The complaint has been investigated and
resolved to the customer's satisfaction
Vital Source Technologies / Course SmartOnline scam


I thought I had found a way to purchase my textbook for half the price by downloading an e-book. However, after paying with my credit card, I was then and only then notified that my operating system was not compatible. Not only did I never receive a confirmation of my order, but after multiple calls to a tech support line (only phone number in existence) I have received no response. It is clear that my $ is gone, I don't foresee any refund being credited.

As a student my money is already spread very thin, and if I couldn't afford the textbook before I certainly can't afford it now. It is appalling that I found the website through resource links from my very own school site. I just want to make some noise and give this site the credit they deserve for their seedy practices!


  • Am
    amandajc Dec 30, 2014

    I have used Coursesmart twice and find it cheap and convenient for texts. Most texts you will never use again as much as you think you will. It is so easy to find things by searching. I was always faster than my classmates to locate something in the text. It makes locating the information for assignments easier too. If you really want to print off an entire text then you should rethink renting an e-text. Also this is a rental. You can rent hard copies of texts too. You can also buy ebooks (Iike kindle for example). So if those are things you would rather do (or buy a paper text), then do that, but don't complain about the company if it is really not the format you want because they are out there.

    0 Votes
  • Jo
    Johnny Reader Feb 01, 2013

    The Coursemart books I've rented have all been very good. The system isn't as good as an e-book PDF, in my opinion, but for reading a book it is fine and I'd rather save the money and have to do things a little different than pay more.

    I'm on my third book and will definitely use them for any other books that are available vs. hard copies. Additionally, I don't ever plan on referencing the text after my class is finished, and I really don't need books I will never read again sitting on my bookshelf. I already have way too many of those.

    0 Votes
  • An
    angrystudent2013 Jan 14, 2013

    The worst. I can't believe Pearson actually supports this company. The preview is crystal clear, but once you pay, the text is blurry and fuzzy. Pages crash all the time, and print is tiny. This company sucks and students should not be victimized by places like this. Shame on you, Pearson, for supporting such criminal activity.

    0 Votes
  • Ug
    Ugur Jan 14, 2013
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    my conclusion after reading some of these comments and thinking over course smart limitations or policies;
    course smart sucks!
    I'd rather go buy the book itself than pay course smart

    0 Votes
  • Ca
    catwomun Nov 08, 2012

    The work-around to keep your books it to print to pdf. Unfortunately, you can only do this 10 pages at a time but once you have the total book, you can combine it into one big pdf (using Preview on a Mac). It took me about 30 mins and I couldn't remove the mark that is at the top. So, obviously you can't share it with other people since your name is on it but you can at least keep the book for yourself.

    0 Votes
  • St
    student2012 Feb 18, 2012
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    If you are considering purchasing a CourseSmart product I recommend that you either learn from my mistake and DO NOT BUY ANY BOOKS from CourseSmart or check out the free trial before you decide to purchase.
    After I paid $104 for a microbiology textbook thinking it would be a convenient way to have all my heavy text books with me where ever I go, I found out that there are so many cons it was not worth all the trouble. I ended up feeling ripped off after my 180day online rental.

    -light weight; don't have to carry heavy text books
    -each chapter is organized by quick links on the side
    -easy to look up chapters, terms, and page numbers
    -allows you to copy, highlight, take notes, print, or share selected text (*with limitations)

    -too expensive; not worth it
    -after a short two week time frame from the purchase date you will no longer be able to return or sell this book back
    -must log in multiple times because the program will sometimes log out without warning
    ***username and password cannot be saved in browser history
    -can highlight but hard to select the exact area that you need highlighted
    -can copy and paste but you must first select the area of text that you would like to copy, then press the copy button at the top of the screen, then a new window will pop up, then you must reselect and copy the text that is inside the new window
    *short-cut commands will not work (for example: pressing control+c on your pc or command+c on your mac will not copy the selected text)
    ***if the font was bold, italics, etc. in the text it will be changed to a default font in new window where it is no longer bold, italics, etc.
    ***if copying multiple paragraphs the paragraphs will no longer be neatly separated
    ***not allowed to copy or paste any images/pictures or tables from the text
    -only allowed to print 10pages at once
    -when taking notes your notes are only visible one note at a time after you have clicked the notes tab, and selected the note that you would like to view
    ***cannot view notes while simultaneously viewing the text
    -while reading only one page is visible view at a time
    -there is no option available to view two pages at once like in a printed text
    -if you need a text-to-speech application it WILL NOT work
    "The Apple OSX VoiceOver system can be used with CourseSmart to provide text-to-speech capabilities. Users with experience using VoiceOver on iOS devices can also use it on the iPad and iPhone. CourseSmart cannot support users in the use of the Apple products"
    ***quote taken from CourseSmart help page

    ...If the cons listed above are not issues for you then by all means enjoy your experience with CourseSmart. My expectations may have just been too high for an online text.



