TOPEKA – (March 4, 2015) – A Florida robocalling operation that illegally sold cruise vacations under the guise of political surveys has been shut down, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said today.
Schmidt, along with the attorneys general of nine other states and the Federal Trade Commission reached a settlement with Caribbean Cruise Line, Inc., requiring the company to cease its abusive telemarketing practices and imposing a penalty of $500,000. Kansas will receive approximately $20,000 as a result of the settlement.
The attorney general’s consumer protection division initiated an investigation in 2012 into the company’s practices after receiving multiple complaints by Kansas consumers. More than 80 Kansans complained about the company between 2010 and 2013. Most of the complaints alleged that the unwanted call began with a political survey which, if completed over the phone, would result in an offer of a “free” or “complimentary” cruise from CCL. Consumers who completed the survey and pressed one for their cruise were connected to a live telemarketer working on behalf of CCL to market its cruise vacations. In addition to the cruise, these telemarketers also sold pre-boarding hotels, cruise excursions, enhanced accommodations and other travel packages.
Although FTC rules and the Kansas No-Call Act do not prohibit political survey robocalls, the defendants’ robocalls to consumers on the No-Call List were illegal because they incorporated a sales pitch for a cruise and additional items.
“Many Kansans have chosen to ask for privacy when it comes to telephone solicitors,” Schmidt said. “Telemarketers cannot skirt the law by pretending to conduct surveys. Our office will continue to take action against those who violate the law.”
The case was filed yesterday in federal district court in the Southern District of Florida. A group of five interrelated companies and their owner, Fred Accuardi, have been accused of assisting with and facilitating the illegal cruise calls. Mr. Accuardi and those companies have not yet settled with the FTC or the attorneys general.
The Kansas Attorney General's office is responsible for enforcing the Kansas No-Call Act. This act prohibits most businesses from calling consumers registered on the do-not-call list to sell a product or service. Organizations soliciting charitable donations, calls concerning political candidates or issues, or other calls unrelated to the sale of property or services do not fall within the scope of the Kansas No-Call Act. In 2014, the Kansas No-Call Act was extended to registered cell phone lines as well as residential landlines.
To register for the national Do-Not-Call list, please visit www.InYourCornerKansas.org or call 1-888-382-1222.