Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli joined 31 states and the District of Columbia Thursday to announce a new agreement with sweepstakes company Publishers Clearing House over allegations of continuing deceptive marketing practices.
Earlier settlements with Publishers Clearing House filed by several states in separate actions in 2000 and 2001 included specific conditions aimed at resolving the states’ allegations that PCH engaged in deceptive marketing practices by mailing promotional materials designed to mislead consumers into believing that purchases would increase their odds of winning.
“Recent investigations raised concerns that Publishers Clearing House was not fully complying with a prior agreement and that consumers could still be confused by the nature and language of some of the company’s sweepstakes promotional mailings,” says Cuccinelli.
The stipulated supplemental judgment modifies the terms of the prior judgment filed in 2000 and was filed in Richmond Circuit Court Thursday. The supplemental judgment includes stronger provisions than the prior agreement, including conditions to help ensure that consumers are not further misled or confused by the company’s sweepstakes promotions.
The terms of the new settlement also greatly increase the use of consumer surveys to ensure that consumers understand that purchasing does not increase their chances of winning a sweepstakes prize. In addition, the company agreed to pay $3.5 million to cover the cost of the states’ investigations.
In addition to Virginia, states participating in the settlement include Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.