A new report today on the U.S. Government's investigation of some unscrupulous marketing practices by some web companies has them running scared. The report cites the marketers (Affinion, Vertue and Webloyalty) for practices that members of the U.S. Sentate are calling "scams."
Consumers are mislead into signing up for "loyalty" programs, for big advertisers, such as Priceline, Classmates.com, FTD, Shutterfly, Orbitz, Continental Airlines, and many more. Thousands of complaints, going back years, were filed, stating that these companies tricked people into signing up for monthly programs that would charge their credit cards for membership services they did not know about and did not want.
Shockingly, these retailers are blaming consumers for the snafu, saying they did not read the fine-print before signing up for coupons, rebates and other offers -- which, at first glance, had no catch.
These customers were then charged a $10 to $20 monthly fee to stay enrolled in the program -- which took many by surprise.
The government says at least 30 million consumers were unaware that they were signing up for a monthly-fee-based program.
One legal analyst says that the people who knowingly sign up for these programs is less than 5%. The disclaimers on these pages are often hidden in lengthy Terms and Conditions or other large blocks of text that most consumers simply skip over.
In spite of the government's investigation and subsequent report, these unscrupulous companies and their practices are still continuing -- and continue to mislead consumers today.