Local News

Group's Telemarketing Tactics May Be Misleading

Posted July 27, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Telephones across the state are ringing with a charitable sales pitch from the Troopers Association, but theAttorney General's Officesays the group has used misleading tactics in the past and may be at it again.

In 1996, the Troopers Association agreed to a court order requiring the caller to tell you he or she is a paid solicitor and that the group isnotaffiliated with the State Highway Patrol.

This week, the Attorney General's Office has received more complaints that the tactics used by the group are aggressive and may be misleading.

When Lynn Johnson got a call from someone last month who said he represented the North Carolina Troopers Association, she started asking questions. She wanted them to send her written material about the group.

"They said 'We can't afford to do that.' I felt if they can't afford to use postage money to send me information, I couldn't afford to donate money to them," said Johnson.

Johnson, who says she wondered who the company really was, made a formal complaint to the Attorney General's Office.

"It's very important that people understand who they're giving to," said Alan Hirsch, Consumer Protection director.

A 1996 court order requires the Troopers Association to be very clear about who they are.

"It's not affiliated with the Highway Patrol. None of the money given to them goes to the Highway Patrol," said Hirsch.

The president of the organization, Charles Lindquist, told WRAL Wednesday that "No complaints have been brought to our attention."

When WRAL asked about where the money goes, he said, "$200,000 or 20 percent of the money goes to us, whichever is greater."

The rest of the money goes to the company making the phone calls for Lindquist's non-profit group. The experience has left Johnson with a bad taste for phone solicitors.

"My telephone is for my use, people to call me, me to call friends and family. It is not to bring aggressive solicitors into my home uninvited," said Johnson.

The Troopers Association has 700 members across the state, including some current and retired members of the State Highway Patrol.

Lindquist said the money they raise pays for drug education in elementary schools and scholarships.