.95 fee then I got hit with a $89 charge on my credit card.”

    Who do they think they are!?

    Capital One is what it is — a credit card company with a lot of downmarket customers. But VP’s conduct is wreckless.

    VP FTW!

  35. pdxguy says:

    Ever notice in the VP commercials that, towards the end, he says something like “try my product”. Just an odd phrasing I think.

  36. Christovir says:

    @pdxguy: Yes, and he sounds so sad when he says it too. You can hear the shame in his voice!

  37. forgottenpassword says:

    I have a personal history with capital one & really HATE them with a passion. Back in the day when I was not as consumer savvy…. I had a card through them. Even though I ALWAYS paid my bill on time every month, for some reason (at least 3-4 times a year) I would incure their $25 late fees. I believe this is because they have a special “processing facility” (in atlanta I think) that’s sole purpose is to delay mailed payments before sending them off to the final payment processing place. This was just a theory I had long ago to explain why the bills I sent off way ahead of time didnt make it on time somehow.

    There was also an issue when i went to cancell the card because of their late fee shenanigans. They kept keeping minute interest amounts on my card so they could keep me as a customer (tlking about like less than 3 dollars). I had to LITERALLY OVERPAY to get it to where they would finally cancell my account. The miserable bastards!

    So, even though the video professor may be a tad bit more evil than the usual evilness of credit card companies….. i am going to vote for capital one…. I hold a special contemptuous place in my heart for them.

  38. lightaugust says:

    I think I’m just happy there’s such a tight first round matchup.

  39. @spinachdip: Commercials suck. You can say anything you want about Capital One’s lame copywriting, but the best thing that has come to advertising in decades is the TiVo.

  40. WraithSama says:

    Capital One sucks. I frequently carry a small balance on my card, always pay on time and never go over my limit, they’re bombarding me with home loan offers now that I’m looking to buy a house, and I have a 780 credit score… YET, for some reason, will NOT raise my card’s credit limit over $700. WTF?

    I can’t even buy a new fridge for the house I’m planning to purchase with that limit. I have the cash to pay, but want the added benefits/protections of buying it with a credit card, and don’t want to have to open a new card to do it. Looks like I may have no choice…

    On the other hand, I’ve thought for years that Video Professor was a scam.

  41. uberbucket says:

    Capital One. For calling me non-stop every day,(multiple times) for months over a delinquent account owned by an old roommate. Even after I explained to them over and over that “For the last time, that guy doesn’t f*cking live here anymore.”

    Now I get a collection agency calling me about the same thing day after day; they don’t listen either.

  42. bluewyvern says:

    Wow, this one is close. Now, as far as total capacity to do damage in the great scheme of things, Capital One might come out ahead, but I think GreatCaesarsGhost said it: “As bad a C1 is, they are a real company offering a legit service. VP is literally a con.”

    Capital One is actually working to provide a service, even if we may not always be satisfied with every aspect of the business. But Video Professor exists just to take your money. It’s like the difference between [insert big bad company you don't like], and a lemonade stand where the kid spits in every cup and picks your pocket as you leave — small scale, but no redeeming qualities at all. As far as percent rottenness, I think VP wins.

  43. faust1200 says:

    I voted for VP – I have no experiences with C1. I think it my vote for VP stems from the line in his commercials “Just buy my product.” because of his desperate and irritating tone of voice. He looks like a guy who slurs at women and kicks his dog after he stumbles home drunk.

  44. ottawa_guy says:

    Voted for Crapital One… I have a card with them.

    A year back, I applied for a secured card, where I had to put a deposit on it. Granted, I didd’t have a credit history, and only had 1 other card open at that time (with my bank, and the limit was $500.00) I could see why they would charge me.

    Fast forward 11 months later.. I now have 6 (yep thats right) 6 credit cards. That old card I had before Capital One, well now it’s a gold card (Gold Cards in Canada, excluding Crapital one have to be a credit limit of $5k or higher), I have another US dollar card with a 5k limit, and 2 other gold cards from major banks.

    What does Crapital do? Well they see I am not using my card, so they raise the limit to $1500.00 and dont want to budge on ever getting my security deposit back or getting rid of the damn annual fees! All my cards have 0.00 annual fee with the major banks, if Crapital wants to play, why dont they play fair!

    Now I am getting purchasing checks every 2 weeks like clockwork… I am waiting until next month, thats when my 1 year anniversary with them is up and either they are changing my card to no annual fee and refunding my deposit, or I am cancelling

  45. mejimmy says:

    at least the video professor does not call me at home at least once or twice a day.

