Pregnancy marketing: Questionable scheme targets women, raises privacy concerns – CBS News
An unusual marketing scheme targeting women nationwide congratulates them on their pregnancies – even if they are not pregnant. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) said it’s received more than 95 reports of what it calls a “questionable marketing scheme.”
In greeting-card style, the marketing materials say, “Holy guacamole! You’re going to avo baby!” Inside, it looked personal with what looks like a handwritten note from someone named “Jenny B,” complete with smudges.
“At that point I was pretty confused and startled because I’m not pregnant,” Lena Ghamrawi said.
Turns out, this was a marketing idea from a company called Mother’s Lounge, a wholesaler of mom and baby products from Utah. Inside the envelope were gift cards that supposedly totaled nearly $250, along with coupons, reports CBS News correspondent Anna Werner.
Ghamrawi said she saw a thread on Reddit and “it appeared that there were others in the country that were receiving this.”
On Facebook, one woman said the letter arrived on the anniversary of her miscarriage. Another said she received a letter addressed to her deceased daughter and reading the “personal” message was “hurtful beyond belief.”
The BBB said it’s “unsure what mailing lists the business is using, but not all of the women who receive these mailings are pregnant.”
“People are very concerned when they get this because they want to know what list they are on that says that they’re pregnant,” said Jane Rupp, president and CEO of the BBB serving northern Nevada and Utah.
The BBB said there’s another issue – the gift cards. They said some consumers in the past “have complained that adding a gift card to their orders [online] appears to increase the shipping cost.”
“The shipping price should not increase if you’re using a gift card or a discount. That’s misleading,” Rupp said.
Mother’s Lounge company officials didn’t respond to our request for comment but said in a statement to other media outlets that the people who received the mailer had at one point “subscribed to an opt-in list for maternity deals and coupons through a third party marketing company” – information it says is “only used internally.”
But Ghamrawi, who happens to also be a privacy lawyer, said to her, that’s bad enough.
“It was really intrusive. I felt like they were assuming really highly sensitive personal information about me in an inappropriate manner,” she said.
The BBB said the added costs with gift cards appear to cover the majority of their value. The agency and CBS News could not reach Mother Lounge. The FTC sent Ghamrawi information on ways to avoid fraud when she complained. The agency told us they take consumers’ reports seriously.
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