A spokesperson for Orbitz.com says the company is willing to have a conversation with Senate Commerce Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) about concerns he has over its Web marketing partner, Webloyalty, and take steps to address those concerns if possible.
"The chairman has concerns about the nature of the ads themselves," said Orbitz spokesman Brian Hoyt, "and we are willing to have a discussion about that, and about the fact that a customer's credit card information, when they opt in to the program, is transferred to Webloyalty."
Hoyt was responding to the launch of a Senate investigation into "post-transaction" e-commerce marketing companies Webloyalty.com and Vertrue Inc., specificaly a pop-up ad that offers cash back for signing up for an online membership in which they are automatically enrolled.
But while Hoyt said his company would talk with its marketing partner and work with the committee, he also showed some Web loyalty to Webloyalty.
"We have a relationship with Webloyalty because we think they provide value to our customers. What the [Rockefeller] press release doesn't tell you is that they are a company that has millions of customers that are happy with them and they provide valuable discounts and other services to their customers."
He said Webloyalty makes it "easy" for customers to opt out of its cash-back program. He said the committee appears to have concerns about both the ads and the fact that credit card information is transferred over to Webloyalty.
"It is important to note that our customers have to opt in to this program, and that in the terms and conditions it is very clear that their credit card information is going to be transferred over to Webloyalty to participate in that program."
Just how clear is it in those often-lengthy terms and conditions statement? "It says your credit card will be charged on a monthtly basis. I believe it is even in bold letters now and you actually have to input your e-mail address in as well, I believe twice, before you can participate in the program."
That said, Hoyt also said: "We are more than willing to have a dialog with Chairman Rockefeller and his staff and members of the Commerce Committee about this process. We will be working with our vendor Webloyalty to insure we are providing the most ideal customer experience possible. It is in our best interests."
He said less than 1% of the complaints it has gotten are about that service. He also said it is "easy" to opt out of the program. "And for any customer that may not have read the terms and conditions and their credit card, they also make it very easy to refund the money, which is why we like the partnership with Webloyalty."