"Operation Misprint" Defendants Banned from Telemarketing Of Nondurable Office, Cleaning or Janitorial Supplies As Part of FTC Settlement

For Release

Quality Maintenance Supplies, Inc., based in Chicago, and its principal, Joanne M. Drobut, have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they shipped and billed consumers for unordered maintenance supplies. The case was filed in federal district court as part of "Operation Misprint," a multi-agency effort to crack down on bogus office and maintenance supply telemarketing schemes that targeted large and small businesses and non-profit organizations. As part of the settlement, Joanne Drobut will be banned from engaging in the telemarketing of nondurable office, cleaning and janitorial supplies. She also must pay $80,000 in redress for consumers.

In December 1999, the Commission filed its complaint alleging that the defendants duped their victims into accepting and paying for shipments of unordered merchandise. According to the FTC, the defendants used high school student telemarketers who offered purportedly free gifts or product samples to small businesses and not-for-profit organizations for the purpose of identifying the individual in the organization authorized to purchase supplies. The defendants then shipped and billed these organizations for unordered nondurable office supplies and cleaning products, charging them three to four times the market price. The settlement announced today resolves the case.

The proposed settlement, which requires the court's approval, would prohibit the defendants from committing future violations of the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule. Specifically, the defendants would be prohibited from:

  • shipping unordered goods;
  • billing for unordered goods, and
  • misrepresenting the purpose of their telemarketing calls, that a person had ordered the supplies defendants shipped, or that consumers have an obligation to pay for merchandise they did not order.

The proposed settlement also would require Drobut to treat any unordered merchandise sent to consumers as gifts for which payment is not necessary. Finally, she would be required to pay $80,000 in consumer redress within seven days of the date the order is entered by the court.

The Stipulated Order For Permanent Injunction was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division in Chicago, on July 25, 2000.

NOTE: A Stipulated Order for Permanent Injunction is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. The stipulated order is subject to court approval and has the force of law when signed by the judge.

Copies of the Stipulated Order are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.

 

(Civil Action No. 99 C 7946)
(FTC Matter No. X000009)

Contact Information

Media Contact:
Brenda Mack,
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2182
Staff Contact:
C. Steven Baker or Todd Kossow
Midwest Region - Chicago Regional Office
312-960-5634