Internet Sales Tactics Are Out of Hand

I recently read and article with a somewhat missleading title, but the content was interesting, and a bit scary.  The article is from the LA Times and was called “Congress is Cracking Down on Internet Marketing Companies“.  Now, when I think of Internet Marketing companies I think of firms offering actual marketing services.  In this case the article is really referring to Internet advertising and sales technology companies.  Either way, the topic is about these technologies being used by major retailers which use people’s credit card info and share it with other services.  Next thing you know you are getting reoccurring bills from some site you have never heard of.

Here is an example.  You are ordering tickets online and during your check out process an ad pops up urging you to “click” in order to get $20 off your next purchase.  That click then automatically sends your credit card info to another company you have never heard of and signs you up for a “membership”.  You then get billed automatically for months before you realize it and cancel.  Most people are too busy to notice or forget whether they signed up for something and never really pursure it beyond cancelling. 

As I said before the article refers to these firms as online marketing companies.  The companies they are talking about are the ones who are creating and distributing these technologies and then partnering with major retailers.  Some of these companies include (according to the article)  Affinion, Vertrue, and Webloyalty.  The scary thing is that these shady companies have been able to partner with major retailers like Hotwire.com and Continental Airlines.

The article stated that stories like these have encouraged members of Congress to seek legislation designed to crack down on these types of aggressive sales tactics (and the technology that makes them a reality).  This type of thing is no doubt something no consumer should have to worry about!

Has this ever happened to you?  Please share!

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