On her Control album, Janet Jackson posed the musical question, “What have you done for me lately?” It’s a fair question for small businesses to ask the FTC and the most recent answer would be “Sent 29,333 refund checks averaging $396 and totaling $11.6 million to companies and nonprofits tricked into paying invoices – unvoices, really – for merchandise they didn’t order.” While we’re on the subject, t
Blog Posts Tagged with Advertising and Marketing Basics
Do consumers notice consumer class action notices? That’s one of the topics that experts will discuss at an upcoming FTC workshop on issues related to communicating with consumers about class actions.
Colleges are known for team sports, but it’s an unfortunate fact that consumer deception can be a team sport, too. A proposed FTC settlement with Career Education Corporation, American InterContinental University, Colorado Technical University, and related defendants alleges they used illegal game plans to lure consumers to their post-secondary and vocational schools.
According to musical legend, a buddy of songwriter Jim Weatherly commented that his girlfriend was leaving on the “midnight plane to Houston.” The buddy was Lee Majors of Six Million Dollar Man fame and his girlfriend (and later wife) was actress Farrah Fawcett. Mr. Weatherly filed the phrase away and later used it as inspiration for his megahit, Midnight Train to Georgia.
How do repair restrictions for tech devices, appliances, cars, etc., affect consumers and small businesses? What are the arguments for and against? And what’s the fix? Those are topics of Nixing the Fix: A Workshop on Repair Restrictions – and it’s set to start soon. At 12:30 ET today, you can watch the live webcast.
Coldplay sang “Fix You,” but if the group had been referring to their tech devices, cars, or other products in need of repair, their efforts could have consumer protection ramifications. A July 16, 2019, FTC event, Nixing the Fix: A Workshop on Repair Restrictions, will focus on the state of the repair marketplace. Are manufacturers making it difficult (or even impossible) for consumers or independent shops to make product repairs?
Whether you’re taking the midnight train to Georgia, a quick trip on MARTA, or a drive around the Perimeter on your way to one of the many Peachtree Streets, meet us in Atlanta on Thursday, August 15, 2019, for Green Lights & Red Flags: FTC Rules of the Road for Business.
Humphrey Bogart said it in “The African Queen” and it was a catchphrase popularized by Jon Lovitz on “Saturday Night Live.” But to the FTC, That’s the Ticket is the name of a June 11, 2019, workshop to explore consumer protection issues related to online ticket sales – and the agenda is out now.
Their lines of work are as different as can be: an HVAC and electrical contractor, a flooring seller, and a company that takes people on horseback rides. But according to the FTC, they have one thing in common. They all violated the Consumer Review Fairness Act. Read on for details about the FTC’s first cases solely enforcing the CRFA, the form contract provisions the FTC says contravened the law, and tips for keeping your contracts CRFA-compliant.
Where do entrepreneurs go if they’re long on ideas, but short on capital? In their short history, crowdfunding platforms have often been the financial sparkplug that ignites the engine of innovation. But some campaigners promote zealously and deliver zilch. According to the FTC, a company raised over $800,000 in four crowdfunding campaigns for a high-tech backpack and other items, but used a large portion of the money on personal expenses.
Remember the old Superman movie where the Man of Steel squeezed carbon in his hand to create a diamond? That’s not how it’s done, but these days not everything sparkly comes from a mine. In addition to mined diamonds, consumers can choose simulated diamonds or diamonds created in a laboratory. What matters to consumers – and the FTC – is that companies accurately describe what they’re selling.
It’s an illegal practice the FTC has challenged for decades: companies convincing consumers to pay for “repairs” on products that don’t really need fixing. The FTC alleges that Office Depot and service vendor Support.com engaged in a 21st century version of that misleading tactic. According to the complaint, the defendants tricked customers into spending millions on repairs by deceptively claiming they had found malware symptoms or infections on consumers’ computers.
First, the bad news: That nifty purchase needs a repair. Now the good news for consumers: It’s still under warranty. But where can they go to get it fixed? Can the manufacturer restrict a consumer’s ability to go to the independent repair shop of their choice? Can the manufacturer use glue, non-standard screws, and proprietary diagnostic software that make it difficult for independent repair shops to fix things?
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the FTC staff released a Data Spotlight highlighting the category of scam with the highest amount of reported financial loss among complaint categories the FTC uses to track fraud. The category may surprise, but here’s a hint. In the words of Bon Jovi, these con artists “give love a bad name.”
Steely Dan may be one of the best duos of the rock era. (Sorry, Donnie and Marie fans.) Their song “Hey Nineteen” reminds us to mention some FTC consumer protection developments that could be of interest to your company or clients in 2019. As “Any Major Dude Will Tell You,” when you’re “Reelin’ in the Years” – or at least recapping the past one – consider this non-exhaustive and in-no-particular-order case compilation.
When the FTC warns consumers about government imposter scams, we’re usually referring to bogus calls that falsely claim to come from the IRS or some other official office. But as a case just announced by the FTC demonstrates, that’s not the only kind of false government affiliation that can deceive consumers.
Here’s something likely to make consumers start firing on all cylinders: receiving an “URGENT RECALL NOTICE” in the mail with a “warning” that their vehicle “may be under an important factory/safety recall.” But according to an FTC lawsuit against the Passport group of car dealerships in the Washington, D.C., area, the vast majority of people who received those notices didn’t have a vehicle subject to an open recall.
We’ll grudgingly give this to Innovative Paycheck Solutions and FakePayStubOnline.com.
As the song goes, “A house is not a home.” And as alleged in an FTC lawsuit against the operators of rental listing websites, sometimes an apartment isn’t an apartment.