U.S. Bank Kills Phone Effort U.S. BANK HAS halted a controversial telemarketing program only two days after being sued by the Minnesota Attorney General for alleged privacy violations. The suit, filed on June 9 by Minnesota AG Mike Hatch, alleged that the bank improperly released customers’ private banking information to Memberworks, a Stamford, CT-based telemarketing company, for use in the sale of a health membership program. This data included names, marital status, home ownership, occupation, checking account number, credit card number, Social Security number, average account balance, account frequency information and credit limit, according to the complaint on file with the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. In addition, U.S. Bank violated federal law and banking rules by allowing Memberworks to automatically withdraw payments from a checking account without written authorization from the consumer, the suit alleged. Since November 1996, U.S. Bank has received more than $4 million plus a 22% commission on all sales made by Memberworks, according to the complaint. The episode reflects increasing concern over release of personal data by financial institutions. On Monday, Comptroller of the Currency John D. Hawke Jr. called for banks to stop selling customer information to unaffiliated telemarketers. John F. Grundhofer, CEO of the bank’s parent company U.S. Bancorp, announced in full-page ads in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Ju ne 11 that the bank was “ending [its] participation in this and all similar types of marketing programs for non-finthcial products.”
Rappaport Named DMA List Leader THE DIRECT MARKETING Association has named Donn Rappaport, CEO of American List Counsel Inc., list leader of the year for 1999. Rappaport, who has 20 years’ experience in the list business, is being cited by the DMA as a “leading proponent of innovation, spearheading the evolution from mailing lists to information marketing.” He will receive the award at a reception following the DMA’s List Vision ’99 on Aug. 10. The reception will be held at the 200 Fifth Club in New York. The conference will take place at the Hilton New York & Towers.
Domino’s Hires Relationship Director DOMINO’S PIZZA, Ann Arbor, MI, has named Jack Scheible to the newly created position of senior director of relationship marketing. Scheible had previously been a partner in J. Walter Thompson’s Detroit office, where he managed the planning and integration of national media for the Domino’s Pizza account. Scheible’s responsibilities will include coordinating direct and loyalty marketing efforts, price effectiveness studies and strategic marketing alliances.
AFP Hit by Judge A FEDERAL JUDGE has found American Family Publishers in contempt for violating a deal in which the company agreed to tone down its contest promotions mailed to North Carolina households. Chief U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle found the sweepstakes company in civil contempt of a 1993 settlement that ended a lawsuit against the company’s practices. The settlement said American Family Publishers would stop using “language of congratulations or other prizewinning declarations which, when considered in context…represents that the recipient of the envelope has won a prize.” A hearing to address potential damages was scheduled for June 29.
Tiger Settles Charges TIGER DIRECT INC., the Miami-based computer direct marketer, has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it misled consumers about its onsite warranty service. The FTC claimed the company failed to provide the service promised in ads and promotional materials-for example, it did not repair keyboards, speakers or mice, though these were depicted in the ads. The agency also alleged that Tiger did not complete repairs in a timely fashion, as advertised. The proposed settlement would prohibit Tiger Direct from misrepresenting the terms of its one-year, on-site warranty. It would also require the company to comply with the relevant provisions of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and the FTC’s own rules.
Lifestyle Change Has a New Owner GEORGIA U.S. Data Services Inc. has acquired Lifestyle Change Communications, the Atlanta-based database and alternative media company. Terms of the sale were not disclosed. Bob Perlstein, president of Lifestyle Change Communications, plans to focus on a new firm, Sports & Entertainment Direct LCC. The new company distributes alternative media packs at sports and entertainment events such as the Super Bowl.
Digest Hires a New VP THE READER’S DIGEST Association Inc., Pleasantville, NY, has appointed Robert J. Raymond to the newly created position of vice president for strategic acquisitions and alliances. Since 1993, Raymond has been general manager for U.S. Music, Video and Special Channels.
USPS Launches System for Flats THE U.S. POSTAL SERVICE will begin a new labeling list and package reallocation system this month for mailers of Standard A mail flats (catalogs and other non-letter-size pieces) and irregular-shaped parcels. Postal officials hope the optional system will lead to an increase in the percentage of palletized and sacked Standard A mail that is pre-sorted by 5-digit ZIP code. Mailers who submit automatable palletized or sacked flats or packages at destination delivery units (DDUs) will be eligible for the basic DDU enhanced carrier route rate of 13.6 cents per piece, if the facility is one at which the carrier cases the mail, according to the USPS. The per-piece charge goes down to 12.5 cents a piece for high-density and 11.4 cents for saturation mailings that are either palletized or sacked entering the mail stream at a DDU. The basic per-piece charge for flats and other non-letter size Standard A mail entering the mail stream at a sectional center facility is 14.1 cents per piece; 13 cents for a high-density mailing and 11.9 cents for a saturation mailing.