Am I in Trouble with the FTC Because of IHOP ?

Ok, so here is the deal. I really, really like going to IHOP for breakfast. I go there all the time because they have this  omelette that only has 370 calories and I think it tastest great ! (especially with Salsa).  I liked it so much i tweeted about it a little while back.

So today, I went back again. Had the omellete and a large fruit bowl. Total listed calories, 480. Perfect. Tastes good. Low cal.

Then horror of horrors, the manager comped my breakfast.

He couldn’t understand why I was visibly shaken.  I thanked him. Left a $20 tip (i wanted to be able say I left enough to more than pay for the meal).  Then I immediately called my law firm of Bakem, Shakem and Takem and had them assign their best attorneys to figure this out.

I don’t know what my disclosure requirements are going forward and whether or not I need to fill out any forms.

Can I tweet about IHOP again after Dec 1st ? Am I under some special reporting obligation ?

Does any one have any connections at the FTC that can clarify things for me ???? I read this article, and I just dont know what to do !

Im open to all advice !!

47 thoughts on “Am I in Trouble with the FTC Because of IHOP ?

  1. Actually Mark, if you just publicly state in no uncertain terms that you are a compensated endorser of IHOP, you should be in the clear. Now, whether or not you should declare that omelette on your income taxes is a whole other can of worms…

    Comment by nicci6 -

  2. Mark is not truly concerned about his IHOP visit. He is making fun of how ridiculous the government’s reach is getting.

    Sincerely,

    Captain Obvious

    p.s. If this ruins all the fun of watching the comments, Mark, then my bad :-O

    Comment by Jeff Nabers -

  3. Wow, some of the rage-full comments that completely miss your point amaze me. It seems perfectly clear however that with your general demeanor you are in the clear since you more then paid for the meal regardless of their “comping” methods.

    Also, on the contrary I think you may be universally in a better position since you don’t “need” the benefits from any endorsement. Personally if I was in a position to endorse anything on a blog or otherwise, I would happily share which products I kept because I felt to were good enough to keep. The “negative” advertising on something that was given to me for free or not would not have any disclosure since the item (if not purchased by me first) would be very quickly returned.

    What do you think?

    Comment by andrei2k -

  4. Steve Garfield – early video blog pioneer did a funny video on this

    Disclaimer: I have no business relation to this clip and Steve did not pay me to post it here, however I live in the same city and have run in to him a few times and said hello

    Comment by brucefenton -

  5. That’s hilarious Mark! Of course you’re making this up. No IHOP is gonna comp a billionaire. Besides, your ESPN buddies in that commercial send the tab in as an expense, right?

    I think it would be a funny protest is bloggers just claim extravagant gifting by the companies behind anything they talk about. So if you’re talking about your new Dell laptop, you might say that your friend Mike sent it to you and had it delivered by hookers. That covers all the FTC requirements, right?

    Comment by boscoh -

  6. This comment is unrelated to the blog. http://www.zorgece.net

    Comment by muzikhol -

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  9. I had a very clever and funny response planned but it got all corrupted and un-funny because of the stupidity of this law

    Comment by brucefenton -

  10. I LOVE IHOP ALSO!
    Please read please read:) i need advise in my dream.

    Hey Mark Cuban how are you doing? my name is Gabriel Blanquel, I live in Grand Prairie, TX, I am 15 years old, I graduated from High School last year my birth date is on November, 18 and i have a big dream of becoming a basketball player for the Dallas Mavericks i am a big fan of you and the team and i am 6.0 tall I weigh 175 i really don’t know what the age is for entering the NBA, i know i am pretty young for the NBA but its practice till then if god allows me to enter in the future. But even if i was allowed to train with the team i would be grateful i know i have a lot of potential but i am looking to get better if i have any chance of training with the team let me know “please” i will be willing to do anything for that opportunity. I am really putting all i got into basketball i am looking forward to attend collage basketball. I play everyday, 2 times a day for at least 2 hours each time. I’ve been playing seance 11 i have a lot of potential and i have high confidence in my game play. I Know this isn’t the best way to contact a person but i am in desperate need of advice on were to start and what to do. I’m really putting everything into basketball and praying to god that he will open a door for me. Please if you can email me at gabriel_blanquel@yahoo.com on were you think i should start to be able to succeed my goal and dream on becoming a NBA player.
    Thanks for reading if you think its possible please, please give me a call at (214)650-6491 even if its from a payphone again my name is Gabriel. Once you get my number please delete this comment so weird people wont prank or call my phone. Also i will be going to the next games on Sunday and this Thursday coming up!:). Again thanks for reading and GO MAVS!!

