ADT cited in Conn.

Conn. Consumer Protection chief calls flyers "false advertising." Free speech advocates come to ADT's defense
Monday, October 1, 2007

HARTFORD, Conn.--In a case that some critics say is an attack on free speech, the Connecticut Consumer Protection chief cited ADT under Connecticut's false advertising laws for leafleting a neighborhood shortly after a triple murder occurred.
In Early August, three members of the Petit family of Cheshire were murdered in a gruesome home invasion. Shortly thereafter, ADT leafleted the area with flyers entitled "A Sign of the Times."
Saying, in a statement, that he was "outraged" when he heard about the leaflets, Conn. Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell contacted ADT, which agreed to cease and desist from "soliciting or advertising in close proximity to an area in which a tragic event took place in a manner that could be construed as capitalizing upon a tragic event," according to a DCP statement.
Farrell said this order "establishes a precedent that behavior of this sort should not take place ... While this is not the 'false advertising' that CUPTA [the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act] typically regulates, I believe that it's important in this case to push the envelope, to get the message across to ADT and others who might engage in this kind of behavior, that this is simply not acceptable."
Newspaper editorials, including the Hartford Courant, called the flyers an "offensive appeal to fear," but said DCP was out of line in citing ADT for violating Connecticut's Unfair Trade Practice Law. "There was nothing false or even misleading about the leaflets," an Aug. 23 Hartford Courant editorial read. The editorial speculated that the decision would never have held up in court. ADT did not contest the ruling, however, agreeing instead to donate $1,000 to charity. Ann Lindstrom, director of corporate communications for ADT said the ADT office in Wallingford, Conn. received numerous inquiries about security systems after the murders.
It is standard business practice to leave flyers at neighboring homes when ADT visits a customer's home, Lindstrom said. "Our intention was not to offend, but to provide information and to offer our services," she explained.