BrandDirect Agrees to Settle Telemarketing Investigations

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BrandDirect Marketing Inc., Shelton, CT, last week said it agreed to pay $1.9 million to settle investigations into its telemarketing practices by the attorneys general in Washington and Connecticut.

The company, which markets branded membership clubs and other products and services to consumers, also will give all 2.7 million of its club customers three weeks of free membership as part of the settlement.

The states had accused BrandDirect of enrolling consumers in membership clubs without their permission as well as other practices, including charging some consumers for a trial service that was supposed to be free, failing to cancel memberships on demand, and failing to disclose limitations on the use of free gift premiums.

A spokesman for the Washington attorney general's office said the state launched the investigation after receiving complaints from consumers who alleged that their credit cards had been charged without their authorization. Washington asked Connecticut, where BrandDirect is based, to join the investigation.

BrandDirect agreed to the settlement without admitting guilt.

"We absolutely deny any wrongdoing," said Tom Drohan, a spokesman for BrandDirect. "We're making some changes in our messages that we feel will clarify things for consumers."

He declined to elaborate, other than to say that BrandDirect expects the changes to "set the standard for the industry."

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