A class action lawsuit has been filed against PublishAmerica, a notorious vanity press that has long appeared in the Writer Beware! bulletins from the Science Fiction Writers of America, which warns of bad business practices from publishers (and "publishers") who prey on naive would-be authors. From the complaint:
Defendant PublishAmerica is a book publisher that portrays itself as "a traditional, royalty paying publisher." But unlike traditional publishers, which profit from the sale of books, defendant profits from its own clients, i.e., the authors who submit works for publication by defendant. Defendant lures these authors in by promising to publish their book at no cost, and it makes false and misleading representations that it will promote their books and support the authors' efforts to sell their own books. But this is not the case.
Instead, once the authors sign the contract, which gives defendant the rights to their book for seven to ten years, defendant does nothing constructive to promote their books, but instead offers various promotion packages on a fee-for-service basis....These services, which are either misrepresented or never carried out, are not reasonably designed to promote class members' books....
Defendant provides very poor editing services, is slow to respond to book orders, and it routinely overprices the books it publishes. This is no accident. Defendant will only lower the price of its clients' books to a competitive rate for a $399 fee. These practices make it difficult for even the most enterprising authors to promote their own books.
Defendant is not responsive to inquiries from its clients, or worse it is dismissive or belligerent.
The Writer Beware! post has information on how you can join the class if you feel you've been wronged by PublishAmerica.