Associations cannot restrict member competition


FTC / Federal Trade CommissionAdvertising was implicated in an FTC final order addressing just what associations can and cannot do with their members. In particular, the organizations may not restrict competition.

The order was the result of proceeding in which the public was given a chance to participate.

In the case of The National Association of Teachers of Singing, the FTC said it could not prohibit its members from attempting to lure students away from other members.

More of interest to the media is the case of the National Association of Residential Property Managers. Discussing the particulars of that situation, FTC stated the Association “…must stop restraining members from soliciting competitors’ clients or engaging in comparative advertising that is not false or deceptive.”

In each case, the associations had listed the restraints in their code of ethics, and in each case, they agreed to remove them.

RBR-TVBR observation: In the case of NARPM, the FTC decision may result in a small improvement in advertising results – very small.

In the case of NATS, we can only believe that from now on it will be rare indeed for a member to bring a prized student to a NATS function like a luncheon or lawn bowling tournament. “Say Bob, that’s an awfully fine sounding contralto you’ve got there – would you mind sharing a phone number?”