    Please get back at me as soon as you can.

    My Myspace page link :)
    http://www.myspace.com/gabriel_blanquel

    Comment by gabrielblanquel -

  11. This FTC is a serious joke…they throw out a $11k threat with no clarification about how to play by the rules.

    Comment by bryanphelps -

  12. I don’t come here nearly as much as I should – always leave cracking up :) thanks for the Friday Smile

    Comment by miamism -

  13. This comment is unrelated to the blog. I have an original traveling show idea for you called 50 States N Smokin. Marajuana is a prominent and growing fixture with the turnover of generations. This traveling show would cast one host (like wild on or Art mann presents) and would go to a state to set up interviews with health, political and law officials as well as current and former users and dispensaries(possible round table discussions). This show would not be a glorification of marajuana however it would be more informative and comical as there would be many segments. Every state has a different situation in terms of what role marajuana plays, smoking weed is habitual and a lot of times ritualistic, travling to different parts of the country would display each regions specific habits and rituals Ie.(kids in the country might smoke out of an apple & suburban kids might smoke out of a niece glass piece) . Faces can be covered for those speaking of or smoking on camera. This show would be the first of its kind and the timing would be right considering marajuana has become less and less demonized, The state of CA has a bill to legalize and tax marajuana in order to bail the state out. The closest thing to a current marajuana based show on TV has been weeds which became a huge sucess. I have many segment idea’s as this show would be a content rich show not just simply interviewing stoners. There are many ways you can go with a show like this but I feel it fits in what your target audience is, males 18-35 (Im guessing)… you have MMA, Art Mann presents and Bikini shows,I can guarntuee a Marajuna based traveling show if done correctly(Informative,Content rich and funny) would fit right in perfectly. Point blank no one has a show like this and there is a huge smoking population that would have great interest in checking out this show. There are only few networks that can do this, HDNET targeting the hip and young would be the best fit. Also a level of controversy adds to any shows allure and this is a controversial topic.

    Comment by thaoshow1 -

  14. A consumer who purchases a product with his or her own money and praises it on a personal blog or on an electronic message board will not be deemed to be providing an endorsement.

    Therefore you are good to go on the first tweet but i guess cannot tweet/blog on the meal they comped you for.

    So basically as a consumer if you pay for it you can talk about it all you want.

    Love your blog. Good luck to the Mavs

    Comment by lakergirl1 -

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  16. Here’s what you nee to do:
    1. Immediately divest yourself of any Dine Equity stock.
    2. Never let an IHOP or Applebee’s manager comp anything for you.
    3. Don’t trade out Mavs tickets for an omelet.
    4. Notify your NY law firm that you have probably broken some obscure SEC rule AGAIN
    5. Was at the Monday night game. Goodin looks like a much better choice that Gortat.
    GO MAVS!!!!

    Comment by agman65 -

  17. Pingback: Dallas Blog, Daily News, Dallas Politics, Opinion, and Commentary FrontBurner Blog D Magazine » Blog Archive » Mark Cuban Fears FTC Reprimand Over IHOP Meal

  18. You received a free meal because of your celebrity status. So now if you blog about IHOP, or any other thing you like, you have three choices:

    1) Disclose that you receive or have received free services from them
    2) Don’t talk publicly about stuff you received for free due to your celebrity status (if you must, see #1)
    2) Don’t accept free services from them.

    Seems reasonable to me.

    Comment by tcartony -

  19. Tell you what – try going in and ordering the Rooty Tooty Fresh & Fruity and see if they call you out for that. If you can get away with ordering that, the omelette should be no problem! ;-)

    You’re right – the FTC ruling offers very little guidance. Maybe we should all get tattoos with a disclaimer, to ensure we’re covered.

