The board of directors of the Chicago Association of Direct Marketers recently approved a new code of conduct for the first time since the early 1980s.
The new code allows marketers to use information collected in an ongoing relationship with a customer but says they cannot share the data with other firms unless consumers have a chance to opt out.
Failure to comply could lead to termination of membership.
The code was rewritten to reflect massive changes in the direct marketing business, according to the CADM.
Association president Mitchell Lieber said, “Sometimes it is very difficult to determine what is ethical in today's complex environment. Where should the line be drawn? What's the standard? CADM's code of conduct draws that line, creating a convention, using current practice as a foundation.”
The new code is based on the assumption that both buyers and marketers have reasonable rights, Lieber said. Marketers have the right to conduct business and to collect information to market to and serve customers better, while buyers have the right to fair representations of products and services and to proper follow-through once they order. The code requires members to make a refund promptly or to replace a product if it is unsatisfactory.
The new code also states that:
· Buyers have the right to expect that all visual and written depictions of a product or service, its features and benefits are true and accurate and live up to the expectations created by the marketer.
· Buyers have the right to expect that all purchases are sent at their request and are delivered in a timely fashion and in good condition, and they have their choice of a prompt refund or replacement if dissatisfied.
· Marketers should only collect data about the buyer that are pertinent to an ongoing relationship with the buyer and that do not exceed accepted privacy standards.
· Marketers may use information collected to facilitate the making of additional offers that may interest the buyer.
· Marketers may offer collected information to other marketers for offers that may be of interest to the buyer, provided that buyers are given the opportunity to inform marketers to do otherwise.
· Buyers have the right to remedies for failures to act ethically on the part of member firms by contacting the CADM board to seek mediation of disputes.