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  1. #1
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Not the FTC, but More Government Intervention
    In this particular case, I'd say it's a positive, but it once again raises SOME fear in me that government agencies will somehow fail to draw a clear line between "good and bad". So watch how you word things...

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    The Attorney General of the State of Texas, Greg Abbot, announced on Monday, Cyber Monday no less, that theyíve takenlegal action against Intercept (and a second company, Everyprice.com) for misleading consumers
    These guys were clearly over the line. But as more of these cases find the public eye, my concern is that there will be more complaints from the public as well. And DA's and watchdogs LOVE to follow up on those things.
    Kevin Webster
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  2. #2
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    "Fake Endorsement" cases
    There is a very clear "common issue" among all these cases: not just deception of consumers, but deception using fake endorsements.

    Recall the recent actions against web sites that used fake celebrity endorsements (Oprah, etc.) to promote their products, and against the plastic surgeon who paid staff to write fake consumer reviews of his services.

    I think there are also some "health claims" cases where the merchants (or their affiliates) made up fake endorsements about health benefits achieved from using the product (I don't know the exact rules regarding health claims for nutriceuticals, but my hunch is that free speech [First Amendment] would protect someone who truthfully wrote, "I took St. John's Wort and it helped with my depression," or who truthfully wrote that a particular herb is "frequently used" for a particular condition).

    The current Texas case, cited above, involves two companies that operated price-comparison sites, who included "ratings" of the companies whose products were displayed, and advised consumers that the ratings were based on consumer feedback. In fact, merchants could pay a fee to improve their ratings, so this was a deception that clearly benefited unethical merchants (and the web sites' profits). Think about it: this is just another fake endorsement case -- pretending that a rating is actually based on consumer-generated feedback (crowdsourced?) when it's not.

    On the topic of price-comparison sites -- has anyone encountered price-comparison sites that deliberately display inflated, incorrect prices for merchants who don't pay the site (or don't pay "enough")? For example, an unethical price-comparison site might intentionally display fake, inflated prices for well-known merchants (Amazon, Wal-Mart) in order to make the price from another company look more competitive, and to discourage the consumer from actually visiting the competing merchants' own web sites to see the real price.
    Last edited by markwelch; December 6th, 2009 at 11:59 AM.

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador Daniel M. Clark's Avatar
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    The days of Anything Goes on the internet are coming to a close - and I say, good. There needs to be some oversight by the government in these matters, just as there is some oversight by the government in offline matters. Some does not mean a lot - it needs to be handled responsibly and carefully with input from companies and users of the internet (especially users). The government needs authority to smack down the fraud and the lawbreakers, just like offline.
    Daniel M. Clark
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    Greg Hoffman Consulting

  4. #4
    CPA Network Rep Essociate's Avatar
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    the Texas attorney general release stated.. "legal action led to an agreed judgment wherein Intercept promised to correct its unlawful practices and either pay a $300,000 civil penalty or cease doing business at the end of November."

    well it looks like everyprice.com is no more. they must not have made enough money to pay the fine and go legit. good riddance to them.

  5. #5
    More Cheesier Than Ever Cheesehead's Avatar
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    Fake endorsements? How about out right lies? See http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=126844
    This World is Not My Home
    We're gonna go inside, we're gonna go outside, inside and outside. . . And then we're gonna go go go and we're not gonna stop til we get across that goalline! Quotes from the movie Rudy, 1993

  6. #6
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Again, in this case, I agree that they were over the line. Point of the post was to highlight that people are watching. So stay true to quality marketing standards. Even one slip up can put you in the crosshairs.
    Kevin Webster
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