The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “the Commission”) has clearly subscribed to enforcing ROSCA recently.  On Tuesday, the FTC filed a complaint against DIRECTV’s negative option program and contract pricing structure under Section 5 of the FTC Act and ROSCA.

In the complaint, the FTC alleged that DIRECTV required customers to agree to a mandatory 24-month contract to receive television programming; customers who canceled their subscriptions before 24 months were charged an early cancellation fee.  Although the rates were set at a specific monthly charge for the first year of a 2-year customer agreement, in the second year of the agreement, the FTC alleged that DIRECTV would increase the monthly charges by 50-70% higher than customers paid in the first year.  After the first year of the agreement, customers either had to pay significant cancellation fees or pay the higher monthly price.  
Continue Reading FTC Dishes Out ROSCA Complaint with Focus on Disclosures

Looking back 2014 was a year of increased government scrutiny and compliance obligations for lead generators and online marketers, and so, for 2015, advertisers will need to ramp up compliance.  Avoiding banned terms, better use of disclosures, and other web and contact center compliance enhancements – with at least some reports of 66% of website URLs containing a potential compliance violation – should be a priority for the New Year.

At least, that’s what marketing compliance company PerformLine revealed last week in its infographic titled “Compliance Trends to Watch Out for in 2015.”  The infographic is part of its periodic overview of its research on websites and “contact centers” using “banned” compliance terms or missing “required” disclosures.  The infographic shows that 66% of credit monitoring sites, 72% of credit card sites, and 91% of finance sites contain potential compliance violations.  The company didn’t release more detailed breakdowns, but it did pinpoint certain keywords and disclosures as areas of concern.

One area that caught our attention was the identified a lack of required disclosures as one of its “Five Issues Causing Potential Violations.”  As we have written previously, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has placed renewed emphasis on clear disclosures in its Disclosures Guides, and marketers’ ability to use fine print disclosures may be going the way of the dodo.  However, with high rates of non-compliance across all industries measured, it appears marketers may still be struggling with how to create clear and conspicuous online disclosures without detracting from the marketing message.Continue Reading Compliance Trends for Online Marketers

That’s perhaps exactly what the FTC tried to avoid by bringing two new auto disclosure enforcement actions late last week.  Both actions seek to enforce existing orders, though in the one instance the parties agreed to settle while in the other the parties will have their day in court.  The FTC has been coming down hard on auto dealers of late and these two cases are no exception.

Both cases focused on the need for and adequacy of disclosures regarding automobile sale, leasing, and rebate offers.  According to the FTC’s complaints, the defendants failed to adequately disclose certain terms and conditions including the following:Continue Reading FTC Puts More Governors on Auto Disclosures

Edwards' DodoThe fine print disclosure is as iconic as the Yankees, Mom and Apple Pie.  But pity the poor disclosure as it’s had a rough time of late.  First, the FTC came out with its revised disclosures (read about those here)  In general they advocated clearer and more prominent disclaimers and also asked advertisers to think hard about whether the information should be in the body of the claim itself rather than in a disclosure.

Now the FTC has turned its attention to disclosures on television and print advertising.  “Operation Full Disclosure” resulted in warning letters being sent to 20 of the largest 100 advertisers in the country (and 60 companies overall) alerting them to the fact that the FTC believes they failed to make adequate disclosures in their TV and print ads.  The letters also asked them to notify the FTC about their response to the letter.  (The FTC has indicated that the response has been “extremely positive.”) 
Continue Reading Is the Disclosure Going the Way of the Dodo?