FTC Settles DeceptiveWeb-Based Advertising Claim
Maybe you've seen Adteractive's garbage showing up on your computer screen.
The company ran e-mail and Web ads offering free Sony Playstations, laptop computers, and even a $1,000 check, implying that consumers had been selected as secret shoppers and would receive the free gear or cash after they tested the products, the FTC said in court filings.
All, of course, untrue:
In order to get the really good prizes, consumers would have to do things like take out a one-year subscription to satellite TVs, or sign up for CD or DVD deliveries. "In most instances, it is impossible for the consumer to qualify for... free merchandise without spending money," the FTC said.
Given the prevailing Republican philosophy of caveat emptor (roughly translated in conservative-speak as "people who are stupid enough to let themselves be cheated deserve it"), it's surprising that the FTC cares about deceptive advertising. It cared enough to go after Adteractive, settling for $650,000, a sum that sounds large until it's compared to Aderactive's 2005 earnings of $118 million. More promising is Adteractive's claimed acceptance of the FTC's "guidance" on how to use the word 'free'," the meaning of which apparently puzzled Adteractive until now.
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