    Comment by scottmonty -

  20. Simply have an auto-generated disclaimer on ALL your posts/tweets that says, “Received products/services mentionted for free” (provided it’s not illegal to say you received something for free when you didn’t). Then just post away as normal…

    Comment by ericypb -

  21. @kgosfm

    Who’s to say Mr. Cuban didn’t just write that to promote the IHOP breakfast he got for free? If he paid for it there wouldn’t be any question.

    Comment by dannychughes -

  22. Are you or are you not implying that the IHOP omelette breakfast is a weight loss supplement? The FTC wants to know this.

    Comment by freeway2000 -

  23. Only the A-list bloggers like yourself have to worry about this as no one even knows my blog exists!

    But it is still pretty stupid.

    Why doesn’t the FTC require the big news organizations like CNN to do full disclosures? I guess that would take up 23 hours of CNN programming.

    Again, dumb government.

    Question: If our government continues to do dumb things, what does that say about the governed since we are a democracy (republic)?

    Comment by Herschel -

  24. That gave me a solid laugh for the day. Gotta Love IHOP.

    Comment by performancepartsj -

  25. Inc.com has a good summary on this @:
    http://technology.inc.com/blog/2009/10/ftc_to_crack_down_on_blogger_p_1.html?partner=rss

    And here is the link to the FTC official guide:
    http://ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005endorsementguidesfnnotice.pdf

    From the Inc. article:

    Here’s what you need to know:

    1. When a blogger accepts cash or free products from their subjects, it’s considered a paid endorsement.

    2. Paid endorsements have to be disclosed in the posting.

    3. This includes having a company send you a free laptop, so you can review the laptop and then you conveniently keep it afterwards.

    4. If you don’t disclose to your audience, you can face fines in the five figure range.

    5. If one of your readers is mislead by your posting (without disclosure) to buy a lousy product and they get ripped off in the process; then they can come after you for damages.

    Comment by ivyad -

  26. Pingback: My FTC Disclosure, and have you done yours yet?

  27. A FINAL THOUGHT. Sorry. Forgot to include previously. But very very important I feel.

    If you ever, ever and you probably will, steal or borrow from the next table over at either IHOP or Waffle House, someone elses pancake syrup, then be prepaired for trouble. Legal trouble or personal trouble. When someone turns their back or leaves the table for a few minutes, that does NOT give you the right to take their syrup. Even if the syrup is for your scrumptous cheese “high calorie” 3 Cuban egg omelette.

    You show self control at your table always. And DO NOT BORROW. Borrowing is for wimps. Ask your waitress nicely for seconds on syrup as you just ran out and am a syrup bum to the imff degree. admit it.

    Then and only then will you stay out of legal IHOP/Waffle House Restaurant trouble. Tip graciously, but not more than $35 dollars. Otherwise your waitress may think you are picking up on her or bribing her for favors on your next stop in.

    I could give more IHOP/Waffle House?Denney’s advice but Blog Mav is not paying me enough. In fact nothing.

    So here I stop and say “Happy Morning Eatings to Everyone” and
    order up. But pay your way. Always! – bye, patrick

    Comment by artistinsantabarbara -

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  29. Those Wild Wild Webs. Can I get the phone number for Bakem, Shakem and Takem? I’m in the same boat. http://twitter.com/DigitalRoyalty/statuses/4618974866

    Comment by amydigitalroyalty -

  30. I’m a bit confused. I thought ya was a Waffle House regular. Founders Tom Forkner and Joe Rogers, Sr. began serving customers in 1955 at the first Waffle House. Waffle House is open 24 hours 365 days a year. Headquartered in Norcross, GA Waffle House operates more than 1500 restaurants. I think I’m getting Kevin Costner’s character “Roy” in Tin Cup confused with Mr. Cuban in real life. Roy is the one who swears by Waffle House. They go there and dine for every celebratory occasion. If I manage to finally finishing writing “Tin Cup II” with is unauthorized since I am not consigned by Warner Bros studios, then I too am subjecgt to legal intervention by the lawyers of Warner Bros. Nothing new to me. As this has happened before with Paramount Pictures. So maybe I should just state right now here and for the record, “I am not writing the sequel to Tin Cup entitled Tin Cup II” and I never eat at IHOP, and Mr. Cuban possibly does not eat at Waffle House therefor escapes any FTC litigation for all his early morning breakfeast endeavors, wheather IHOP or Waffle House. Bottomless cup of coffee, thats all we guys want in the morning. Good coffee!!!

