Michigan AG 'Doubtful' That Remove.org Can Back Claims

Share this content:
While Remove.org, a service claiming to block unwanted e-mail pitches and telemarketing for $9.95 per year, maintains that its troubles with Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox stem from an erroneous report on MSNBC, Cox's office stands by its assertion that Remove.org is making false claims, including that it is a nonprofit.

Cox's office earlier this month warned that it might sue Remove.org for up to $25,000 under Michigan's Consumer Protection Act unless Remove.org substantiates claims made on its site or reaches an agreement with Cox.

Charles David, Remove.org's marketing director, called Cox's charge that Remove.org falsely claims to be a nonprofit "one of the most irresponsible statements I've ever heard in my life. And if they would read the IRS tax code, they would realize that we absolutely have the right to operate and are recognized as a nonprofit organization."

Cox's office, however, maintains that Remove.org is not a nonprofit.

"They're not registered with the IRS. The application process would be a public document as well. And none of that is available, or can be found to be in existence," Cox spokesman Sage Eastman said. "So unless they provide us with some documentation, we are not satisfied at all that they are operating in a charitable manner."

MSNBC.com ran a skeptical story Remove.org July 30 that David claims erroneously questioned its nonprofit status.

David said that executives from his organization responded to Cox's office almost immediately after being notified they were under the attorney general's scrutiny, and that they believed they answered most of Cox's questions. But unbeknownst to Remove.org, according to David, Cox's office already had issued a press release attacking the organization.

"There's obviously some kind of political gain from making everybody feel warm and fuzzy that they're protecting them from people they don't need to be protected from," David said.

According to David, Remove.org maintains a list of members' e-mail addresses, including the state their owners live in and whether children have access to the addresses.

"With those two key pieces of information, we can get any irresponsible marketer shut off [using existing state regulations]," he said.

But Cox's office maintains that Remove.org's claims of effectiveness, such as that it would contact "all ... current and future marketers," and that members of Remove.org will have "No more annoying and offensive spam," were drastically overstated.

David said that the claims in question have been removed.

"I am not going to disagree with their objections to some of the wording on that," he said. "Obviously nobody can promise that they're going to stop all [spam] ... So we have removed that statement."

Copy on the Web site says: "Remove.[o]rg actively pursues irresponsible marketers who continue to send solicitations or adult related material to our members. We communicate with State Attorney Generals, Better Business Bureaus, the United States Post Office, the Federal Trade Commission, Telephone and Communications Companies, Internet Service Providers, and Law Enforcement Agencies. Marketers who do not follow state and federal laws are subject to penalties, fines, and are often times shut down."

Eastman, however, indicated that it would take more than a few deletions to satisfy Cox.

"You can't advertise a Ford Focus as a Lamborghini," he said. "Saying that tweaking a few things in the ad price would all of a sudden reveal that it really is a Focus is a gross understatement. We're going to want to see some substantial movement from them or some substantial evidence that they're doing what they claim. It is doubtful at this point that they can produce either."

As for Cox's charge that Remove.org falsely claimed its main office was at a Washington, DC, address that in reality belongs to a Mail Boxes Etc./UPS store, David said that though Remove.org is headquartered in Oregon, it published the Washington address for safety reasons because spammers can get nasty.

Near the end of last week when this story was filed, Cox's office had given Remove.org until Aug. 22 to respond to some outstanding, unspecified charges.

"We have given them a list of questions we would like answered," Eastman said. "They are in the process of responding to them."

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

We recently were named B2B Magazine's Direct Marketing Agency of the Year, and with good reason: We make real, measureable, positive change happen for our clients. A full-service agency founded in 1974, Bader Rutter expertly helps you get the right message to the right audience at the right time through the right channels. As we engage our clients' audiences along their journey, direct marketing (email, direct mail, phone, SMS) and behavioral marketing (SEM, retargeting, contextual) channels deliver information relevant to the needs of each stage. We are experts at implementing and leveraging marketing technologies such as CRM and marketing automation in order to synchronize sales and marketing communications. Our team of architects and activators plan, execute, measure and adjust in real time to ensure the strategy is working as needed and change things if it's not.

Find out more here »

Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here

Relive the 2017 Marketing Hall of Femme

Click the image above