    Overall Rating:
    Avoid It


    0 Votes
  • Th
    thts Feb 05, 2012

    coursesmart is not all that BAD!
    I had no issues. so convenient to read ebooks

    0 Votes
  • Th
    thts Feb 05, 2012

    I don't understand what everyone is complaining about. This website allows you to rent or buy books. I never had an issue and its nice to read the book on my computer instead of having to carry the book around.

    0 Votes
  • Db
    DB1 aka Desmond Holt Oct 18, 2011

    wow i was just about to buy a book, seriously all i need to do is press this last button conferming my information and i would have gotten ripped off :(.

    thank you very very very much. i will just pay the 85.00

    0 Votes
  • Ti
    Tiffany54321 Sep 04, 2011

    This company is horrible. They charged me twice for a textbook and it took them about three months to refund me after four phone calls. In addition, I also bought two textbooks back in 2010 as the "permanent download option" and they told me I would have access to them forever. Since then they changed their policy and now only offer online rentals, so my books dissappeared. You know what I call that? FRAUD! They can't take delete my textbooks because they change their company policy. That's not what I bought! DO NOT BUY FROM THIS LOSER COMPANY! I'm reporting this fraud to the government and I encourage others to do the same.

    0 Votes
  • Pe
    PeterK01 Aug 30, 2011

    Coursesmart is awful. I hate it. I paid $92 dollars for 6 months of limited access to a book. I have purchased McGraw Hill e*books and loved them. I travel all the time and do not always have access to the internet. Coursesmart advertises offline access, but only allows you to download three chapters at a time. Additionally, you always read the book through the internet browser. It is inferior to other methods e*book usage. I guess you can use Coursesmart if you have no other choice, but before spending a dime on their lousy product, I would desperately seek out any available alternatives.

    0 Votes
  • Li
    LindaL Smith Jun 29, 2011

    Coursesmart in my opinion is like a spider, weaving its web to control the market of ebooks. Instead of selling you the ebook they charge you the same price it should cost to buy it, ( usually half of the hard cover price) they make you Rent, after 180 days it expires. Not only are they attempting to monopolized the industries by hooking on as an affiliate to almost all large book publishers, they now are hooking on to large ebook sellers as well. They are exploiting students! Report them to your schools and complain to the better business bureau. I did !

    0 Votes
  • Br
    Brittani Knott Apr 20, 2011
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    This is by far the worst online experience I have had over the past four years. DO NOT do business with this website, especially if you use an iPad. The textbook freezes and the sign in screen malfunctions. They took 70 bucks from me for nothing!!

    0 Votes
  • Eg
    egrant Apr 16, 2011
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    I will be part of a class action law suit. I downloaded a book and I don't think it's all here. I have read and read about refunds. I'm tired of reading, I want to refund.

    1 Votes
  • Pe
    PeterHook Jan 16, 2011

    Sorry guys, but.. CourseSmart advertises itself as nothing more- or less- than an electronic rendering of a standard textbook.

    Electronic data is ephemeral in any case, and while I would like to buy rather than rent as much as anyone, do you really need a textbook longer than the duration of a course? I mean, if it's on the list for courses conceivably in my future, I will purchase a hard copy. No two ways. But honestly, there are better mediums for works of reference than school texts. These are primers, people, not encyclopaedias.

    And printing? Why did you buy an electronic text if what you really wanted was to hold the stuff in your hands? In any case, the cost you cut by buying it through CourseSmart will be just about made up for if you're going to print the darn thing off.

    I checked the website- and Google- carefully before downloading anything onto my operating system, let alone paying for it. I was fortunate enough to be in luck- and if I hadn't been, I wouldn't have gone any further with the product.

    Finally, in case this is news to anybody, try to tell yourself that web-based companies are known for their customer service. They ain't. Buyer beware- remember that? Take care of yourself and you won't end up crying over the mistreatment you get at the hands of a few university-aged service reps as stressed out and underfinanced as you are.

    2 Votes
  • Sp
    Spixe Jan 09, 2011

    Yeah, CourseSmart is such a rip off. We can only print 10 pages at a time, we can't even have access to it outside of one single computer. We can't put it on a usb and read it on a laptop on the go, or on a mobilereader, etc. What a waste of money, they really sucker people into thinking you are buying an "ebook". Your buying to look at their proprietary online "viewer" for 60 days, thats all, nothing more.

    0 Votes
  • St
    student518 Jan 06, 2011

    the only reason I am taking time to do this is because i want to warn other studetns that coursesmart sucks.
    1. the software system that they make you download to see the book is complicated.
    2. on top of that, you CAN only print 10 pages at a time. so when i wanted to print like 8 chapters to study and highlight, it took me about TWO hours. TWO HOURSSSSS that I could have spent studying. how [censor] is that?
    3. On top of that, they're customer support is terrible! no where on the website could i find their phone number so I had to google "coursesmart phone number" to get the phone and call them. And then they make you go through a bunch of options and a rep told me to redial b/c i pressed the wrong options, instead of just transferring my call.

    worst experience ever.
    i am filing a complaint with BBB. I advise you guys do the same if you had a terrible experience, also! they DO NOT DESERVE to stay in business with such terrible customer service and products!!!

