February 19, 1999
FTC, Attorneys General Target Telemarketers
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has cooperated with the Federal Trade Commission, Washington, and Attorneys General from Illinois and Indiana in bringing four law enforcement actions against telemarketing sales firms in Chicago for allegedly shipping unordered business supplies to small companies and organizations and then charging a restocking fee when the recipients call to complain. "These are not sophisticated schemes," said FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection director Jodie Bernstein. "They're as simple as picking a pocket, and every bit as illegal. We hope that charities, nonprofits and small businesses will assert the right that every company has: you don't have to pay for supplies you didn't order -- you can treat unordered merchandise as a gift." Published reports said the scams almost always target small companies with calls to offer cleaning supplies that often do not require previous authorization by senior management. The companies charged are said to operate from centers in the suburbs of Chicago.