LEGAL: Time Unit Sued for Sweeps Promotion

By Aug 01, 2000

Time Consumer Marketing Inc., New York, a unit of Time Inc., has been sued for making “misleading and exaggerated claims” in a sweepstakes promotion mailed earlier this year. The suit, filed in June in Cook County Superior Court by the Cook County, IL, State Attorney’s Office, alleges that Time’s marketing division violated the state’s Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Act with a promotion for books, magazines, audiotapes and videotapes. The mailing piece implied the recipient was a sweepstakes winner, the suit claims.

Time Consumer Marketing faces fines of up to $50,000 per violation. Time Inc. spokesman Peter Costiglio said the company does not agree with the allegations in the complaint. He added that the statements made in the Guaranteed & Bonded mailings are truthful.

Cook County State Attorney Dick Devine disagreed. He cited as an example a mail piece addressed to Cook States, 50 W. Washington Ave., Chicago, proclaiming “Cook States Has Won $833,337 in a Single Cash Payment.” The downtown Chicago address is for the State Attorney’s office. Devine said the receipt of that mailing, plus an unspecified number of complaints from consumers, prompted an investigation leading to the lawsuit. According to Devine, the mailing did not disclose the estimated odds of winning and falsely implied that recipients could increase their chances of winning by buying books, tapes or records.