An online marketer settled FTC charges against it by agreeing to provide consumer-friendly disclosures and paying $200K to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In addition to allegedly violating the CAN-SPAM Act by sending spam e-mails, the company was accused of advertising free products that in fact required consumers to jump through a bunch of hoops by paying for other products or services or otherwise incurring obligations (such as having to apply for credit cards) in order to receive the “free” gifts.
What’s the importance of this decision? It emphasizes that the federal government will continue to make examples of those who engage in anti-consumer practices. As a general rule, there’s nothing wrong with offers that contain “free” products or services. But that requires clear disclosures so that no one is fooled into thinking the offer has no strings attached. In addition, one needs to pay special attention to the laws governing unsolicited commercial email (spam). No one likes spam. It is bad marketing and it is against the law.
If you have questions about what is legal and isn’t, you should consult your Internet attorney before engaging in an activity online. It doesn’t do your business good to make a profit selling something only to have it taken away in government fines and legal fees defending yourself from allegations of wrongdoing.
Hat tip to InfoWorld.