Senate Commitee investigates aggressive Internet sales tactics

November 21, 2009 · Posted in Commentary 

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, chaired by Senator Jay Rockefeller, is conducting a hearing into customers unwittingly being duped into joining online loyalty programs when making a purchase.  According to Senator Rockefeller, companies like Affinion, Vertrue, and Webloyalty “have made more than $1.4 billion dollars through these tactics and charged more than 30 million Americans.”  Rockefeller estimates that 4 million American consumers are currently having their credit cards billed for these loyalty programs and most are unaware of it. 

Beneficiaries of this “scam” include big name online companies like Pizza Hut,,, Yahoo, Fandango, Travelocity, Expedia/,, Barnes and Noble, and eHarmony.  Senator Rockefeller estimates that online retailers have taken in a combined sum of $792 million from these misleading loyalty programs.

To avoid being nailed by one of these customer loyalty scams, read the checkout page carefully when making an online purchase.  Also, check your credit card statements for mysterious charges that range between $9 and $12.  Such small amounts can slide in under a consumer’s radar.

You can read the Staff Report for Senator Rockefeller here.

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