Please remember that I’m not a lawyer and I am not giving you legal advice.
On Dec 2nd the FTC, Federal Trade Commission will start enforcing some new rules that will probably affect your business.
Here is a brief summary of the new regulations:
Voice broadcast: The FTc considers deceptive to use an automated service to leave messages. Now you cannot place a recorded call unless you have written permission on file. This applies to existing customers and clients with whom you already have a relationship. You must provide the consumer with an interactive means of opt out of future calls and they must be able to do it at any time during the call by pressing a particular number or speaking a particular word. You need then to place that consumer in a do not call list.
If the message is left on an answering machine, it must include a toll-free opt-out number that connects to an automated voice or key-press opt-out mechanism.
If your call is reminding about a coaching call or package shipped, it is ok as long as the call is not selling anything.
Remember that if your customer opts-out, it is an opt-out from all phone calls.
So, if you use calls to market to your audience, remember to work the language on your order forms to make sure it gives you express permission to send prerecorded calls and a place for them to sign.
FTC rules regarding testimonials.
Advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect. That means that just saying that results are not typical is no longer enough to satisfy the FTC.
If you are a blogger or affiliate marketer you need to CLEARLY state that you are making money if someone clicks on a link and buys a product that you are talking about.
The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service. Likewise, if a company refers in an advertisement to the findings of a research organization that conducted research sponsored by the company, the advertisement must disclose the connection between the advertiser and the research organization. And a paid endorsement – like any other advertisement – is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.
The revised Guides also make it clear that celebrities have a duty to disclose their relationships with advertisers when making endorsements outside the context of traditional ads, such as on talk shows or in social media.