When websites prominently advertised “FREE!” golf balls and other gear, duffers and low-handicappers alike swung for the deal. But according to the FTC, 10 related defendants drove consumers into the rough with poorly disclosed terms and conditions, deceptive negative options, and misleading upsells, in violation of the FTC Act and the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act.
Blog Posts Tagged with Online Advertising and Marketing
Congress unanimously passed the Consumer Review Fairness Act to protect people’s ability to share in any forum their honest opinions about a business’ products, services, or conduct. Some companies had been using contract provisions – including their online terms and conditions – to threaten to sue consumers or penalize them financially for posting negative reviews or complaints. The new law makes that illegal.
The military community makes many of the same consumer decisions as their civilian counterparts. We all need to manage our money – and avoid rip-offs. But servicemembers and their families also face unique challenges, like frequent relocations and deployment. When a permanent change of station is on the horizon, a military family needs to rent or buy a new place to live, manage money while on the move, and be vigilant about dealing with businesses in an unfamiliar locale. A servicemember’s regular paycheck from Uncle Sam can make them a target for scammers.
A participant on a reality dating show who doesn’t tell the truth? So what’s new. A participant on a reality dating show who is a defendant in an FTC action and doesn’t tell the truth in a sworn financial statement? That’s a different story.
It’s a digital spin on an old-school business: an online service that offers to pay “top dollar” for consumers’ used smartphones, laptops, or tablets. The technology may be trending, but according to the FTC and the State of Georgia, Nevada-based Laptop & Desktop Repair engaged in a classic 20th century bait-and-switch – and bilked consumers out of millions in the process.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch. That’s what consumers who signed up for NutraClick’s “free” samples learned. But what can your business take away from the FTC’s settlement with NutraClick? If your company is considering offering a negative option program, and wants it to be a positive experience, you’ll want to read on.
The Internet of Things refers to consumer products that connect to the Internet to send and receive data – everything from fitness devices, wearables, and smart cars to connected smoke detectors, light bulbs, and refrigerators.
In the popular video game Shadow of Mordor, players don’t just randomly slash, hack, and pillage. They battle specific opponents through a feature known as the Nemesis System. In the FTC’s lawsuit against Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, truth in advertising had a nemesis: paid pitches for Shadow of Mordor that Warner Bros. deceptively claimed were independent reviews.
Online reviews and endorsements can be key to consumers’ decision-making. In fact, surveys show that over 70% of American consumers turn to online sources before making a purchase. Advertisers already should know about FTC principles for making sure that online reviews and endorsements are honest and not misleading.
We loved Scooby-Doo as much as the next person, but each episode seemed to end the same way. Just when Shaggy, Fred, Velma, and Daphne nabbed the culprit, he took off a mask to disclose his identity – or so we thought until he removed yet another mask to reveal who he really was.
In Amazon’s Appstore, many apps geared toward kids prompted them to use fictitious currency, like a “boatload of doughnuts” or a “can of stars,” as part of game play. But a federal district court recently agreed with the FTC that Amazon’s practice of charging cold, hard cash for those imaginary items and billing parents and account holders without their express informed consent violates Section 5 of the FTC Act.
Everyone has a job hunting horror story. Ours is the rejection letter we got on a Friday for a job interview scheduled for the following Monday. But a job interview that’s really just a sales pitch, often conducted by software designed to mimic a real person? A lawsuit against Gigats is the latest FTC action targeting deceptive practices in the lead generation industry.
Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting down for some Q&A with members of the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI), one of the leading self-regulatory organizations for the online, interest-based advertising industry. One of the questions they posed was what additional actions industry should be taking to address online tracking as it develops ever more complex technologies. My answer? Tell people how they’re being tracked and offer them easy-to-use tools to block all of the techniques used to track them.
We’ve all seen seething consumers – or been seething consumers – who learned that a prominently advertised offer didn’t reflect what they would actually have to pay. Playing fast and loose with price is a sure-fire way to put shoppers’ wallets in lock-down mode. That’s why savvy retailers are transparent in their practices.
Decades of FTC law enforcement offer practical guidance to help ensure your customers are clear about what something will cost:
Whether it’s mowing that extra patch of grass or alerting each other to an iffy-looking lurker, there’s a sense of security when next-door neighbors enjoy a cooperative relationship. The same holds true for international neighbors, as a new Memorandum of Understanding between the FTC and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) demonstrates.
It’s a fetching frock with spaghetti straps, an engineered paisley print, and an asymmetrical hemline.
It’s a phrase you see every now and then in announcements about FTC settlements: “The order includes a $___ judgment, which has been partially suspended based on the defendants’ inability to pay.” What happens if it turns out the defendants weren’t telling the truth about their financial condition? A ruling by a federal judge in Arizona explains the consequences.
Usually a Top 10 list is something industries are delighted to find themselves on. So we’ll call this one a Flop 10 list, the FTC’s annual report about consumer complaints added in 2015 to the Consumer Sentinel database. How did your industry – and your state – rank in reported complaints?
First, the box score:
Ever wonder what your employees are up to after hours? The answer might surprise you – and two cases filed by the FTC suggest a way you and your HR team might want to get involved.
British blues rockers Ten Year After had a hit back in the day with “Hear Me Calling.” We doubt they were thinking of the FTC’s ten-year regulatory review schedule – OK, they weren’t – but it’s likely at least one of the four rules up for review this year affects your business. Can you hear us calling and are you ready to weigh in?