Senate Accuses 450 Online Companies of Scamming Consumers

Webloyalty, Vertrue and Affinion, along with over 450 of their e-commerce partners, were accused in a Senate report on Tuesday of “harming large numbers of American consumers” and of using “aggressive tactics” to bring in combined revenues of $1.4 billion.

 

In a name-and-shame effort, the report outlined a combination of deceptive offers, scammy continuity programs and many big-name merchants effectively selling credit card details to third-parties in return for CPA payments or other remuneration.

 

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has been investigating the practice of post-transaction marketing, in which additional offers are made to customers during on online checkout process. They have especially focused on what is known as “pre-acquired account marketing” in which a customer may only need to provide a click or an email address as authorization for an additional charge, with the credit card details already having been obtained by the original merchant.
Naturally continuity offers figure largely in these kinds of transactions which have proven to be very successful for the companies concerned. The report states that the $1.4 billion in revenues has resulted from over 35 million transactions and that more than 4 million people are currently enrolled in various offers.

 

Webloyalty settled some disputes earlier this year but complaints are still accumulating: over 2,700 comments on this thread for example.

 

Well known Web brands are involved in this of course, with such companies as 1800flowers, Buy.com, Classmates.com, Columbia House, Expedia, Hotels.com, Fandango, FTD, Hotwire, MovieTickets.com, Orbitz, Priceline, Shutterfly, Travelocity, US Airways and Vista Print all named in the report as having made in excess of $10 million in PTM revenues.