Consumers Warned About 'Red Flags' Of E-Mail Marketing
If customers or marketers report a high number of complaints in any one of these areas, that should be a red flag warranting further investigation at the very least. Below is a short summary of the group's suggestions:
-- Before registering, pay special attention to "pre-registration disclosures" including information on set-up fees, recurring charges, and customer service infrastructure. Terms and conditions should be clearly and comprehensively explained and easily accessed.
-- The customer service portion of the Web site and all other marketing materials should include an easy-to-find phone number--preferably toll-free--for customer service inquiries. The best customer service lines should be open and answered by real human beings around the clock.
-- If an email marketing or Internet shopping firm bills its customers through local phone companies--as EDN does--the phone companies generally audit the firm's customer service performance, including billing service. Customers should inquire whether firms have passed these audits. In a related area, when complaints about billing do occur, there should also be a record of the speed with which refunds are delivered.
-- Finally, email marketing firms should embrace the generally accepted advertising formats that are considered industry standards, including such as pop-up ads are considered more and more disreputable.