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Tim R. Wofford/OKie Corporation; Analysis To Aid Public Comment

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Federal Trade Commission.

ACTION:

Proposed consent agreement.

SUMMARY:

The consent agreement in this matter settles alleged violations of federal law prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or practices or unfair methods of competition. The attached Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes both the allegations in the draft complaint that accompanies the consent agreement and the terms of the consent order—embodied in the consent agreement—that would settle these allegations.

DATES:

Comments must be received on or before September 3, 2002.

ADDRESSES:

Comments filed in paper form should be directed to: FTC/Office of the Secretary, Room 159-H, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20580. Comments filed in electronic form should be directed to: consentagreement@ftc.gov, as prescribed below.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Kerry O'Brien, Federal Trade Commission, Western Regional Office, 901 Market St., Suite 570, San Francisco, CA 94103. (415) 848-5189.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Pursuant to section 6(f) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 38 Stat. 721, 15 U.S.C. 46(f) and § 2.34 of the Commission's Rules of Practice, 16 CFR 2.34, notice is hereby given that the above-captioned consent agreement containing a consent order to cease and desist, having been filed with and accepted, subject to final approval, by the Commission, has been placed on the public record for a period of thirty (30) days. The following Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes the terms of the consent agreement, and the allegations in the complaint. An electronic copy of the full text of the consent agreement package can be obtained from the FTC home page (for August 5, 2002), on the World Wide Web, at http://www.ftc.gov/​os/​2002/​08/​index.htm. A paper copy can be obtained from the FTC Public Reference Room, Room 130-H, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20580, either in person or by calling (202) 326-2222.

Public comments are invited, and may be filed with the Commission in either paper or electronic form. Comments filed in paper form should be directed to: FTC/Office of the Secretary, Room 159-H, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20580. If a comment contains nonpublic information, it must be filed in paper form, and the first page of the document must be clearly labeled “confidential.” Comments that do not contain any nonpublic information may instead be filed in electronic form (in ASCII format, WordPerfect, or Microsoft Word) as part of or as an attachment to e-mail messages directed to the following e-mail box: consentagreement@ftc.gov. Such comments will be considered by the Commission and will be available for inspection and copying at its principal office in accordance with Section 4.9(b)(6)(ii) of the Commission's Rules of Practice, 16 CFR 4.9(b)(6)(ii).

Analysis of Proposed Consent Order To Aid Public Comment

The Federal Trade Commission has accepted an agreement to a proposed consent order from Tim R. Wofford, an officer of OKie Corporation (OKie). OKie did business as Prime Peripherals. Mr. Wofford and OKie advertised, labeled, offered for sale, sold, and distributed computer peripheral products to the public, including Prime Peripherals brand modems, CD-Rom drive kits, and recordable compact discs.

The proposed consent order has been placed on the public record for thirty (30) days for reception of comments by interested persons. Comments received during this period will become part of the public record. After thirty (30) days, the Commission will again review the agreement and the comments received and will decide whether it should withdraw from the agreement or make final the agreement's proposed order.

This matter concerns cash rebate offers that respondent and OKie made to consumers who purchased Prime Peripherals computer peripheral products. The complaint alleges that respondent engaged in false advertising and unfair practices relating to these rebate offers. Specifically, the complaint alleges that respondent falsely represented that he would mail cash rebates to purchasers of Prime Peripherals computer peripheral products within either six to eight or eight to ten weeks, or within a reasonable period of time, of respondent's receipt of their requests. In many instances, consumers never received their cash rebates or experienced delays ranging from one to six months.

The complaint also alleges that, in the advertising and sale of Prime Peripherals computer peripheral products, respondent offered that consumers would receive cash rebates if they purchased a Prime Peripherals computer peripheral product and submitted a rebate form with proof of purchase. In making this offer, he did not require consumers to submit a telephone number, fax number, or e-mail address to be eligible to receive the offered cash rebates. In numerous instances, consumers accepted respondent's rebate offer by purchasing those products and submitting rebate forms with proof of purchase. After receiving rebate requests, respondent unfairly modified the terms or conditions of the rebate offer unilaterally by requiring that, in addition to submitting a rebate form with proof of purchase, consumers submit a telephone number, a fax number, and an e-mail address to receive a rebate. In breach of the original rebate offer, respondent rejected numerous rebate requests from consumers because they did not submit a telephone number, a fax number, and/or an e-mail address.

Finally, the complaint alleges that respondent represented that purchasers of Prime Peripherals computer peripheral products would receive cash rebates if they purchased those products and submitted a rebate form with proper documentation, yet failed to disclose that consumers were required to possess and disclose their telephone number, fax number, and e-mail address on a rebate form to receive those cash rebates. The complaint alleges that his failure to disclose these facts was a deceptive practice.

The proposed consent order contains provisions designed to prevent respondent from engaging in similar acts and practices in the future. Part I of the proposed order prohibits respondent from failing to disclose all terms, conditions, or other limitations of a rebate offer on the rebate form. It also requires the respondent to disclose in any rebate advertising that the rebate offer requires consumers to disclose a fax number and/or e-mail address on their rebate form if such is the case. Part I of the proposed order also prohibits respondent from misrepresenting the time in which any cash rebate, or rebate in the form of credit towards future purchases, will be mailed to consumers. It also prohibits respondent from failing to provide such rebates within the time Start Printed Page 52488specified, or if no time is specified, within thirty days.

Part I of the proposed order also prohibits respondent from violating any provision of the Federal Trade Commission's trade Regulation Rule Concerning Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise (the “Mail Order Rule”) in connection with rebates in the form of merchandise. Among other things, the Mail Order Rule prohibits marketers from failing to provide rebates in the form of merchandise within the time they specify for delivery, or if no time is specified, within thirty days, unless they offer consumers the option of consenting to a delay or canceling the rebate request and promptly receiving reasonable cash compensation instead of the merchandise originally offered. Finally, Part I of the proposed order similarly probhitis respondent from failing to provide rebates in the form of services or any other consideration (other than cash, credit towards future purchases, or merchandise) within the time he specifies for delivery, or if no time is specified, within thirty days, unless he offers consumers the option of consenting to a delay or canceling the rebate request and promptly receiving reasonable cash compensation instead of the rebate originally offered.

Parts II through IV of the proposed order are reporting and compliance provisions. Part V is a provision “sunsetting” the order after twenty years, with certain exceptions.

The purpose of this analysis is to facilitate public comment on the proposed order, and it is not intended to constitute an official interpretation of the agreement and proposed order or to modify in any way their terms.

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By direction of the Commission.

Benjamin I. Berman,

Acting Secretary.

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[FR Doc. 02-20335 Filed 8-9-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6750-01-M