Why AutoResponders can be Legally Required
Copyright 2004 Brian Kindsvater
Do you market your products or services via the Internet to
customers in California? Many businesses do, but hardly anyone is
aware of a little known law in California that is intended to keep
customers from being scammed by unknown website operators.
And one effect of the law is to make it more likely that you will
need an autoresponder to comply with your disclosure requirements.
In a nutshell, before selling to California residents you must
disclose your real name and address. California buyers are also
entitled to receive that information by email, and it must be
provided within five days of their request.
Here is what the law says. California Business and Professions Code
section 17538(d) states in part:
'A vendor conducting business through the Internet or any other
electronic means of communication shall do all of the following when
the transaction involves a buyer located in this state:
(1) Before accepting any payment or processing any debit or credit
charge or funds transfer, the vendor shall disclose to the buyer in
writing or by electronic means of communication, such as e-mail or
an on-screen notice, the vendor's return and refund policy, the
legal name under which the business is conducted and, except as
provided [ in other sections ] the complete street address from
which the business
is actually conducted.
(2) If the disclosure of the vendor's legal name and address
information required by this subdivision is made by on-screen
notice, all of the following shall apply:
(A) The disclosure of the legal name and address information shall
appear on any of the following: (i) the first screen displayed when
the vendor's electronic site is accessed, (ii) on the screen on
which goods or services are first offered, (iii) on the screen on
which a buyer may place the order for goods or services, (iv) on the
screen on which the buyer may enter payment information, such as a
credit card account number, or (v) for nonbrowser-based
technologies, in a manner that gives the user a reasonable
opportunity to review that information. The communication of that
disclosure shall not be structured to be smaller or less legible
than the text of the offer of the goods or services.
(B) The disclosure of the legal name and address information shall
be accompanied by an adjacent statement describing how the buyer may
receive the information at the buyer's e-mail address. The vendor
shall provide the disclosure information to the buyer at the buyer's
e-mail address within five days of receiving the buyer's request.'
The best way to make sure that this disclosure information is
provided, and provided in a timely manner, is to setup an
There are good resources available that will help you select the
best autoresponder for your needs. One is located at http://affiliatemegaguide.com/autoresponder-review.shtml
and the other is at http://autoresponderreview.com
One simple solution is to include an appropriately placed statement
that customers can obtain the information about your company by
emailing a request to a specified email address. That email address
is setup with an autoresponder to automatically return the requested
Complying with the law can be easy. Knowing what laws need to be
complied with can sometimes be the more difficult task.
About the author:
Brian Kindsvater has been marketing online since 1994 and Brian
Kindsvater's legal articles can be found at