Michigan Files Cramming Charges

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The Michigan Attorney General's office charged a Pennsylvania firm yesterday with engaging in "cramming," the act of using telemarketing to add unauthorized charges to consumer telephone bills.

Mercury Marketing, which also did business as Venus Voice Mail Services and Mercury Internet, telemarketed Internet services including Web page design and hosting and toll-free voice mail services, the attorney general's office said. In calls to consumers, Mercury telemarketers said that they only were trying to "obtain information" and not sales, according to the charges.

After the call, consumers received a mailer bearing small print informing them that unless they canceled they would receive a monthly charge on their phone bill for services, the attorney general's office said. Mercury made it difficult for consumers to cancel or to receive refunds after they were charged, according to the attorney general's office.

The attorney general's office said it received 47 complaints from consumers about Mercury. The Federal Trade Commission took action against Mercury in 2000, also on charges of cramming, the attorney general's office said.


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