You’ve seen the sentence in FTC news releases or blog posts: “The order includes a $__ million financial remedy.” So how do provisions like that translate into real help for real consumers? That’s the subject of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Office of Claims and Refunds Annual Report.
Blog Posts Tagged with Endorsements
One Direction had a hit with a song called “18,” but the FTC’s recent law enforcement and policy initiatives suggest that the agency will continue to pursue many directions in its efforts to protect consumers in ‘18. (Sorry. We’re expecting a fresh shipment of pop culture references in January.) In case you missed them – and in no particular order – here are ten FTC consumer protection topics of note from 2017.
The “before” photo showed a silver-haired lady in a wheelchair with a hand on her furrowed brow. “24 hours after” and she’s smiling and knitting on the sofa, thanks to a dietary supplement proven in a 1200-person clinical study to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of joint pain, hypertension, diabetes, and depression. And how’s this for a bonus? Users can “easily lose between 8-13 lbs. per week.”
Like Alanis Morissette’s “rain on your wedding day” or “a free ride when you’ve already paid,” the FTC’s lawsuit against Florida’s NextGen Nutritionals, LLC, Anna McLean, Robert McLean, and related companies – in addition to challenging a number of claims as false or deceptive – includes three allegations that could be characterized as ironic.
Online news reports appeared to feature the miraculous results celebrities like Will Ferrell and Paula Deen achieved from muscle-building supplements, weight loss products, and other merchandise. But according to the FTC, those “news reports” were deceptively formatted ads and the claims about “miraculous” results were false or misleading. And those weren’t the only secrets hidden within the promotions.
The Federal Trade Commission and Victory Media, Inc. have reached a proposed administrative consent agreement resolving allegations that Victory Media violated Section 5 of the FTC Act in connection with its promotion of post-secondary schools to military consumers.
Dads and Moms want what’s best for their babies, so some companies feature adjectives like “organic” or “natural” in ads for infant gear. Those are among the terms Illinois-based Moonlight Slumber used to sell its baby mattresses online and at some of the nation’s biggest retailers. But according to an FTC complaint, when it came to backing its mattress claims with proper support, the company was asleep at the switch.
If you have any influence over influencers, alert them to three developments, including the FTC’s first law enforcement action against individual online influencers for their role in misleading practices. According to the FTC, Trevor Martin and Thomas Cassell – known on their YouTube channels as TmarTn and Syndicate – deceptively endorsed the online gambling site CSGO Lotto without disclosing that they owned the company.
When you travel to another country, it can be challenging to figure out the lay of the land. That’s true for driving – and for advertising and marketing. A good guidebook or map can make a world of difference.
If marketing claims are any indication, “green” paint is popular with consumers, but not just in the sense of emerald, mint, or avocado. Companies are advertising that their paints are emission-free, VOC-free, and without chemicals that could harm consumers, including pregnant women, babies, and people with asthma. Some brands even feature seals and certifications touting purported environmental benefits.
Consumers rely on independent reviews and recommendations in deciding what to buy. That’s why the FTC wasn’t jumping for joy to learn that marketers of trampolines were touting their products through the use of misleading review websites and deceptive endorsements.
Silence may be golden, but not when it comes to contract clauses that would muzzle consumer complaints. That’s one message from an FTC settlement with the makers of NutriMost weight-loss products. Here’s another: don’t make weight-loss claims without scientific evidence to back them.
If Instagram is the home of Throwback Thursday and Flashback Friday, #IGers should think of today as Word to the Wise Wednesday.
Imagine a series of promotions that involve pain relief promises, cognition claims, endorsements, 30-minute radio ads, “risk-free” money-back guarantees, “free” trial offers, negative options, telemarketing, and upsells of buying club memberships. What could possibly go wrong for consumers?
Where would you like to start?
Congress unanimously passed the Consumer Review Fairness Act to protect people’s ability to share in any forum their honest opinions about a business’ products, services, or conduct. Some companies had been using contract provisions – including their online terms and conditions – to threaten to sue consumers or penalize them financially for posting negative reviews or complaints. The new law makes that illegal.
“Just like the white winged dove sings a song,” you can count on the BCP Business Blog to celebrate the “Edge of Seventeen” – 2017, of course – with a recap of in-case-you-missed-it developments from 2016. (Sorry, Stevie Nicks. That was a stretch.) In no particular order, here is our take on ten noteworthy consumer protection actions from the year gone by.
Is it time for a little heart-to-heart about making health claims for mobile apps? An FTC settlement with California-based Aura Labs challenges misleading representations the company made about its Instant Blood Pressure app. In addition, if you keep your finger on the pulse of FTC endorsement law, the complaint describes a course of conduct marketers will want to avoid.
As consumers age, they want to remain supple, as in limber, lithe, and flexible. Ads for the beverage Supple claimed the product would provide complete and long-lasting relief from joint pain and treat chronic pain caused by arthritis and fibromyalgia. But according to the FTC, the marketers of Supple were a little too flexible – with the facts, that is. The FTC’s lawsuit also challenges the independence of the doctor who endorsed the product.
Not many kids play with yo-yos these days, but an FTC complaint against nine related Los Angeles-area car dealers charges that the companies engaged in (among other things) illegal yo-yo financing practices – and for affected consumers, it was no game. Even if you don’t have clients in the auto industry, this case merits your attention.
In the popular video game Shadow of Mordor, players don’t just randomly slash, hack, and pillage. They battle specific opponents through a feature known as the Nemesis System. In the FTC’s lawsuit against Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, truth in advertising had a nemesis: paid pitches for Shadow of Mordor that Warner Bros. deceptively claimed were independent reviews.