    But you have to look at that mug on the tele.

  46. aka Cat says:

    Wow, as of my vote this is a dead tie!

    I voted for VP. The problems with Capital One are mostly (though not all) down to employee incompetence. VP is 100% scammy and evil.

  47. homerjay says:

    Wow. Still a tie by like 4 votes. Well, as I always say- in a toss up, always vote for the bank to be the big loser.

  48. Ghede says:

    Finally, a close match. Even the winner will feel like a loser.

  49. cde says:

    I voted Capital one cause I keep getting their spam mail. Actually, I like seeing I have mail, even if it is just dead trees Im throwing out in a second. I really voted Capital one just to make this poll dead even :D

  50. IrisMR says:

    Video Professor for me. Ultra scammer.

  51. strangeffect says:

    50/50? Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.

  52. EBounding says:

    I’ve never had a problem with Capital One. So I’m voting for Mr. Try-My-Product.

  53. @GreatCaesarsGhost: And that’s the only reason VP wins, IMO. C1 sends my son, the unemployed college student, at least three offers a week. I usually intercept them (the Postmaster General can bite my hairy white ass) and run them through the shredder unopened, but just in case, I also made sure the kid gets the utter illogic of someone like him being in possession of a credit card. I’d almost rather see him join the Marines than get hooked up with Capitol One.

  54. ColonelDebugger says:

    It’s a dead heat. let them both lose or win or something.

  55. sleze69 says:

    Wow 3186 for CO and 3187 for VP. Great competition in this round. I still say that Capitol One is the more evil of the two.

  56. evenkevin says:

    When I cast my vote, the results indicated that C1 had one more vote than VP, out of about 5k total votes cast. It chokes me up a bit knowing that at that moment, my vote did count. ;)

    But had I actually educated myself I would have picked VP.

  57. marchhare22 says:

    oh man its tied! this is a close one.

  58. scoosdad says:

    @Steaming Pile: Would be ironic if Capitol One is sending your unemployed son cash in those envelopes, or job offers.

    Be careful running stuff like that through the shredder unopened. I had one yesterday that had a nickel attached to a card inside.

  59. NotATool says:

    Holy crap it’s still a dead heat!

    VP has terribly annoying, sleazy low budget commercials.

    I voted for C1 because of their terribly annoying high budget commercials. If you are bathing in cash, the least you can do is come up with something better for TV. Thank goodness I can usually skip your commercials thanks to my DVR.

  60. harshmellow says:

    I had to vote for VP. I just couldn’t let his awful behavior stand. Any company whose model is based on “you can stop at any time” and then doesn’t honor that deserves to go down in flames.

  61. boss_lady says:

    It’s neck and neck!

  62. AceKicker says:

    … Holy crap, for the first time in my life I think my vote counted for something!

    It was a close call for me as well, but I ultimately voted for Capital One. This was the tie breaker:

    Video Professor is an infomercial, and by default all infomercialls are sketchy. You had no real reason to trust them to give what they expected in the first place. They had no prior reputation and no infrastructure to speak of. Think of buying off an ebay seller with no feedback. If you buy from them and they screw you, you got to take part of the blame yourself because you should have known it was coming.

    Capital One involves big money, and by default that makes them suspicious as well, but they’ve got infrastructure. They can’t hide behind obscurity. Their existence doesn’t throw up as many red flags as VP. And they service a HELL of a lot more people. And yet, they still make your life hell. Why? Because they can.

  63. nutrigm says:

    Ok here’s why it’s a tie. First people vote for Capital one by instict because “Hey, it has something to do directly with money!”. And then they scroll down to read the facts about how evil Video Professor is and then they realize “shoot I should have voted for that!”. And voila! a tie!

  64. rmz says:

    Go go VP!

  65. Kavatar says:

    I would’ve voted for Video Professor, but the founder and guy in the infomercials looks like a nice guy (even if he runs a scammy business). With his bald head and mustache he reminds me of my dad. I can’t vote against my dad!

  66. theheights says:

    I tied it up for VP at 3642 votes each!

    Vote VP!

  67. Draneor says:

    Personally, I don’t really get the Capital One hate. I make a lot of foreign transactions, so the card is perfect for me (no exchange fee). Since I’ve opted out of their mailings, they haven’t sent me anything. I pay (usually bi-weekly) online and never carry a balance. When I’ve had to speak to their customer service, I usually don’t wait too long, although I pity the representatives who have to try to force certain other products on callers. Simple “nos” work for me.

