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Tentative Settlement

March 28, 2001|Bloomberg News

Netpliance Inc., which recently stopped marketing its stripped-down computer for e-mail and Internet access, tentatively agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a charge it violated a federal rule on mail-order and telephone sales. The company reached a preliminary settlement with the Federal Trade Commission's staff to resolve an agency investigation of its marketing practices, without admitting or denying the FTC's charges, according to a regulatory filing. The settlement must be approved by the FTC's commissioners and by a judge before it becomes final, the company said in its filing. A spokeswoman for the Austin, Texas-based company declined to elaborate. FTC spokeswoman Claudia Bourne Farrell declined to comment. Netpliance marketed a so-called Internet appliance it called the i-opener, which was designed to be a low-cost way for consumers to surf the Internet and use e-mail without paying for a full-fledged personal computer. The company sold the i-opener for as little as $99, below Netpliance's costs, planning to profit on monthly fees for Internet service. Shares of Netpliance, which sold at $18 in its initial public offering, closed up 3 cents at 44 cents on Nasdaq.

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