SEATTLE - December 5, 1996 - Telemark, Inc., a Portland-based telemarketing firm, operating extensively in Washington, agreed today to pay $316,000 in fines and fees to settle a lawsuit for deceiving customers, failing to provide services to clients and falsifying polling results.
Telemark does business with a wide spectrum of political clients including Patrick Buchanan, The Republican National Committee and Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon.
The settlement, filed today in Thurston County Superior Court, stemmed from an April 23, 1996 lawsuit filed by the Attorney General's Office against Telemark, which is one of the largest telemarketers in Washington state.
"The clients of this firm were the real victims in this case," said Attorney General Christine Gregoire. "Instead of taking the time to actually talk to people, Telemark employees made up responses for some people and misrepresented other responses in their haste to meet their quota of calls."
Telemark, with nearly 600 employees in its Tumwater, Auburn and Seattle offices, has a client list which includes U.S. West, Bank of America, "Hands Off Washington", the National Rifle Association and groups pursuing ballot measures on the Kingdome and the Seattle Commons.
The firm was found to have fabricated results of political surveys and to have misrepresented, omitted and falsified information while trying to sell long distance phone services and credit cards.
Among the strategies employed by Telemark were:
- Misrepresenting the amount consumers could save by switching long distance phone service, and telling consumers they wouldn't be switching carriers, when in fact, they were; and
- Sending activated credit cards to consumers after telling them the cards would be sent on a trial basis, and incorrectly informing consumers that they already were approved to receive credit cards.
Political organizations and candidates for office also hired Telemark to conduct fundraising, polling and surveys on particular issues. Telemark was found to have made up answers to some opinion polls, rather than conduct the legitimate polling for which they had been hired.
The Office of the Attorney General first learned of Telemark's alleged actions when an employee, uncomfortable with the firm's tactics, came forward. The lawsuit was filed on April 23, 1996 after an eight-month investigation.
The Oregon Attorney General's Office also signed an agreement with Telemark.
For more information or to file a complaint, call the Attorney General's Office at 1-800-551-4636.