I had done a commercial for an Internet aggregating company called FreeScore. This commercial offered people a week of free access to their credit scores and then required them to pay for further such access.
This commercial was red meat for the Ben Stein haters left over from the Expelled days. They bombarded the Times with letters. They confused (or some of them seemingly confused ) FreeScore with other companies that did not have FreeScore's unblemished record with consumer protection agencies. (FreeScore has a perfect record.) They demanded of the high pooh-bahs at the Times that they fire me because of what they called a conflict of interest.
Here's a good overview of the bait-and-switch operation:
How far has Ben Stein sunk? Far enough that I feel compelled to resuscitate the Ben Stein Watch, just to share this unfunny and positively harmful TV ad which is now being aired:
“I went to freescore.com and found out my score for free”, says Ben, while an annoying squirrel holds up a sign with the word “FREE” in some horrible brush-script font.
A few points are worth noting here. First, the score itself is not very useful to consumers. What’s useful is the report — if there’s an error on the report, then the consumer can try to rectify it. Secondly, and much more importantly, if you want a free credit report, there’s only one place to go: annualcreditreport.com. That’s the place where the big three credit-rating agencies will give you a genuinely free copy of your credit report once a year, as required by federal law.
You won’t be surprised to hear that freescore.com is not free: in order to get any information out of them at all, you have to authorize them to charge you a $29.95 monthly fee. They even extract a dollar out of you up front, just to make sure that money is there.
Me, I'd just keep quiet, or apologize publicly, but Stein evidently thinks that never backing down is somehow good for him.
Anyway, if you need to do this sort of thing do use annualcreditreport.com: