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DebraW
04-01-2007, 12:29 PM
Police dump telemarketing firm
Investigation began after Journal stories on misleading ticket-selling practices used by Xentel


Charles Rusnell
The Edmonton Journal
Thursday, January 04, 2007

Edmonton Police Chief Mike Boyd has ended the service's long relationship with a commercial sports and entertainment event marketing company that employed misleading representations in its telemarketing of so-called benefit fundraisers.

Edmonton Fire Chief Randy Wolsey said this week his department will also review its past dealings and future relationship with Xentel DM Inc.

Alberta Government Services, now known as Service Alberta, began investigating Xentel in March after a series of stories in The Journal exposed the misleading telemarketing practices employed by the Calgary-based company for its Old-timers' Hockey Challenge at Rexall Place on March 13, 2006.

Thousands of Albertans received calls from Xentel telemarketers asking them to buy tickets to the annual game between the NHL Old-timers and the Edmonton City Police Faded Blues.

In its sales pitch and its ticket invoices, Xentel led some consumers to believe the game was a fundraising event and consumers were making a donation to a charity. In fact, only $25,000 of the estimated more than $250,000 raised by the company went to charity. The Journal also heard from readers who said Xentel telemarketers had implied they were calling on behalf of the police service.

The government investigation confirmed The Journal's findings and found Xentel had committed six breaches of the provincial Fair Trading Act.

In addition to paying $2,500 toward the cost of the investigation, Xentel, a publicly traded company, also agreed to make several changes to its telemarketing practices that will effectively require the company to tell consumers they are dealing with a for-profit corporation and not a charity.

Boyd's spokesman, Staff Sgt. Greg Alcorn, said the chief told representatives of the Faded Blues on Dec. 1 they would not be allowed to participate in the annual Old-timers' Challenge game until the government investigation of Xentel was completed.

Alcorn said now that the investigation is completed, the Faded Blues may only participate in the game after seeking approval from the chief.

But Det. Rocky Maze, a longtime organizer of the game, said the Faded Blues will no longer be involved with Xentel.

"The chief said no and we respect that decision," Maze said Tuesday, adding that, "when we told Xentel we couldn't do it anymore, they said, 'That's fine, we will get the firefighters to do it.' "

Fire department spokeswoman Nikki Booth confirmed Tuesday the firefighters union was prepared to participate in the Old-timers' Hockey Challenge with the money raised going to Alberta Muscular Dystrophy.

Booth said Wolsey had not seen the previous Journal stories about Xentel and was unaware of the government investigation.

"We will be reviewing our involvement with that game," Booth said. "There have been some talks with Xentel but we have not agreed to anything at this point."

Booth stressed that neither the chief nor the fire department is directly involved with any of the fundraising conducted by the firefighters in conjunction with Xentel. But she agreed that, like police officers on the Faded Blues, Xentel uses the public's positive association with firefighters for marketing purposes.

Said Maze: "It would be difficult for Xentel to put on a game between the NHL Old-timers and some electricians."

Booth said the firefighters have a relationship with Xentel that dates back nearly 20 years and they have never had any complaints from the public. Xentel helps the firefighters raise money for the Firefighters Burn Treatment Society through a golf tournament and a baseball game.

But she said the fundraising practices employed by Xentel for those past events will also be reviewed.

"Chief Wolsey contacted Xentel today to set up a meeting to discuss all of this with them," Booth said.

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The Edmonton Journal 2007

DebraW
04-01-2007, 12:45 PM
In its sales pitch and its ticket invoices, Xentel led some consumers to believe the game was a fundraising event and consumers were making a donation to a charity. In fact, only $25,000 of the estimated more than $250,000 raised by the company went to charity. The Journal also heard from readers who said Xentel telemarketers had implied they were calling on behalf of the police service.

I was one of those people who purchased tickets to the game last March believing that my monies were going to charity. I am not impressed with only $25,000 going to charity.

It was a fun event and I enjoyed myself but I would have re-thought my purchase had I known the actual amount going to charity. Being unemployed (i.e. dead broke and than some) I am precise about where my donations go and I do feel misled. :?