Iowa AG settles with marketing company

Keith Loria Dec. 29, 2010, 3:19pm


DES MOINES, Iowa (Legal Newsline) - Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced on Wednesday that a marketing company has agreed to change its practices after allegedly violating the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act.

Ambassadors Group and Ambassador Programs, the marketing company for "People to People International," allegedly sends invitations to students through what's called an "admissions advisor" asking them to join up as an official state of Iowa delegate. Its latest marketing materials in Iowa allegedly misrepresented that the governor was involved in choosing those who would travel abroad through the program.

"I am concerned that parents who received these notices are led to believe that 'People to People' and the governor somehow selected their child, based on merit," Miller said.

"Parents who normally would not or could not pay several thousand dollars for these trips may feel pressured to sign up simply because of the way they have been marketed."

Miller alleges that these travel programs are marketed by the for-profit company to a number of potential customers who are not specifically selected for the invitation.

According to an assurance of voluntary compliance, Ambassadors Group and Ambassador Programs are required to halt stating or implying that a travel option or "opportunity" is because of any special recognition, honor, performance, skill or other restrictive eligibility criteria.

The companies must also not imply that they are representing a non-profit entity, that they are affiliated with any governmental bodies, that a government official was involved in the selection process, or that anyone within an educational facility was involved in the recommendation process unless there is documentation to prove it.

Although the companies deny any wrongdoing, Ambassadors Group and Ambassador Programs will pay $50,000 to the State for its Consumer Fraud Enforcement Fund.

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