Cruise Line Agrees to $500K Settlement for Disguising Sales Calls
Caribbean Cruise Line Inc. has agreed to a $7.73 million settlement after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 10 state attorney generals sued the Fort Lauderdale-based company for disguising illegal sales calls as legal political survey robocalls. The company will pay $500,000 of the fine and the rest will be partially suspended.
Political survey robocalls to landline phones are exempt from the FTC's do-not-call and robocall rules because they aren't used to sell anything. The FTC said that Caribbean Cruise Line Inc. made billions of robocalls to sell cruise packages between October 2011 and June 2012, which included between 12 and 15 million calls per day.
"Consumers who answered these calls typically heard a pre-recorded message supposedly from 'John from Political Operations of America,' who told them they had been 'carefully selected' to participate in a 30-second research survey, after which they could 'press one' to receive a two-day cruise to the Bahamas," the FTC said in a statement. Respondents who then pressed one were connected to a live telemarketer who would sell cruise vacations, pre-boarding hotels, cruise excursions, enhanced accommodations and other travel packages.
“Marketers who know the ropes understand you can’t steer clear of the do not call rules by tacking a political or survey call onto a sales pitch,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Anyone who assists in making illegal calls is also on the hook.”
Caribbean Cruise Line was one of eight companies included in the complaint.