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DMA REFERS TELEMARKETERS TO FEDERAL AND STATE ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
NEW YORK, NY, May 16, 2005 - The Direct Marketing Association's (The DMA) Teleservices Ethics Committee, acting on consumer complaints, has referred two separate companies, Premier Benefits and Fusion Telekom, to federal and state law enforcement agencies for possible action against the companies.
The DMA Teleservices Ethics Committee, an 11-member group made up of industry representatives, investigates consumer complaints about teleservice companies and develops guidelines and educational programs for ethical business practices within the teleservices industry. The Committee forwards cases to appropriate law enforcement agencies if it believes a violation of law may have occurred. If the accused company is a DMA member who violates the DMA Guidelines for Ethical Business Practices, it can also be referred to the organization's Board of Directors for public censure, suspension or expulsion.
"For the vast majority of complaints we receive, we are able to resolve the issues satisfactorily," said Patricia Kachura, senior vice president for ethics and consumer affairs at The DMA. "When we are unable to do so, our policy is to publicly announce the companies that fail to cooperate with our investigations or comply with The DMA's ethical guidelines."
The consumer complaint against Premier Benefits alleges that a telemarketing representative for Premier Benefits offered the consumer a "free" shopping spree and movie passes, but then attempted to obtain the consumer's bank account information in order to impose a processing charge. The company disregarded the consumer's request to be placed on the company's internal do-not-call list, calling back the next night with the same offer. DMA guidelines state that "free" offers from marketers must be exactly that - without cost or obligation to the consumer - and that a consumer's opt-out request should be honored.The New Mexico Attorney General, Patricia A. Madrid, recently warned consumers about Premier Benefits in a January 13, 2005 Scam Alert (http://www.ago.state.nm.us/pio/pressrel/2005/html/01-13-05_free_movie_pass.htm).
The DMA referred the case to the Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau, and the offices of the Attorney General in the states of California, New Jersey and New Mexico. The complaint that the Teleservices Ethics Committee received originated from a consumer in New Jersey. Premier Benefits is believed to be located in California, and is not a member of The DMA.
The consumer complaint against Fusion Telekom alleges that a Fusion Telekom representative telephoned the consumer with a solicitation and already had the correct last four digits of the consumer's credit card number. When the consumer inquired about where the company had obtained her personal information, she was treated rudely and her questions went unanswered. DMA guidelines require that companies tell consumers who ask the source from which they obtained the consumer's personally identifiable information.
The DMA referred the case against Fusion Telekom to the Federal Trade Commission, [and to] the Better Business Bureau and Office of Attorney General in the States of California, Florida, and Nevada. The complaint that the Teleservices Ethics Committee received originated from a consumer in the state of California. The call received by the complainant from Fusion Telekom is believed to have originated in Florida, and Fusion Telekom is believed to be headquartered in Nevada. The company is not a member of the DMA.
The DMA's Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice are available online at
Laura Colona 212.790.1532 firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephanie Hendricks 202.861.2407 email@example.com
The Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma.org) is the leading trade association for businesses and organizations interested in direct, interactive, and database marketing, which in 2004 generated more than $2.3 trillion in US sales, including $143.3 billion in catalog sales and $52.5 billion in Web-driven sales. In addition to catalogs and the Web, DMA members employ a wide variety of marketing media, including mail, e-mail, telephone, newspapers and magazines, interactive television, and radio, among others. Founded in 1917, The DMA today has more than 5,200 corporate, affiliate, and chapter members from the US and 44 other nations, including 55 companies listed on the Fortune 100. Reflecting the significant and growing role that direct marketing plays in today's advertising mix, The DMA's membership represents marketers from every business segment, including catalogers, Internet retailers, retail stores, nonprofit organizations, advertising agencies, financial services providers, book and magazine publishers, book and music clubs, industrial manufacturers, and a host of other vertical segments, as well as the service industries that support marketers.