The Iowa Supreme Court is ordering a Connecticut-based marketing company to pay roughly $40 million in restitution and fines for duping hundreds of thousands of Iowans into signing up for buying club memberships they did not want.
The court ruled 6-0 on Friday that Vertrue Inc.'s mail, telephone and Internet solicitations violated Iowa's consumer protection laws. Since 1989, the company had enrolled 864,000 Iowans in programs in which they had access to discount goods and services.
Justices said most Iowans were enrolled unwittingly into the programs after they had accepted free gift cards or trial memberships, and were unaware that they had to cancel to avoid recurring monthly charges.
The ruling is a victory for Attorney General Tom Miller, whose office has spent nearly a decade investigating the company's practices.