The Direct Marketing Association's Committee on Ethical Business Practices conducted 30 investigations from January to June 2004, according to its Ethics Case Report released today.
Of the 30 ethics cases detailed in the report, two specifically were named and referred to government entities for handling.
Remove.org, a company that the DMA claimed misled consumers about the effectiveness of its mailing list removal service, did not respond to the committee. The case was closed and forwarded to the Federal Trade Commission.
Zuvio.com, a search site, was cited by the committee for changing consumers' home pages to its company page without permission. That case also was closed due to lack of response, and the committee sent it to the California attorney general's office.
Neither firm referred to law enforcement is a DMA member.
“We do what we can to resolve the case for non-members, but if we can't resolve it, we will pass it along to the proper authority,” said Pat Faley Kachura, DMA vice president for ethics and consumer affairs. “We don't know what course of action they will take.”
The other 28 cases covered nine involving general advertising and business issues; 12 collection, use and maintenance of marketing data cases; five online marketing cases and two telemarketing cases. Twenty-three were rectified to the committee's satisfaction and closed. Five are pending further action.
A component was added to the current version of the ethics report. It is a section in which the committee touts ethical practices based on the association's guidelines. Topics covered pertain to the cases included in the report and replace the more detailed descriptions of each case that used to be included.
“What we are trying to do is make it more meaningful for the average direct marketer,” Faley Kachura said. “The details of any particular case might not be that important, but I think the overall messages and issues that the committee has seen an upturn in is important to highlight.”
She said the top three practices in the report that the committee thought needed to be reinforced were for marketers to be clear when disclosing details of all offers, to ensure outer envelope copy is not misleading and that marketers honor opt-out requests and maintain in-house suppression files for customers and prospects.
The DMA Ethics Case Report is released twice yearly.