Sweeps Still Under Scrutiny

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) will keep up the pressure on unscrupulous direct-mailers once federal legislation begins this year.

“We’ve become less tolerant of sweepstakes because [we see] a significant number of victims in our own states,” says Anne Schneider, assistant Attorney General of Missouri, speaking at the Promotion Marketing Association’s Law Conference in November. “We recognize direct mailers have never met their consumers, but they know a great deal about their customers [and can see] those spending a great deal more money. At some point, marketers should be blameworthy for consumers who appear to have trouble understanding the offers being made.”

The Senate passed the bill on the last day of its legislative session. The new law requires direct-mail sweepstakers to prominently display “no purchase necessary” notices and prohibits them from misleadingly telling recipients they have won a prize.

Reader’s Digest, one of the largest direct-mail sweeps operators, wasted no time in expressing its support for the bill. “We believe enactment of this legislation now will help promote consumer confidence by setting clear guidelines for all companies,” said ceo Thomas Ryder in a release issued immediately after the bill passed the Senate.

AGs also are watching instant-win sweeps closely to make sure all prizes are awarded, especially in Florida, says Linda Goldstein, partner at Hall Dickler Kent Friedman & Wood, New York City. That means there are more second-chance drawings that pool non-winning tickets for a random drawing to award unclaimed prizes.

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