    Comment by artistinsantabarbara -

  31. you mean to tell me you dont have a personal chef? Not even in my drunken 2 AM college days would I hit up IHOP!

    Comment by wwwmavcowticketscom -

  32. Veggie Omelette For Me
    With mushrooms, green peppers,
    onions and oven-roasted tomatoes.
    360 cal

    Fresh Fruit Bowl For Me
    A light and refreshing bowl
    of seasonal fruit.
    110 cal

    There is no 370 calorie omelette. Did you figure in 10 calories for the salsa?

    src: http://www.ihop.com/docs/menupdf.pdf

    Comment by growhappy -

  33. You’re right to be wary, Mark. You know you can never be too careful these days.

    @photonicjo: too funny.
    @dannychughes: you completely blew it.

    oh, btw, GO MAVS! I like the new additions to the team, wish we could’ve gotten Gortat, and sorry we lost Bass and his energy, but this should be a very good season…

    Comment by kgosfm -

  34. LOL! Can I just tell you that I am a TV sports reporter in southern california and I troll your blog for ideas. You’re a genius and you always have something for the media to think about! Anyhoo, I appreciate your blog and did you know that the sports business journal cited you in this very compelling article (http://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/article/63034) and now the NHL for one has begun hiring print reporters to provide content for their websites? Anyhoo, I don’t think you’re in trouble with the FTC because you disclosed that you were later comped a meal- also disagree with you- you should NOT break news on your own website. You should develop relationships with print and TV and let them- it helps both of you when people tune into their product. I think the team website should provide exclusive content–features, special blogs, etc just not break news.

    Comment by tanyallyon -

  35. Pingback: econoblog.info » FTC/Blogger Silliness Defined

  36. That depends…

    …did you take more than your fair share of condiments?

    Comment by Ike Pigott -

  37. Pingback: Basketball Blog.com – The Best Basketball Blogs Resource Online » Blog Archive » Am I in Trouble with the FTC Because of IHOP ?

  38. Puhleez.

    This is a good rule. I want to know who’s on the take. That’s relevant info to me!

    Comment by Michael F. Martin -

  39. I’ll be selling bets on Mark Cuban’s cholesterol level. The over/under is 230.

    Comment by loucons -

  40. So…if I go and buy some IHOP stocks based on this information….

    Comment by photonicjo -

  41. I swear your blog has more trolls than any other…

    The problem doesn’t seem to be YOU as much as Twitter. What is considered personal discourse on Twitter and what is business advertisement. I doubt there are any precedents in place as far as legal action. It’s a bit stupid, really.

    Comment by exit1200 -

  42. Well played, Mark. Thanks for the laugh.

    I think that the spirit of the new rule is sound, but legislators seldom create laws that match the spirit of any intentions thanks to equivocations and the desire to avoid being a lightning rod.

    Comment by cincyfan -

  43. A teaspoon of their syrup is more than 370cal.

    Also, your shady law firm sued me last year…Bastards.

    Comment by mmattox1 -

  44. Pingback: Wait, We Can Get Free Stuff Blogging? And We Missed That Gravy Train Entirely? « Around The Sphere

  45. You have the right to remain silent.
    Everything you say can, and will, be used against you in a court of law.
    You have the right to an attorney.
    If you cannot afford an att….oh wait.

    Comment by nhopkins1394 -

  46. Why don’t you try paying for your breakfast like every other human being that walks into IHOP.

    Comment by dannychughes -

  47. Let’s start with eliminating email correspondence with Nigeria and work from there, mmmk?

    Comment by chrisyoura -

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