Deception in Post-Transaction Marketing Offers

Edelman, Benjamin. “Deception in Post-Transaction Marketing Offers.” U.S. Senate, Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation, November 2009.

I examine the consumer protection issues raised by post-transaction marketing offers. My key concerns:

  • Post‐transaction marketing offers systematically reach consumers in a time when consumers are particularly vulnerable. Post‐transaction offers feature deceptive designs that invite consumers to conclude, mistakenly, that the offers comes from the companies the consumers have chosen to frequent, and that the offers are a required part of the checkout process.
  • The automatic transfer of consumers’ payment information from a merchant to a post ‐ transaction marketer runs contrary to consumer expectations, and creates a heightened risk that consumers will “accept” financial obligations they did not intend to incur.
  • Disclosures fail to cure the deception created by post-transaction offers, their timing and formatting, and their automatic transfer of consumers’ payment information.
  • Straightforward remedies could protect consumers who have suffered unwanted charges, and could prevent further consumers from incurring similar charges.