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Friday, November 13, 2009
Affinion Unveils Enhanced Online Marketing Standards

Affinion Expands Upon Existing Up-sell Sales Rules

Norwalk, CT- Affinion Group today announced industry-leading consumer protection policies. Over the past several months, Affinion has cooperated with the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee in its investigation on post-transaction online marketing, reviewing the industry's products and practices.

Affinion has always been recognized as the industry leader in standards and quality of marketing practices. Responding to the concerns raised by the Senate Commerce Committee, the company is further demonstrating its commitment to continuing that leadership by ensuring that consumers give clear and informed consent for online purchases and have access to easy-to-understand billing language.
The current "free to pay" marketing concerns being expressed by the Senate Commerce Committee are similar to those reviewed earlier this decade by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding telemarketing sales methods.  Affinion's new consumer guidelines apply the spirit of the regulations the FTC implemented for telemarketers to online marketers.

Specifically, these industry-leading changes include:

  • Providing enhanced clear and conspicuous disclosure of all material terms of every offer in multiple locations throughout the offer.
  • Ensuring the consumer is billed only after obtaining the express informed consent of the consumer both to be charged for the offered service and to be charged to the identified account.
  • Requiring that the consumer gives -- at a minimum -- the last four digits of their account or credit card number for every online transaction involving pre-acquired account information and a free to pay conversion.
  • Clearly indicating in all solicitations that the program is provided by the company.

In addition to voluntarily meeting the guidelines that the FTC put into place for telemarketers, Affinion is also incorporating additional protections to ensure consumers have all the information they need to find out more about the product or to cancel the service once enrolled. Those include:
  • Displaying prominently the 1-800 customer service number which can be used for cancelations on every Affinion enrollment and confirmation page.
  • Adding language to enrollment web pages that makes it even clearer to consumers that they are being invited to enroll in a club or program that is distinct from, and has distinct terms and conditions from, the offerings on our partners' websites.
  • Including the 1-800 customer service number which can be used for cancellations in each Affinion welcome email.

"Affinion is proud of its long-standing history of employing the best marketing practices in the industry and how our programs provide tremendous value for millions of consumers worldwide," said James Hart, Senior Vice President, Communications and Brand.  "While our marketing has always incorporated clear, prominent and unambiguous terms, we continually reevaluate our offers to make certain consumers are able to make fully informed decisions."

Hart continued: "Providing the clearest and most explicit marketing terms in the industry, requiring that consumers' express informed consent, and providing free, 24-hour customer service phone numbers at every step of the process is the best possible way to make certain that all consumers knowingly purchase a valuable product."

"Affinion looks forward to continued dialogue with both the committee and our customers to ensure we remain the industry leader in both standards and quality," Hart concluded.
Affinion will implement these changes over the course of the next few months.

About Affinion Group
As a global leader with 40 years of experience, Affinion Group enhances the value of its partners' customer relationships by developing and marketing loyalty solutions. Leveraging its expertise in customer engagement, product development and targeted marketing, Affinion provides programs in subscription-based lifestyle services, personal protection, insurance and other areas to help generate increased customer loyalty and significant incremental revenue for more than 5,670 marketing partners worldwide, including many of the largest and most respected companies in financial services, retail, travel, and Internet commerce. Based in Stamford, Conn., the Company has approximately 3,925 employees and has marketing capabilities in 20 countries globally. For more information, visit www.affinion.com