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Friday, May 10, 2013

ERSP Refers Advertising for Richatlast.com to FTC for Further Review After Marketer Fails to Respond to ERSP Inquiry

The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) will refer direct response advertising for Richatlast.com Affiliate Marketing Program to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) after the marketer, Richatlast.com, failed to respond to an ERSP inquiry.

ERSP is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The marketer’s advertising came to ERSP’s attention pursuant to its ongoing monitoring program.

Claims at issue in the initial inquiry included:

  • “How would you like to get a bunch of $500 bills poured directly into your pocket every single day?”
  • “With this easy-to-do system, anyone (even YOU!) can make well over $100,000 a month!”
  • “That's right! Just fill out the form below, and learn how to instantly start making $1497 per day with a simple cheap postcard campaign, and YES I mean PER DAY!”
  • “There has never been an easier-to-do Internet business than this!”
  • “IMPORTANT! You only have a little while remaining before this offer is closed"

Pursuant to the ERSP Policies and Procedures, after failing to provide a  substantive response to ERSP’s original inquiry within fifteen calendar days, the marketer was afforded a second ten-day period in which to submit a substantive response. The marketer did not do so. Pursuant to ERSP Policies and Procedures, this matter has been referred to the FTC.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

ERSP Recommends Coffee Shop Millionaire Discontinue Certain Claims for Lead-Generation Program; Company Agrees to Do So

The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has recommended that Coffee Shop Millionaire Education, Inc. modify or discontinue certain claims for the company’s “Coffee Shop Millionaire,” a lead-generation affiliate marketing business.

ERSP is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The marketer’s advertising came to the attention of ERSP pursuant to its ongoing monitoring program.

ERSP reviewed online advertising for the Coffee Shop Millionaire system and identified several claims for review, including:
  • "How a Flip-Flop Wearing Bum At A Coffee Shop Drives Luxury Sports Cars & Rakes In As Much As $3,846,373 A Year"
  • "You don’t need ANY technical experience.”
  • "You need to act fast or you will miss out. And if you decide to come back later? You’ll probably be too late.”
  • "Anthony…I can’t thank you enough for the $21k cash machine. I made more with your system in a matter of weeks than I had made in my entire previous 18 months online. Plus I continue to make money every week like clockwork when I mail the list I build using the system.”
Techniques addressed include, but are not limited to, internet and mobile applications, affiliate marketing, search engine optimization, social media, article marketing, joint venture partnerships, product launches, new product creation, list building and monetizing,  and local marketing. The marketer asserted that the cost for these materials was 10-30 times less than for competing products.  

The marketer explained that consumers gain access to the information by purchasing a subscription to the service at coffeeshopmillionaire.com for a one-time fee. Once a member, subscribers have access to a variety of information and resources and are provided fully-developed products and corresponding rights to resell them. Products include, but are not limited to: “The Bible of Bodybuilding,” “The Most Important Guide on Dieting and Nutrition in the 21st Century,” and “Sleeping Sanctuary: Salvation for the Sleep Deprived."

The advertising at issue featured a disclaimer that stated in part: “Any reference to, or income examples from, my businesses and/or the examples of others are exceptional results, which do not apply to the average person and are not intended to represent or guarantee that anyone will achieve the same or similar results.”

ERSP recommended that the marketer discontinue use of the disclaimer in conjunction with testimonials and earnings claims that indicate consumers can make large sums of money quickly and easily. Further, ERSP recommended the marketer the amount of money that consumers can generally expect to earn based upon reliable program usage data it has received from consumers.

Given the absence of evidence in the record, ERSP recommended the marketer discontinue claims that indicate users of the system can earn money quickly, easily, and with little or no computer skills.

ERSP was additionally concerned with the lack of disclosure language to explain to potential customers that technical skills (i.e., how to build a website using HTML or how to host it) are not necessary because those are types of services that outside vendors may perform. While ERSP understands the marketer’s position that the techniques conveyed in Coffee Shop Millionaire assist users in identifying vendors who can perform the services that require technical expertise, ERSP nevertheless recommended that the marketer add clear and conspicuous disclosure language to more accurately convey these details to customers.

Finally, ERSP recognized the marketer’s voluntary removal of claims that formed the basis of this inquiry, such as:
  • “How a Flip-Flop Wearing Bum At A Coffee Shop Drives Luxury Sports Cars & Rakes In As Much As $3,846,373 A Year!”
  • “People are making anywhere from a couple hundred dollars a day, to as much as $10,000 a day from their laptops, iPads and even cellphones.”
The company, in its marketer’s statement, said that it is in the process of modifying its advertising to addresses the ERSP’s concerns.