QVC, Inc., a TV home shopping channel and one of the world’s largest multimedia retailers, has agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it made false and unsubstantiated claims about three types of dietary supplements in violation of an FTC order, and about an anti-cellulite skin cream in violation of the FTC Act.
The agency alleged that QVC violated a 2000 FTC order barring it from making deceptive claims for dietary supplements. According to the Commission, QVC aired approximately 200 programs in which false and unsubstantiated claims were made about For Women Only weight-loss pills; Lite Bites weight-loss food bars and shakes; and Bee-Alive Royal Jelly energy supplements. In addition, the complaint charged that QVC violated Section 5 of the FTC Act by making unsubstantiated claims about Lipofactor Cellulite Target Lotion.
The settlement requires QVC to pay $6 million for consumer redress and a $1.5 million civil penalty. In addition, the settlement expands the prior FTC order and further bars QVC from making unsubstantiated claims that any drug or cosmetic eliminates or reduces a user’s cellulite.
“QVC aired ads that weren’t true and violated an FTC order,” said Eileen Harrington, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Simply put, we aren’t going to let QVC get away with this. The company is responsible for the product claims made on its programs, and we expect that going forward, QVC will do a better job for its audience and make sure that its programs are truthful and not deceptive.”
The advertisements allegedly included unsubstantiated claims that the weight-loss supplements could cause people to lose significant amounts of weight, maintain their weight loss for a long time, and prevent carbohydrates from being stored as fat; false claims that the weight-loss supplements could prevent dietary fat from being absorbed in peoples’ bodies; unsubstantiated claims that the energy-enhancing supplements could reduce fatigue and increase energy in people with severe fatigue and other physical ailments; and unsubstantiated claims that Lipofactor lotion could reduce cellulite, including measurable decreases in the sizes of individuals’ arms, legs, and abdomens.
The Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Litigation filed the complaint in federal district court at the FTC’s request in March 2004; attorneys from both agencies worked on the litigation.
The Commission vote authorizing a new settlement order to be filed was 4-0. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania entered the new order on March 4, 2009.
NOTE: A stipulated final order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendants of a law violation. A stipulated order requires approval by the court and has the force of law when signed by the judge.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.
(FTC File No. X04-0057)