The Federal Trade Commission has given final approval to a consent agreement settling charges that Blenheim Expositions, Inc., a Winter Park, Florida-based company that produces a variety of franchise trade shows and expositions, misrepresented the results of a Gallup Poll featuring franchisee success and earnings rates in its advertisements promoting the International Franchise Expo, the largest of these trade shows. The Commission?s action makes the consent order provisions binding on the respondent.
Under the final order, Blenheim is prohibited from misrepresenting the sales, income or profits that prospective franchise owners have earned or can or will earn; or the chances of success or success rates of franchise owners, unless it possesses and relies upon competent and reliable evidence, which when appropriate must be competent and reliable scientific evidence, to support the claims.
Further, in connection with the advertising, promotion or marketing of any franchise show, Blenheim is prohibited from misrepresenting the validity, results, contents, conclusions, or interpretations of any survey, test, poll or study.
Additionally, Blenheim is required -- for the next five years -- to distribute a copy of the FTC's consumer education publication titled "A Consumer's Guide to Buying a Franchise" to as many as 500 people attending each trade show the company promotes. Blenheim is responsible for the costs incurred in reproducing and distributing the brochure. The booklet will advise consumers about their obligations as a franchise owner, how to shop for franchise opportunities, and the right questions to ask before investing.
The consent agreement was announced for a publiccomment period on Sept. 27, 1995. The Commission vote to issue it in final form occurred on Dec. 22, and was 5-0.
NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute admission of a law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $10,000.
A news release summarizing the complaint and consent agreement was issued at the time the Commission accepted the consent agreement for public comment. Copies of that release and of the complaint and final order are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web Site at: http://www.ftc.gov.
(FTC Docket No. C-3633)
(FTC File No. 932 3219)