Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
Bubbling up on Facebook are links and messages from your friends, all saying “I love Southwest.” That may be true, but the details in an offer for potentially free tickets may not be all that loveable.
Your Facebook friends, perhaps after being virally tipped off to the offer from other Facebook friends, go to a link, sign up for free tickets, and are asked to “like” the page and include “I love Southwest” in the message. So, you’re news feed on Facebook includes items like this:
All this love for Southwest is interesting, so you go to check it out. You see this:
You answer three general demographic questions, and then you are asked to link the page on Facebook. And then you are asked for more information, including your name, address, email and phone number.
Generally, we don’t encourage consumers to give personal information, including contact information, to unknown entities. The small print on the website seen above notes your-next-flight.com runs this program. However, you can’t get to your-next-flight.com, and a Google search of “your-next-flight.com” does not get you any usable results, either.
But more of a concern for consumers should be this: Buried in the 4,254 words of terms and conditions is notice that by registering for the free tickets, you are also giving your approval to receive telemarketing calls:
“Further, by registering on the website and providing a valid cell phone number, you are expressly consenting to receive prerecorded telephone messages from Worldwide Commerce Associates ("WCA") that include special offers from affiliated merchants. You are subscribing to receive prerecorded messages only from WCA with offers from its affiliated merchants and only at the specific number(s) you have provided to us. Your consent will be effective regardless of whether the number you have provided: (a) is a home, business, or cell phone line; and/or (b) is or will be registered on any state or federal Do Not Call list, and shall remain in effect until you revoke your consent and cancel your subscription. To unsubscribe: You may cancel your subscription and revoke your consent to receive telephone calls at any time by either (a) utilizing the opt-out procedure included in any message you receive, or (b) by calling 800-269-0281.”
We cut-and-pasted the terms and conditions into a Word document, and the above notice was found at the bottom of page seven of 11 pages. It’s highly unlikely that most consumers will see this, and chances are they will start being barraged by telemarketing phone calls. At a time when consumers usually rage at inconvenient calls, chances are by signing up for these free Southwest tickets, they will want to use them to get away from unwanted telemarketing calls.