    The only problem I’ve ever had is that their auto-fraud prevention measures tend to kick in every other month, since, I guess, normal people don’t buy 50,000円 worth of goods one weekend from a couple of different merchants. It can be a hassle to call them and verify every charge, but I can live with it. It’s better than not watching for unusual activity, I guess.

    Anyway, while it is the only credit card I have had and I do not carry a balance, I enjoy abusing the no exchange fee. ^^ I guess people’s experiences vary.

  68. rmz says:

    @Draneor: To be fair, international purchases are potential red flag for some auto-fraud prevention systems. If you had spent $500 within the US in a weekend instead of 50,000円 over the internet, I don’t imagine that the fraud warning would have been triggered.

  69. johnva says:

    @Draneor: The only real problem I’ve got with them at this point is that they tend to give very small credit lines and they usually just automatically say no if you ask for an increase. But from what I’ve read they’ve gotten better about this lately. The not reporting credit lines thing was pretty bad, but again they stopped doing that. So I truly feel that Capital One is making a serious effort to reform and eliminate customer-unfriendly practices. For that alone they don’t deserve to win this matchup.

  70. JPropaganda says:

    Video Professor targets the old and clueless then scams them out of their money.

    Capital One’s customer service isn’t great, but that’s about it…

    VP FTW

  71. Trai_Dep says:

    Wow, my nails are bitten down to the swift!
    (Voted Capital One because, unlike the 3,810 potheads here that watch Video Prof ads thru bloodshot, half-closed eyes at 3am, I haven’t seen the ads.
    Damn guys – next time share okay?!)

  72. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @rainmkr & @GreatCaesarsGhost: Hence my dilemma because both of you are right.

    I voted Capital One because there have been more complaints here about them than Video Professor. Is that a fair tie breaker? Maybe not.

  73. theheights says:

    Whoa, how did VP get so far behind? Perhaps some stuffing of the ballot box going on…

  74. slapBOXmaster says:

    After looking at my APR and seeing how much you get shit on by Capitol One I will be dropping them.

  75. thedragonlady says:

    Video Prof, just because their ads are so annoying. Luckily, I’ve never experienced any problems with Capital One … ever. (Probably just jinxed myself there.]

    I’ve been with them for a long time now. My credit rating was screwed and I got an unsecured CC w/a 500 limit. Many years later I’ve got a guaranteed no annual fee, ever, really low apr, high limit platinum card with them. It’s also a rewards card, so I get a nice sum of cash back each year, as it’s my primary credit card.

    Have never had any customer service issues with them, and on the 3 occassions I’ve filed fraud/chargebacks it’s been resolved really fast.

    Just my .02.

  76. KD17 says:

    Outside of seeing his crappy commercials I have never known anyone that has bought any of the Video Professor’s products so I don’t really know how good or bad his stuff is.

    I’ve had a Capital One card for years and years. It’s always been more of a back up card and any time I’ve had to deal with them their customer service has pretty crappy.

    Until last November when two of my credit card numbers were stolen and used. One was the Cap 1 card and the other was my Providian/Washington Mutual. It was actually Capital One that notice odd activity and called me. The removed the charges immediately and without hassle.

    Providian/Washington Mutual took a little longer and a few phone calls. Nothing horrible but to my surprise not as painlessly as Cap1.

    I still may vote for the Video Professor though. He looks like my step-father and that gives you an automatic -50 on my scoreboard :)

  77. Kilotonne says:

    This is a close fight, like elections!

    I voted for C1 because the amount of paper they mail out, and the resulting ecological impact of all the dead trees and all the spent fuel of the mail trucks is atrocious.

  78. President Beeblebrox says:

    @postnocomments: TiVO and DVRs, ftw.

    Incidentally, both C1 and VP are scum. :)

  79. zibby says:

    I know a lot of people are going to vote for Capital One, and probably for some pretty good reasons, but Video Professor is an out-and-out scam. I’m going VP.

  80. Lucky225 says:

    Video Professor, amongst MANY OTHER MERCHANTS, use WEST@home to take incoming calls for their products. This means you are talking to someone working from their home. I used to work for this company, AOL would always transfer people to me(at home) to advertise video professor to them, I felt bad for every person I signed up, because even though you have to read this script verbatim, I don’t think the customer’s really know what they’re getting into. There is a way to cancel it, and I have a Capital One card and hate them as well, so this was a hard choice to make. I settled on Video Professor, I think they take advantage of people more easily.

  81. JDAC says:

    Just like any shit you buy off the TV, you just can’t trust the baldy slaphead professor.

    I haven’t dealt with either but I would kinda expect to be reamed by Capital One.

    Evil professor wins!