    0 Votes
  • Sk
    SkinnyTony Dec 16, 2010

    My experience was actually pretty pleasant. While paying for a book that I don't get to keep is ridiculous, what I received what a perfectly functional product that was slightly more convenient that a printed book, due to a hyperlinked table of contents. I saw a note taking functionality but didn't use it, so no comment there. I was able to copy and paste (although through a mildly annoying tool), so that helped me take some easy notes on what I was reading. Overall, I returned the book after only 2 days because I decided I wanted to buy it for real, but if you don't mind renting, I'd say this is a good option. My book, International Economics: Theory and Policy, certainly is much cheaper than any (new) purchasable copy I've seen, and unlike some other complaints, my book was very legible, although that might change from book to book. There could be some slight improvements to the image quality, though, as my book's pages were just a bit fuzzy and dirty looking. The main thing that I was pleased with though was that their return policy actually worked as promised, and I got my money back right away, even though I read about 100 pages. You have to see their policy about what constitutes a returnable book, but I'd say it's reasonable. As far as I can tell, they're not evil.

    2 Votes
  • Ca
    Can-Do Nov 28, 2010

    I am also very disappointed with CourseSmart for all the same reasons; the software, the printing etc. What really burns me is that I can't KEEP the book I just purchased!!! I go back to my textbooks often for reference, and I am deeply disgusted with the fact that I purchased an e-book from this sham company only to find out after that it has an "expiration" date. It didn't say I was renting the book (especially for $40 bucks). Anybody cracked this system so I can keep what I rightfully purchased???

    Don't use CourseSmart, and lodge a complaint at your school library to get rid of this piece of garbage!

    0 Votes
  • Ct
    ctcabm Sep 12, 2010

    You can't print more than ten pages at a time and the printing SUCKS!!!
    The text is reduced to a garbled image and it is pure BS.
    I paid $50 and got nothing but a clunky program and a shtty bool with a horible printing!

    Look at the attached image to see what I mean!

    0 Votes
  • Be
    bebechrissy Sep 03, 2010

    I agree with everyone. I have purchased 3 ebooks from Coursesmart & only found (once I bought the 3rd) that you don't get to keep a permanent copy of the books. Once the semester ended I still had access so I didn't think about, until I bought the 3rd book and saw that I could no longer access the previous 2. They are not clear about an expiration. If I wanted to rent a book I would have done so. I thought I was purchasing an ebook not renting it! Coursesmart is a scam and I will never use them again! I'm contacting the BBB. Do not do business with Coursesmart!

    0 Votes
  • Fi
    Fizzmaster Aug 26, 2010
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    I too purchased an eBook from CourseSmart only to find that they force you to use their horrible tool to view it. The quality is so poor that it is completely worthless. I had to cough up the dough to buy a real copy just so I can read the book without getting headache.

    I have contacted the BBB and my credit card company.

    I would not recommend that anyone do business with these folks.

    0 Votes
  • Se
    selavy Jan 20, 2010

    Thanks for sharing this. I found and was thinking of buying my textbook from them ( it's listed for almost a third of the hard copy sold on amazon or ebay) but after reading your comments I will keep my money.

    Thanks again!

    1 Votes
  • Sh
    Shabnaaz Jun 13, 2009

    Hi guys,

    I had the same awful experience with CourseSmart. I purchased an e-book and when i received it i was told that i only have limited access. it is not clear at all from their website that you don't actually own the e-book just like you would own a print copy. They lure students into thinking this is a good alternative to print textbook however once you place an order with them, that's it all doors of communication are closed, i got the run around over and over again. I called and spoke with at least a dozen of customer representatives and none of them was able to help me with anything. The only and only thing each time i get is we forwarded your request to another department and that they have not even a phone never where you can access someone else who can help you.
    I payed $63.40 for a textbook that i no longer own, I should have bought a print copy instead. I am soo angry at this company and I just filed a complaint with BBB.
    Anyone who knows of other way of making more noise about this shameful company, please let me know.

    1 Votes
  • Jt
    jtugliesa Mar 13, 2009

    Hi Jamie and another responder to this situation. The same thing just happened to me . I purchased the ebook on 1/3/09 but never got it. Many emails and talk with the live person netted no results. I will try Mr. Sean McKeever thank you for the email address and if that doesn't work we can begin a class action suit against CourseSmart to collect for the book price and also for the cost of the class that we were still obligated to pay for! I am angry and depressed, because I had great expectations of new technology in the classroom but have been short changed by this scam! I am a single parent and student and "ouch" this hurts!
    [email protected]

    1 Votes
  • Un
    Unhappy w/ Coursesmart Mar 03, 2009

    I am right there with you Jamie, exact same scenario. However, I have an email from a Mr. Sean [email protected] stating that he intended to refund my money and now ... all communication has stopped. Make no mistake though, I am going to make some noise!!!

    You should Too!!!

    1 Votes

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