The NASD announced Wednesday it has fined Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith $5 million for supervisory failures, impermissible sales contests, unsuitable mutual fund switches and other violations between 2001 and 2004 at two of its call centers, in Hopewell, N.J., and Jacksonville, Fla. The firm has also been prohibited from staging any other sales contests for three years and is required to hire a consultant to oversee its compliance programs.

In conjunction, the NASD has issued an investor alert to make people aware of sales-oriented, rather than customer service-oriented, call centers.

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