FTC, Visa, Better Business Bureau warn about deceptive Web marketing

Share this article:

The Federal Trade Commission, Visa and the Better Business Bureau are warning consumers about deceptively designed “negative option” Web marketing and e-mail offers.

The groups are partnering to warn consumers about, in particular, free trial offers that require a cancellation or opt-out. In such cases, a company takes a consumer's failure to cancel a free trial offer, often located in e-mail or Web-based promotions, as permission to begin charging for a service or a monthly fee.

The FTC said in a statement that some merchants use this practice appropriately, but others hide details in fine print or terms and conditions, or make cancellations or returns difficult.

The organizations, which announced the initiative on December 17, told consumers that they can report complaints to the FTC, a local BBB office or to Visa. Visa launched a microsite with frequently asked questions about the deceptive online marketing practice, tips for customers to avoid negative options and contact info for reporting problems with marketers.

“Free trail marketing can be convenient for consumers – if the terms are clearly spelled out beforehand,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement. “Legitimate marketers don't hide critical information about costs or cancellation policies to get their customers to agree to future changes.”

Representatives from Visa and the BBB could not be immediately reached for comment. A FTC spokesperson said that an agency representative was not available because government offices are shut down due to inclement weather.

Share this article:
You must be a registered member of Direct Marketing News to post a comment.

Follow us on Twitter @dmnews

Latest Jobs:

Featured Listings

More in Digital Marketing

Target Better With Facebook, Sandberg Tells Marketers

Target Better With Facebook, Sandberg Tells Marketers

In earnings call, the COO claims Facebook is 44% more accurate than the industry average at targeting and promises increasing investment in ad tech.

Day One on the DMA2014 Show Floor

Day One on the DMA2014 Show Floor

Sprouting from the Direct Marketing Association convention today were retargeting refinements, rules for breach behavior, and, yes, some darn fine Brussels sprouts.

Customer Identity in the Digital Age

Customer Identity in the Digital Age

Industry experts explore the value in a person's cyber identity for marketers.