Everybody loves a good rebate, but don’t fall victim to aggressive marketing tactics in the pursuit. After purchasing tickets through Ticketmaster, many consumers were presented an opportunity to click on the offer for a rebate not realizing the hidden charges that awaited.
Ticketmaster customers who clicked on the provided link were then redirected to another website that prompted them to call a number to speak with an associate. What was waiting for callers on the other end was a lengthy sales pitch to start trial subscriptions. While some are able to get the intial $15.00 rebate offer, others are tempted by a larger rebate and unknowingly agree to a subscription program that automatically bills their debit or credit card $16.99 every month.
The subscription program is called Great Fun, a savings club program, which offers discounts on shopping, dining, entertainment, and travel. Here’s the deal that was presented to Ticketmaster consumers: Sign up for a 30 day trial period with Great Fun for only $1, cash the rebate check, cancel before the end of the 30 day period, and make money.
Those agreeing to the sales pitch were then asked to supply their credit card information to pay the $1 fee. While many people cancel their subscription before the 30 day trial period ends, others don’t even realized they signed-up for the membership until they see the charges on their credit card statement. There have been numerous complaints about this program on PissedConsumner.com and RipoffReport.com, among others.
This marketing scheme is called post-transaction marketing. Major online retailers partner with direct marketing companies, who offer their customers’ deals on discount shopping clubs and then the retailers earn some of the fees.
Affinion Group of Stamford is partners with many big online companies, such as Ticketmaster, Buy.com, GMAC.com, and FTD.com. Affinion owns the Great Fun program and over two dozen other subscription membership programs, which they use to provide revenue for their company and their partners, such as Ticketmaster. Many people are not even aware of this billion dollar industry, but those who are, think post-transaction marketing is deception marketing, according to About.com.
Affinion is a marketing company that seeks to build the brand of their partners, create more revenue streams, help attract new customers, and build greater customer loyalty. According to Affiniongroup.com, they engage their partners’ customers with products suited to their lifestyles at an excellent value for their money. It makes sense why online retailers would want to partner with such marketing companies, however, many consumers are still questioning the ethics of these online retailers, such as Ticketmaster.
Over the years, state attorneys general offices have sued Affinion for using deception to enroll consumers in clubs, according to The Hartford Courant. In 2010, the Restore Online Shoppers Confidence Act was created to protect consumers from aggressive online marketing.
“It’s not as though they click on a link and suddenly they’re signed up. They have to re-enter their [credit-card] information. And they can ask Great Fun to stop the service.” said Jacqueline Peterson, a Ticketmaster spokeswoman on Courant.com.
Consumers were not always required to re-enter their credit card information, all they had to do was type in their email address, but since the ROSCA in January 2010, consumers have to enter their credit card a second time, according to The New York Times. Despite the new regulations, many consumers are still falling for these aggressive sales tactics.
In order to avoid any monthly charges, consumers should remember to be hesitant when approached with a deal for “free money,” and to always read the fine print which may list the fees and cancellation policies.