FTC settles with DVD seller over fake reviews

The company's online affiliates wrote reviews without disclosing a relationship, the FTC says

A company marketing guitar and other instructional DVDs will pay US$250,000 for allegedly fake reviews posted by the company's affiliate marketers, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said Friday.

Legacy Learning Systems of Nashville, Tennessee, and owner Lester Gabriel Smith advertised the Learn and Master Guitar program through online affiliate marketers who posed as ordinary consumers or independent reviewers, the FTC said in a press release. The affiliates did not clearly disclose the "substantial" commissions they received from the company for every sale they generated, the FTC said.

The failure to disclose the relationship between the reviewers and the company is a violation of FTC rules and is an unfair or deceptive business practice, the FTC said in a complaint. In October 2009, the FTC published guidelines for paid reviews and endorsements that required reviewers and endorsers, including bloggers, to disclose the payments.

Legacy Learning Systems didn't immediately respond to an e-mail and a phone message seeking comment on the FTC settlement.

One affiliate review called Learn and Master Guitar the "undisputed No. 1 training product for someone wanting to learn how to play the guitar," the FTC said in its complaint. Another called it the "best home study DVD course for guitar I have ever seen." Twenty-five affiliates running reviews have led to $5 million in sales of Legacy's products, the complaint said.

In some cases, Legacy's affiliates endorsed the company's instructional courses without any disclosure of their relationship to Legacy, and in other cases, disclosures were accessible "only through inconspicuous hyperlinks," the FTC said in its complaint.

The FTC-approved settlement requires Legacy and Smith to pay $250,000 and maintain a system to review and monitor their affiliate marketers.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags U.S. Federal Trade Commissione-commerceregulationCivil lawsuitslegalLester Gabriel SmithgovernmentinternetLegacy Learning Systems

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?