Cambridge Who's Who is a vanity publisher that creates a directory of business leaders and professionals. While it provides a free online listing, it also sells enhanced listings and other products like press releases and videos.
Its sales of those additional products are what brought it into conflict with Oregon's very tough telemarketing laws.
Oregon Attorney General John Kroger says the company has agreed to pay approximately $15,000 in restitution to Oregon consumers, and has changed its sales script to comply with Oregon's Unlawful Trade Practices Act (UTPA). In particular, Cambridge Who's Who will comply with Oregon's "30-second rule."
That rule requires the telemarketer to clearly communicate the total cost of goods or services in the first 30 seconds. If the consumer says they aren't interested, the call must be ended immediately.
Cambridge Who's Who advertises a free listing both online and through the mail, then personally follows up with a phone call. Kroger's office got involved after receiving about half a dozen complaints from Oregon consumers.
Company records obtained by the Oregon Department of Justice indicated that Cambridge Who's Who would call consumers who expressed an interest in the free listing and, during those calls, the company would attempt to sell memberships that cost several hundred dollars. Under the terms of the settlement, the company will now remind consumers that a free listing is available to them.
The publisher will also pay more than $15,000 to two Oregon consumers. The company had already issued refunds to a number of consumers prior to the settlement under which the company admitted to no wrongdoing.
The company has also agreed to pay $13,500 to the Oregon Department of Justice consumer protection & education fund. Kroger says the Better Business Bureau of New York gives Cambridge Who's Who a "C" rating, citing 354 consumer complaints nationwide.