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Rent-to-own operators Aaron’s Inc., Buddy’s Newco, LLC, and Rent-A-Center, Inc. agreed to settle FTC charges that they negotiated and executed reciprocal purchase agreements in violation of federal antitrust law. The complaints allege that from June 2015 to May 2018, Aaron’s, Buddy’s, and Rent-A-Center each entered into anticompetitive reciprocal agreements with each other and other competitors. The three proposed consent agreements prohibited the rent-to-own companies and their franchisees from entering into any reciprocal purchase agreement or inviting others to do so, and from enforcing the non-compete clauses still in effect from the past reciprocal purchase agreements. After a public comment period, the Commission announced the final consent agreements.
Progressive Leasing, a company that markets rent-to-own payment plans in tens of thousands of retail stores nationwide, will pay $175 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges it misled consumers about the true price of items purchased through its plans.
Fashion Nova Will Pay $9.3 Million for Consumer Refunds To Settle FTC Charges It Violated Rules On Shipping, Refunds
Rent-To-Own Payment Plan Company Progressive Leasing Will Pay $175 Million to Settle FTC Charges It Deceived Consumers About Pricing
In September 2017, a group of online marketers agreed to pay more than $2.5 million to settle FTC charges that it deceived consumers with “free” and “risk-free” trials for cooking and golfing products. According to a complaint filed in March 2017, the defendants offered “free” products, without clearly disclosing that by accepting the “free” product consumers were agreeing to be charged each month for a subscription if they did not cancel. They also allegedly misrepresented their return, refund and cancellation policies. The order setting the FTC’s complaint barred the defendants from misrepresenting the cost of any good or service, that consumers will not be charged, that consumers can get something for a processing or shipping fee with no further obligation, and that a product or service is free. In April 2020, the FTC announced it was sending refund checks totaling $488,629 to defrauded consumers.
Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request (Pre-sale Availability Rule)
The Federal Trade Commission is sending refunds totaling more than $6.9 million to small businesses, non-profits, and government agencies targeted by an office supply telemarketing scam that charged them for products they did not order. The FTC alleged that defendants’ victims included child care centers, schools, and police and fire departments.
Statement of Chairman Joseph Simons and Commissioner Noah Joshua Phillips Concerning the Rent-to-Own Swaps Matter
Rent-to-Own Operators Settle Charges that They Restrained Competition through Reciprocal Purchase Agreements
Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Rohit Chopra, In the Matter of Rent-to-Own Market Allocation Scheme
The Federal Trade Commission authorized an action to block Post Holdings, Inc.’s proposed acquisition of the private label ready-to-eat ("RTE") cereal business of TreeHouse Foods, Inc. In an administrative complaint issued on December 19, 2019, the Commission alleges that the proposed acquisition would harm retailers and end consumers by eliminating head-to-head competition between the Respondents in the United States market for private label RTE cereal. The Commission vote to issue the administrative complaint and to authorize staff to seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction was 5-0. The administrative trial is scheduled to begin on May 27, 2020. The parties announced they had abandoned the transaction on Jan. 13, 2020.
Food distributor US Foods, Inc. has agreed to divest assets to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that US Foods, Inc.’s proposed $1.8 billion acquisition of Services Group of America, Inc. would violate federal antitrust law. The complaint alleges that, in Eastern Idaho, Western North Dakota, Eastern North Dakota, and the Seattle area, the transaction would eliminate a key broadline distributor and limit customers’ ability to switch between distributors to obtain better pricing and service. Under the proposed consent agreement, within 30 days of the acquisition closing, US Foods must divest three FSA distribution centers: one in Boise, Idaho; another in Fargo, North Dakota (FSA competes in both Eastern and Western North Dakota out of this facility); and a third in the greater Seattle area. On Nov. 19, 2019, the FTC announced that it has approved a final order settling the charges.
Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; Comment Request (Consumer Product Warranty Rule)
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