In light of the new FTC rules, do you need to delete old testimonials? There was a lot of concern about this issue when the new guidelines were announced.
Quick Recap: Part of the new FTC rules stated that any testimonials used should reflect the current opinion of the person giving the testimonial. The important word here being “current.” Just how current does the testimonial need to be?
Here’s some clarification from the interview between Jim Edwards and FTC assistant deputy, Mr. Rich Cleveland that addresses this question.
FTC Opinion: The FTC’s opinion seems to be that it is misleading to continue to use a testimonial if you don’t know that the person who gave it still feels the same way about you or your product.
Depending on the company and the product, the FTC considers testimonials that are two to four years old to be stale.
And let’s face it. Some sites use testimonials that are so old they might as well be hieroglyphs written on stone tablets.
Now two to four years is still a broad range. How does the FTC determine which are “stale” testimonies for your business? According to Mr. Cleveland, the more risk to the consumer, the fresher they expect your business testimonials to be.
In general terms, “high risk to consumers” could include businesses that handle life saving equipment or risky investments. “Low risk to consumers” could include info products on how to grow a better garden.
Besides risk, I can also understand how some topics would be more time sensitive than others, and therefore, you’d want testimonials that were relevant with today’s economy.
Solution: If you have any old testimonials, check back with the people who gave it and ask if they still approve of your using their recommendation. Keep their approval letter (or email) as a record in case the FTC ever asks you about it.
What if you have a testimonial over four years old that you can’t verify for relevance because the person who wrote it died? Or maybe you just can’t locate them. The FTC recommends removing those.
Personal Observation: I have to say that I felt a lot better after hearing that I had margin of two to four years on using a testimonial before it needed to be verified.
I think this new FTC guideline is a good thing. If a business can’t give me real, current testimonials - and they aren’t brand new - then they’re probably not a business I want to do business with.
Too many charlatans are riding on the coat-tails of old, past glories - things they did a decade ago - with no recent success stories to support their claims. That can be a big problem for consumers when those businesses are vacation spots or they sell how-to investment information.
On the other hand, I think it’s a shame we can’t use an old testimonial by someone who’s deceased. If Norman Vincent Peale endorsed someone’s book or services, I’d like to know about it.
What do you think? Do you care if companies use testimonies that are older than 4 years? Leave a comment and let us know.
If you want to listen to the entire interview between Jim Edwards and Mr. Rich Cleveland, Assistant Deputy at the FTC, you can hear it here: www.igottatellyou.com/blog/ftc-change-interview.
As always, please note that no legal advice is dispensed in this article or on our website, and any information or opinions shared are for educational and entertainment purposes only. If you want legal advice, please seek the services of an attorney for your particular circumstances.
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