Under the terms of court orders announced by the Federal Trade Commission today, two companies telemarketing Dish Network programming have agreed to pay a total of $95,000 for calling consumers whose telephone numbers are on the National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry and for illegally abandoning calls.
The orders, filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on the FTC's behalf, also bar the defendant corporations, Planet Earth Satellite, Inc. and Star Satellite, LLC, as well as their presidents, from violating the Commission's Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) when calling consumers.
"These settlements reemphasize that we expect marketers to comply with the Telemarketing Sales Rule," said Lydia Parnes, Director of the Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "But, if or when they don't, the FTC will take action to protect consumers' privacy."
The complaint against Planet Earth charges that the company and its president violated the DNC Rules by illegally calling consumers whose phone numbers are on the DNC Registry. Planet Earth, an Arizona company, marketed Dish Network programming.
The complaint against Star Satellite charges that the defendants violated the Do Not Call provisions of the TSR by abandoning outbound telemarketing calls to consumers, because they failed to connect the call to a live telemarketer within two seconds after a consumer answers. The complaint also alleges that the company, its president, and additional defendants named solely for purposes of relief, were unjustly enriched to the extent that they received funds from unlawful practices. Star Satellite is a Utah company.
The court orders entered against the defendants settle the Commission's charges in both cases. The order against the Planet Earth defendants prohibits them from calling consumers whose phone numbers are on the DNC Registry. The order also prohibits the defendants from violating other provisions of the TSR, and includes monitoring terms to ensure their compliance.
Based on their inability to pay more, the order required the Planet Earth defendants to pay $20,000 as a civil penalty, and suspends a judgment of more than $7 million. However, if the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition to the FTC, the entire amount will become due.
The order against Star Satellite and its president bars them from abandoning any outbound telephone calls to consumers by failing to connect the call to a live telemarketer within
two seconds after a consumer answers. The order also prohibits these defendants from violating other provisions of the TSR, and includes monitoring terms to ensure their compliance. Moreover, the order enters a judgment of $4.37 million against the Star Satellite defendants, and requires the relief defendants to disgorge $56,665. However, due to the defendants' inability to pay, the total combined payments by defendants and relief defendants is $75,000 - including the $56,665 in disgorgement. If the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition to the FTC, the entire amount will become due.
The stipulated final orders announced today end the FTC's litigation against the following defendants: 1) Planet Earth Satellite, Inc., doing business as (d/b/a) Teichert Marketing, and Thomas Teichert, individually and as an officer of Planet Earth Satellite, Inc.; and 2) Star Satellite, LLC, d/b/a Tenaya Marketing, Walter Eric Myers, individually and as an officer of Star Satellite, LLC, and various relief defendants.
The Commission vote authorizing the filing of the complaints and stipulated final orders in consent of the court actions was 4-0. They were filed by the DOJ on behalf of the FTC in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada on June 19, 2008 (Star Satellite), and the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on July 14, 2008 (Planet Earth).
NOTE: Stipulated orders are for settlement purposes only and do not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. A stipulated final order requires approval by the court and has the force of law when signed by the judge.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC's Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.
(FTC File No. 052-3167; Civ. Nos. 2:08-cv-00797-RLH-LRL and 08-1274-PHX)