1-800-Flowers.com to Drop Partnership With Affinion

Dec 30, 2009 1:14 AM  By

Multititle mailer 1-800-flowers.com said on Dec. 23 that that it will not renew its contract for third-party administration of its membership program with affinity marketing firm Affinion, and will eliminate data-passing of credit card information.

Joe Pititto, a spokesman for 1-800-Flowers.com, said a decision to develop a membership rewards program in house has yet to be decided. But Petitto said the announcement is part of its ongoing efforts to enhance customer experience in all of its brands and channels.

“We already have many elements, including our very successful Fresh Rewards Loyalty Program and Fresh Reminders Service, which could be expanded to include other benefits and services,” Pititto said. “With that said, our recent announcement is intended to convey our decision to end our contract with our third-party program administrator and eliminate the passing of customer credit card information to a third party. “

In November, Affinion and fellow affinity marketing firms Vertrue and Webloyalty, were targeted by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation in its investigative report “Aggressive Sales Tactics on the Internet and Their Impact on American Consumers.”

Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said its investigation has shown that the three marketers exploit consumers’ expectations about online shopping to trick them into joining their membership clubs, and that consumers often do not know these companies have their credit card numbers until they start seeing charges on their bank statements.

According to the report, Affinion, Vertrue and Webloyalty and their e-commerce partners have earned over $1.4 billion in revenue by “misleading” buyers into joining their programs.

“Millions of Americans are getting hit with these mystery charges every month,” Rockefeller said in a statement. “We have to do all we can to protect the hard working families relying on us to look out for their wallets and well-being.”