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Notice

Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; Comment Request

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AGENCY:

Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”).

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

The FTC intends to ask the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) to extend for an additional three years the current Paperwork Reduction Act (“PRA”) clearance for information collection requirements contained in its Use of Prenotification Negative Option Plans (“Negative Option Rule” or “Rule”). That clearance expires on December 31, 2014.

DATES:

Comments must be submitted by September 22, 2014.

ADDRESSES:

Interested parties may file a comment online or on paper, by following the instructions in the Request for Comment part of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below. Write “Negative Option Rule: FTC File No. P064202” on your comment, and file your comment online at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/​ftc/​NegOptionPRA by following the instructions on the web-based form. If you prefer to file your comment on paper, mail or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Suite CC-5610 (Annex J), Washington, DC 20580, or deliver your comment to the Start Printed Page 43048following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Constitution Center, 400 7th Street SW., 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex J), Washington, DC 20024.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Requests for additional information should be addressed to Robert M. Frisby, Attorney, Division of Enforcement, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., CC-9528, Washington, DC 20580, (202) 326-2098.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Under the PRA, 44 U.S.C. 3501-3521, federal agencies must obtain approval from OMB for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. “Collection of information” means agency requests or requirements that members of the public submit reports, keep records, or provide information to a third party. 44 U.S.C. 3502(3); 5 CFR 1320.3(c). As required by section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the PRA, the FTC is providing this opportunity for public comment before requesting that OMB extend the existing clearance for the information collection requirements contained in the Negative Option Rule, 16 CFR Part 425 (OMB Control Number 3084-0104).

The FTC invites comments on: (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

The Negative Option Rule governs the operation of prenotification subscription plans. Under these plans, sellers notify subscribers that they will automatically ship merchandise, such as books, compact discs, or tapes, and bill subscribers for the merchandise if the subscribers do not expressly reject the merchandise beforehand within a prescribed time. The Rule protects consumers by: (a) Requiring that promotional materials disclose the terms of membership clearly and conspicuously; and (b) establishing procedures for the administration of such “negative option” plans.

Burden Statement

Estimated annual hours burden: 3,125 hours.

Based on industry input, staff estimates that approximately 35 existing clubs each require annually about 75 hours to comply with the Rule's disclosure requirements, for a total of 2,625 hours (35 clubs × 75 hours). These clubs should be familiar with the Rule, which has been in effect since 1974, with the result that the burden of compliance has declined over time. Moreover, a substantial portion of the existing clubs likely would make these disclosures absent the Rule because they have helped foster long-term relationships with consumers.

Approximately 5 new clubs come into being each year. These clubs require approximately 100 hours to comply with the Rule, including start up-time. Thus, the cumulative PRA burden for new clubs is about 500 hours (5 clubs × 100 hours). Combined with the estimated burden for established clubs, the total burden is 3,125 hours.

Estimated annual cost burden: $153,950 (solely related to labor costs).

Based on recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics,[1] the mean hourly wage for advertising managers is approximately $54 per hour; compensation for office and administrative support personnel is approximately $17 per hour. Assuming that managers perform the bulk of the work, and clerical personnel perform associated tasks (e.g., placing advertisements and responding to inquiries about offerings or prices), the total cost to the industry for the Rule's information collection requirements would be approximately $153,950 [(65 hours managerial time × 35 existing clubs × $54 per hour) + (10 hours clerical time × 35 existing clubs × $17 per hour) + (90 hours managerial time × 5 new clubs × $54 per hour) + (10 hours clerical time × 5 new clubs × $17)].

Because the Rule has been in effect since 1974, the vast majority of the negative option clubs have no current start-up costs. For the few new clubs that enter the market each year, the costs associated with the Rule's disclosure requirements, beyond the additional labor costs discussed above, are de minimis. Negative option clubs already have access to the ordinary office equipment necessary to comply with the Rule. Similarly, the Rule imposes few, if any, printing and distribution costs. The required disclosures generally constitute only a small addition to the advertising for negative option plans.

Because printing and distribution expenditures are incurred to market the product regardless of the Rule, adding the required disclosures results in marginal incremental expense.

Request for Comment

You can file a comment online or on paper. For the FTC to consider your comment, we must receive it on or before September 22, 2014. Write “Negative Option Rule: FTC File No. P064202” on your comment. Your comment—including your name and your state—will be placed on the public record of this proceeding, including, to the extent practicable, on the public Commission Web site, at http://www.ftc.gov/​os/​publiccomments.shtm. As a matter of discretion, the Commission tries to remove individuals' home contact information from comments before placing them on the Commission Web site.

Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for making sure that your comment does not include any sensitive personal information, like anyone's Social Security number, date of birth, driver's license number or other state identification number or foreign country equivalent, passport number, financial account number, or credit or debit card number. You are also solely responsible for making sure that your comment does not include any sensitive health information, like medical records or other individually identifiable health information. In addition, do not include any “[t]rade secret or any commercial or financial information which is obtained from any person and which is privileged or confidential . . ., ” as provided in Section 6(f) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and FTC Rule 4.10(a)(2), 16 CFR 4.10(a)(2). If you want the Commission to give your comment confidential treatment, you must file it in paper form, with a request for confidential treatment, and you have to follow the procedure explained in FTC Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).[2] Your comment will be kept confidential only if the FTC General Counsel grants your request in Start Printed Page 43049accordance with the law and the public interest.

Postal mail addressed to the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security screening. As a result, we encourage you to submit your comments online, or to send them to the Commission by courier or overnight service. To make sure that the Commission considers your online comment, you must file it at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/​ftc/​NegOptionPRA by following the instructions on the web-based form. If this Notice appears at http://www.regulations.gov/​#!home, you also may file a comment through that Web site.

If you file your comment on paper, write “Negative Option Rule: FTC File No. P064202” on your comment and on the envelope, and mail or deliver it to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Suite CC-5610 (Annex J), Washington, DC 20580, or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Constitution Center, 400 7th Street SW., 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex J), Washington, DC 20024. If possible, submit your paper comment to the Commission by courier or overnight service.

The FTC Act and other laws that the Commission administers permit the collection of public comments to consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. The Commission will consider all timely and responsive public comments that it receives on or before September 22, 2014. You can find more information, including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, in the Commission's privacy policy, at http://www.ftc.gov/​ftc/​privacy.htm.

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David C. Shonka,

Principal Deputy General Counsel.

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Footnotes

1.  Occupational Employment And Wages—May 2013, Table 1, at http://www.bls.gov/​news.release/​pdf/​ocwage.pdf.

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2.  In particular, the written request for confidential treatment that accompanies the comment must include the factual and legal basis for the request, and must identify the specific portions of the comment to be withheld from the public record. See FTC Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).

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[FR Doc. 2014-17486 Filed 7-23-14; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6750-01-P