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QVC Sues Former Star Host Over E-Mail

Television shopping network QVC Inc. is suing former host Kathy Levine, claiming she violated her contract by e-mailing QVC customers to promote her new apparel line just before it debuted on archrival Home Shopping Network.

In a suit filed in Chester County, PA, earlier this month, QVC alleges that Levine, who was a star host on the network for 14 years, violated QVC's privacy policy by sending e-mail to addresses she acquired at QVC for the HSN launch of her new line.

“We will not tolerate any deviation of our privacy policy. This was clearly a violation,” Bonnie Clark, vice president of public relations, QVC, West Chester, PA, was quoted in an Associated Press report as saying. Clark said customers complained to QVC about Levine's e-mail, according to AP. QVC claims in its privacy policy that it does not sell, rent or exchange customer information.

Contacted late in the afternoon yesterday, a QVC public relations representative verified that QVC is suing Levine but said she was unable to get a hold of Clark in time to answer further questions in time for DM News' daily deadline.

HSN, St. Petersburg, FL, is calling the suit a case of sour grapes. Spokesman Jon Gieselman would not offer specifics, other than that an e-mail promotion did go out touting the launch of Levine's new line to a list of undisclosed origin. He offered the following prepared statement from Levine:

“Kathy is deeply saddened that a company she loved and worked for her entire career would question her integrity and suggest that she would intentionally undermine their business,” Gieselman said.

Levine left QVC two years ago, reportedly because QVC would not let her sell her own creations. HSN, however, welcomed her designs, many of which were reportedly conceived during her years at QVC. Levine's target for the new “figure flattering” line, which launched Aug. 21, is women 40 and older looking for boutique-type clothes from $35 to $85.

HSN claims sales of $1.93 billion, and that it reaches 145 million households.

QVC is the market leader with reported sales of more than $3.9 billion.

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