Budget request and GPRA Performance Plans submission to Congress: The Commission has approved the following documents and forwarded a copy of each to Congress: 1) the FTC’s FY 2005 Budget Overview Statement; 2) the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) Performance Plans for 2004 and 2005; and 3) an Update of the President’s Management Agenda Exhibit. The overview statement describes the agency’s recent activities, as well as the FTC’s requested FY 2005 resource needs. The FTC’s formal budget request was submitted to Congress on February 2, 2004, simultaneous with the President’s submission of the FY 2005 budget for the U.S. government. The performance plans describe how the FTC will carry out the goals and objectives outlined in its five-year GPRA Strategic Plan. The performance plans comprise an integral part of the FTC’s FY 2005 budget request. The management agenda exhibit contains the FTC’s strategy for improving the management of its operations, in accordance with the Presidential Management Agenda. The Commission vote to submit the budget request, performance plans, and management agenda exhibit to Congress was 5-0. (FTC File No. P010101; the staff contact is Henry Hoffman, FTC Chief Financial Officer, 202-326-2664.)
Commission approval of final consent orders: Following a public comment period, the Commission has approved a final consent order with America Online, Inc. and its subsidiary, CompuServe Interactive Services, Inc., settling charges that they engaged in two separate unfair practices. The first allegation involves AOL’s practice of continuing to bill AOL Internet service subscribers after they had asked to cancel their subscriptions. The other allegation involves the late delivery of $400 rebates to consumers who signed up for CompuServe Internet service.
The final consent order requires AOL and CompuServe to establish and maintain appropriate measures for ensuring that subscribers’ requests for cancellation are promptly processed and that billing ceases. It prohibits them from charging any subscriber who asks to be cancelled and is recorded as having agreed to continue his or her service (“recorded as saved”), unless they first obtain the subscriber’s express informed consent to the continued billing. The companies also must send confirmation notices to subscribers who ask to be cancelled but who are recorded as saved. Furthermore, the order prohibits AOL and CompuServe from failing to provide any rebate offered in connection with Internet or online service within the times they specify or, if no time is specified, within 30 days.
The Commission vote to approve the final order was 5-0. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of $11,000. Thus, a violation of this consent order by AOL or CompuServe may result in a civil penalty of $11,000 for each violation. (FTC File No. 002-3000; staff contact is Michael F. Ostheimer, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2699; see press release dated September 23, 2003.)
Following a public comment period, the Commission has approved a final consent order in the matter concerning Tenet Healthcare Corporation and Frye Regional Medical Center, Inc.’s participation in a matter involving Piedmont Health Alliance. The Commission vote approving the final consent order was 5-0. (FTC File No. 021-0119; the staff contact is David Narrow, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2549; see press release dated December 24, 2003).
Commission approval of consent in settlement of court action: The Commission has approved a stipulated final consent order in settlement of charges filed against Leslie Anderson through “Operation Protection Deception” in 2000. The FTC’s complaint against Anderson and several other defendants, collectively referred to as First Capital Consumers Group, alleged the defendants violated Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule while telemarketing advance-fee credit cards to U.S. consumers. Under the terms of the order, Anderson is permanently barred from engaging in, participating in, or assisting others in the telemarketing of any product or service to any consumer in the United States. He also is permanently barred from selling credit-related products, programs, or services to U.S. consumers and from making a variety of credit-related misrepresentations in connection with the advertising or sale of any product or service to consumers in the United States. Finally, Anderson is required to pay the FTC $250,000 within seven days of the entry of the stipulated final order to be used for consumer redress. The order also contains an avalanche clause that would require him to pay $8.3 million if he is found to have misrepresented his financial condition, and provides for FTC monitoring to ensure his compliance with the order.
The Commission vote approving the consent in settlement of the court action regarding the individual defendant in this Canadian telemarketing enterprise was 5-0. Last week, the Commission also received a default order for permanent injunction and final judgment against the remaining defendants in this matter: 1492828 Ontario Inc., 1533649 Ontario Inc., David Galglish, Lloyd Prudenza, and Mark Lennox. The FTC was assisted in this case by the Toronto Strategic Partnership. (FTC File No. X030001; Civ. No. 02-C-7456; the staff contact is Karen D. Dodge, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 312-960-5608; see press release dated October 30, 2000.)
Copies of the documents mentioned in this release 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, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.