DMA Cites 2 Companies on Ethics Violations

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The Direct Marketing Association said yesterday it has charged two companies with violating its Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice. The announcement was part of the association's ethics report for the second half of 2002, which highlights 30 cases handled against DMA member and non-member companies.


The companies charged are No More Mail, Wheeling, IL, and Operation Hang-Up, Washington, DC.


The report highlighted cases handled by the Committee on Ethical Business Practice and the Teleservices Ethics Operating Committee.


The Committee on Ethical Business Practice reviewed five online promotions, including two promotions from companies that did not resolve the committee's concerns.


According to the DMA report, No More Mail did not resolve committee concerns regarding disclosure of limitations of its services. The committee viewed No More Mail's Web site claims that consumers who sign up for its services will be removed from specific mailing and telephone marketing lists to be inaccurate and misleading. Marketers are not obligated to accept name-removal requests not sent to them by consumers themselves. The company amended its service agreement to indicate it could not guarantee the honoring of removal requests; however, the committee communicated to the company that it believed more prominent disclosure in other areas of the Web site was needed.


Operation Hang-Up, according to the report, did not respond to committee concerns regarding its claims that payment of a $29 fee "stops telemarketing calls, guaranteed." The company sent listings of telephone numbers to companies, including some nonprofits, along with name-removal instructions to follow. Federal laws requiring company do-not-call lists were referenced. The committee viewed both the material on the company's Web site and the instructions to industry members as deceptive; the case was forwarded to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.


Both committees also heard three additional online marketing cases, six cases regarding teleservices issues, 10 general advertising cases, and nine cases regarding privacy. All of these cases were resolved to the committees' satisfaction or are still under review.


The entire Ethics Case Report can be found at www.the-dma.org/guidelines/ethicscase.pdf.


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