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continuity program

Internet Lawyer: Dead Tree Deception

By Internet Lawyer

Although an Internet lawyer, I’m a bit old-fashioned because I like to read the dead tree (print) edition of the Wall Street Journal in the morning while having a cup of coffee.

So I wasn’t surprised as a subscriber to get an “Urgent Account Status” notice in the mail today. I figured that the subscription must be coming up for renewal.

Unfortunately, that was not the case. The “urgent” problem was a cross-sell pitch for the online edition of the newspaper.

In addition, the cross-sell pitch was a low-ball introductory offer. In fine print at the bottom (about half the size of the smallest print in the pitch itself) was the disclosure that this was a continuity program where I’d be paying more automatically for online subscription renewals.

Good marketing does not require lying about urgency or account status. Good marketing does not include fine print hiding Internet continuity programs either.

Don’t make the same mistake as the no-talent @ss clowns marketing the Wall Street Journal Online Edition. Treat your prospects and your existing clients with respect.

To your success!

-Mike the Internet Lawyer

P.S. Speaking of fine print, when I created Website Legal Forms Generator software,  I made sure that website owners who used it were able to create easy-to-read website legal documents. Transparency and ethics is a must for your long-term business success online or offline.

Internet Lawyer: Micro-CONtinuity Scams Abusing a Good Idea

By Internet Lawyer

scams micro continuityNow that forced and hidden continuity programs are getting such a bad reputation online, as an Internet lawyer, I’m seeing the the latest fad is microcontinuity. Specifically, selling website visitors on a limited time program, such as a 3-month webinar series with monthly payments automatically pulled from the client’s credit card each month.

The big selling point for micro-continuity is that it provides clients with definite pricing. In the preceding example, a 3-month webinar series billed in 3 equal installments of $29.97 would result in gross profits of $89.91 (29.97 * 3).

And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this if the terms are clearly disclosed. Indeed, this can be an attractive offer when one includes bonuses that exceed the value of the purchase price.

So what’s the catch?

The same scam artists who abused continuity to begin with apply the same techniques to con people using microcontinuity scams.

Although your Internet lawyer can map it out for you, here’s how it typically works…

The offer contains a micro-continuity program plus several valuable bonuses. However, hidden within the bonuses or in the fine print on the order page is a “free trial” of an ongoing continuity program. In addition to buying the micro-continuity, the client unwittingly buys into another continuity program where billing starts when the free trial ends (usually in 14 or 30 days).

The key legal issue is full disclosure. If the average client wouldn’t understand that there’s a second continuity program triggered with the purchase of the micro-continuity program, that’s a sign the sales copy and ordering process is deceptive.

Don’t ruin your reputation by pulling a stunt like this or promoting these types of scams as an affiliate. It is a question of when, not if, the Federal Trade Commission cracks down on this misconduct. You don’t want to be the target. And if the FTC doesn’t come knocking, maybe you’ll have an unhappy client retain an Internet lawyer to deal with it.

Should Affiliate Marketers Be Liable For What They Promote?

By Internet Lawyer

affiliate marketers hanging togetherShady Internet marketers continue to push the envelope when promoting continuity programs. A typical example from last week involves a marketer who wraps himself in his religion* as a way to dupe prospective clients and affiliates into thinking that he’s an honest guy.

This particular marketer is smart but don’t confuse intelligence with ethics. He’s the moral equivalent of a spammer.

What did he do? Read More

Forced Continuity, Negative Word-of-Mouth Marketing, and the FTC

By Internet Lawyer

There’s a reputable direct response marketing organization that has generated a firestorm of negative publicity with its forced continuity program. You can read more about the particular incident at the Copywriters Board and the Warrior Forum. Monthly billing under a forced continuity program was purportedly instituted without full disclosure of the programs existence to purchasers of the initial product that triggered the continuity program after a free trial period.

Let me disclose at the outset that I’m a big fan of the organization in question and was shocked to read about this incident.

If the accusations are true, the organization is exposing itself to legal liability through the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), states’ attorneys general bureaus of consumer protection, and even private lawsuits. Personally, I’m hoping that the prior track record of providing valuable content will dissuade anyone from instigating such proceedings.

Yet even if the organization is not held accountable by law for the alleged misconduct, there the negative word-of-mouth negative publicity serves as judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to sales. The information will not be erased from the Internet — and it will result in lost sales. That’s a shame because there’s a lot of valuable offline and online marketing information one can learn from the organization.

While forced continuity appears to be the flavor of the day for marketing because of profitability, it will probably take the FTC to come down hard on someone for deceptive trade practices before the methods of marketing such programs are cleaned up. If they decide to pick a marketer to make an example of, I just hope it isn’t the one at the center of this controversy.