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August 15, 2006

FTC Sues Movieland.com on Alleged Deceptive Practices

The Federal Trade Commission and the Washington State Attorney General have filed parallel complaints against 11 companies and others associated with movie download services.  Consumers sign up for trials and get bombarded with pop-up windows demanding money.  The software is difficult to remove even with expertise on the part of the user.

From the FTC Press Release:

According to papers filed with the court, the defendants downloaded software that repeatedly pelted consumers’ computers with pop-ups, accompanied by music that lasted nearly a minute, and could not be closed or minimized. These pop-ups demanded that consumers pay the defendants $29.95 to end the recurring pop-up cycle, claiming that consumers had signed up for a three-day “free trial” of the defendants’ Movieland Internet download services and did not cancel their “membership” before the trial period was over. Hundreds of consumers complained to the FTC. Most claimed they had never signed up for the “free trial,” never used Movieland’s services, and never even heard of Movieland until they got their first demand for payment.

The FTC’s complaint also alleges the defendants made it difficult or impossible for consumers to uninstall the software. Consumers attempting to remove it through the Windows Control Panel Add/Remove function were redirected to a Web page telling them that they had to pay the $29.95 fee to stop the pop-ups. The only way many consumers could regain control of their computers was to pay the defendants to stop the pop-ups, or pay a computer technician to help them.

CNET has the story.  The FTC press release and a list of documents in the case are here.

August 15, 2006 | Permalink

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