A rental car company prominently advertises “unlimited mileage.” You rent from them and everything is going fine until you’ve done a few hours of highway driving. That’s when the company tells you it’s changed its unlimited mileage policy. Since you’ve traveled more than 100 miles, they've restricted it so the car you contracted for won't accelerate over 30.
Paying with plastic is a convenience for consumers, but a cost for companies. So small businesses are always looking for a penny to pinch in what they pay to process credit and debit cards. Enter unscrupulous pitch people who resort to impersonation, erasures, fine print, half-truths, and flat-out lies to get a business owner’s signature on a contract. When you're pricing processing, the FTC has advice on protecting yourself from a B2B bamboozle.
When you think about places lacking in oxygen, outer space might come to mind. But there’s another location right here on Planet Earth. And it’s the subject of 15 warning letters just sent by the FTC staff to companies making certain environmental marketing claims for plastic bags.
It’s called ROSCA – the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act – and it prohibits marketers from charging consumers for an online transaction unless the marketer has clearly disclosed all material terms of the deal and received the consumer’s express informed consent. Your e-commerce clients will want to know about the FTC’s first ROSCA case, filed recently in Nevada.
The FTC has been taking a 360° look at debt collection and credit reporting lately – workshops, reports, education, and law enforcement. On October 23, 2014, we're hosting a roundtable in Long Beach, California, with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to get perspectives on how these issues affect Latino consumers, especially those who have limited English proficiency.
At the FTC, we consider policy developments or proposed rule changes one rung at a time. An integral step in that process is the public comment period. If you have clients interested in two matters pending at the FTC, they have more time to put pen to paper.
A. This company just settled a case with the FTC for Do Not Call violations and deceptive promises that its purported educational products would improve kids’ grades and standardized test scores.
Q. What is WordSmart?
We’re not saying it’s the most important phone message since “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.” But the FTC hopes a $105 million settlement with AT&T Mobility stemming from unauthorized charges on consumers’ mobile phone bills will motivate industry members to listen up.
A box of light bulbs. A case of cleaner. Another box of light bulbs. Ordinary supplies that businesses and nonprofits of all sizes use every day. If these things arrive at your office doorstep, someone in your company or organization must have ordered them, right? And when the bill comes, you have to pay it, right? Well, not necessarily.
We can’t vouch for the accuracy of Shakira’s representation that “Hips Don’t Lie.” But the FTC says anti-cellulite and slimming claims for caffeine-embedded underwear sold by lingerie company Wacoal and catalog retailer Norm Thompson were deceptive. As for Norm Thompson's statement that Dr. Oz endorsed its products, the complaint challenges that as false.
One hundred years ago today, the New York Times’ news pages were filled with coverage of the outbreak of World War I in Europe. There were stories about the newly opened Panama Canal and the growing movement for women’s suffrage. For $200, an ad in the paper offered readers the chance to purchase a Victrola phonograph.
If the disclosure of information is necessary to prevent an ad from being deceptive, the disclosure has to be clear and conspicuous. That shouldn’t be news to any advertiser and certainly not to the 60+ companies – including 20 of the 100 biggest advertisers in the U.S. – that received warning letters as a part of the FTC’s Operation Full Disclosure.
History buffs – and fans of the series “Deadwood” – know that promises of riches lured many prospectors west. Now imagine if the general store in Deadwood advertised state-of-the-art shovels, pans, and pick axes necessary for mining, but never delivered the gear or delivered it long after others had mined the prime parcels. That’s pretty much what the FTC says Kansas City-based Butterfly Labs is up to, except that what today’s prospectors are mining are bitcoins.
An online high school that bypasses the pep rallies, proms, and the principal’s office? Under the right circumstances, that might be an innovation in education. But what if it skips the classes and coursework while falsely promising a valid sheepskin from an accredited institution?
Some things you can do in 3 minutes: Drink a glass of water. Send a short email. Feed the dog. According to ICON Health and Fitness, in just 3 short minutes a day, consumers could drop pounds, inches, and clothing sizes by using its Pro-Form ab GLIDER line of exercise equipment.
Say a consumer is thinking about buying something. They give a company information that would be necessary if they ultimately decide to make the purchase. Now suppose the company auctions off that data to the highest bidder, who completes the transaction without ever getting the consumer’s consent to the terms.
Fans of Tiny Pets, Tiny Zoo, Tiny Village, Tiny Monsters, and Mermaid Resort will be relieved to know that adorable Sully the Dog and arch-nemesis Duke Spendington haven’t been named in their individual capacities. But the developer of those kid-directed apps – San-Francisco-based TinyCo, Inc. – just settled an FTC lawsuit alleging the company violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule.
This is a post about the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule. Some readers already have a finger poised over the DELETE button since their business isn’t child-related. But as the FTC’s settlement with Yelp suggests, that would be a mistake.
Big Data is a big deal for businesses, consumers, academics, and policymakers. There's no doubt it opens the door to more powerful analytical techniques that can advance medical research, education, transportation, etc. But some have voiced concerns about whether it may be used to categorize consumers in ways that may affect them unfairly, or even unlawfully. That's the topic on the table at an FTC workshop, Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?, and it's happening today,