Even after a FTC scolding and several class action lawsuits, Mantra Films, the makers of "Girls Gone Wild," are still making it difficult for consumers to cancel their subscriptions, according to consumer complaints filed with ConsumerAffairs.com.
In July 2004 the FTC ordered Mantra to pay $1.1 million for "enrolling consumers who responded to Internet and television ads advertising a single video or DVD into "continuity" programs.
Once consumers were enrolled in these programs, each month the defendants shipped additional, unordered videos and DVDs on a "negative-option" basis, charging consumers' credit and debit cards for each shipment until consumers took action to stop the shipments."
Consumers then found it nearly impossible to cancel the continuity program.
As a result of that case, Mantra was forced to make it undeniably clear what the consumer was signing up for and also follow through with the late night TV ads' promise of, "cancel any time."
To enforce this ruling, the FTC forced Mantra to submit compliance records for 180 days after the case. The commission can also ask for more compliance records after that date if necessary.
Two years later, Mantra is still advertising all over late-night TV and the complaints file into ConsumerAffairs.com on a daily basis.
"I purchased 2 DVDs for $9.99 -- cancel any time," wrote Julian of Walnut Creek, Calif. "They began to send me 1 or 2 DVDs each month. I picked up on that quickly and tried to cancel my account. Over the course of several months I have called four times each time insisting that my orders be cancelled and that they stop billing me and stop sending me DVDs. Atrociously the DVDs continue to come despite all my efforts. They have taken over $250 from me."
Although it does seem clear from recent consumer complaints and the "Girls Gone Wild" website what a person is signing up for, almost every complaint is about Mantra's apparent disregard of its "cancel anytime" promise.
There's no telling whether the FTC is doing anything.
"I can't confirm or deny any investigation," Robert Frisbee, FTC assistant director said.
Mantra, based in Hollywood, Calif., appears to be safe from local authorities as the California Department of Justice has not filed any suit nor does it have any current investigations.
Frisbee did confirm that the FTC requested more materials from Mantra once, but would not share any more specifics. "Our correspondence is not really a matter of public information," he said.