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Utah company under fire for ‘questionable’ marketing scheme targeting pregnant women

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah company is making national headlines for what some say is a deceptive marketing tactic targeting pregnant women — but reaching lots of women who are not pregnant in the process.

Mothers Lounge, a Pleasant Grove wholesale distributor of baby products, has sent what appear to be handwritten notes of congratulations, gift cards and coupons to women throughout the U.S. and Canada. But on social media and complaints to the Better Business Bureau, KSL.com reports some women say the campaign is intrusive, deceitful and poorly conceived.

On Reddit, some women complained that the cards were sent to their parents’ house, prompting awkward questions. One woman said on Facebook that she received a card on the anniversary of her miscarriage; another wrote that she received a card addressed to her deceased daughter, according to CBS News.

The cards all say, “Holy guacamole! You’re going to avo baby!” on the front, while the inside features identical messages signed by a “Jenny B”: “I’m so excited for you!” it says. “I hope you like these.”

The notes have been written about by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Yahoo, CBS and more. They were first reported on earlier this year but received new attention after another round of mailers reached lots of non-pregnant women in October.

The Better Business Bureau serving Northern Nevada and Utah went so far as to post a warning about the notes on Oct. 25. The BBB said the cards are “not from a friend, but part of a questionable marketing scheme.”

“BBB is unsure what mailing lists the business is using, but not all of the women who receive these mailings are pregnant,” the warning says. “In the past, consumers have complained that adding a gift card to their orders appears to increase the shipping cost. … This increase appears to cover the majority of the cost of the gift card.”

The gift cards, which appear to total nearly $250 in value, are for motherhood and baby businesses affiliated with Mothers Lounge.

It says “Jenny B” likely refers to Mothers Lounge owner Jeanette Pierce.

In an emailed statement, Mothers Lounge marketing director Scott Anderson called the mailings “a heartfelt note which includes gift cards with proof of activation, and coupons to new mothers.”

“The qualified recipients for this mailer have, at one point, subscribed to an opt-in list for maternity deals and coupons through a third party marketing company,” Anderson said. “All information from third party companies is only used internally for Mothers Lounge and is not sold or used for anything else other than the direct marketing of Mothers Lounge.”

He called Mothers Lounge a “proud Utah company” that has served “millions of families” and thanked its customers.

Anna Werner, consumer investigative correspondent for CBS This Morning, said women who receive the cards can complain to the business or the Federal Trade Commission.

“But ultimately, probably, just throw it in the trash and hope your mom didn’t see it,” she said.

The Utah Division of Consumer Protection spokeswoman Jennifer Bolton told KSL.com that the agency does not disclose whether complaints have been filed against a business.

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