MPA Proposes Guidelines to Assuage FTC Complaints

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The Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) has proposed Guidelines on Relations with Subscription Agents to prevent violations of statutes and rules governing telemarketing by independent sales representatives.


The guidelines were proposed to appease concerns by the Federal Trade Commission regarding the level of consumer complaints relating to magazine subscription telemarketing sales. The MPA recommends adoption of the guidelines by its 190 domestic members, which publish about 780 magazines, as well as non-member publishers and authorized subscription agents.


Agents are requested in the guidelines to take reasonable steps to ensure that telephone representatives follow 10 specific rules that generally paraphrase the key provisions of the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule.


The guidelines provide that every agent, subagent, or sub-subagent must be identified by name and federal EIN or social security number, which must be submitted to the publisher, and that the publisher has the right to direct that any agent be dropped from the list. Agents are asked to agree that they will "prevent the use of false or deceptive selling methods to solicit magazine subscription orders, and that they will diligently monitor the activities of their salespersons (excluding salespersons who submit subscription orders to subagents and third parties if these monitoring responsibilities have been delegated to those subagents and third parties)."


The MPA intends to obtain an agreement among publishers that they will implement these guidelines uniformly and simultaneously.


--By Nadine M. Kjellberg

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