So you’ve received a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) from the Federal Trade Commission related to a consumer protection matter. Now what? We appreciate that it can be daunting for any company – especially a small business – and we want to be as transparent as possible about the process.
Blog Posts Tagged with Environmental Marketing
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.
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 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.
An ongoing FTC case is a reminder to businesses — If you make product claims based on scientific testing, you must have valid proof to back up those claims.
Case in point: Last fall, the FTC filed a lawsuit against Innovative Designs, Inc. (IDI) over allegations that the company violated the FTC Act by making false and unsubstantiated claims about its house wrap products.
Sometimes a sequel can be just as compelling as the original and we think a just-announced settlement that makes owners of 3.0 liter VW, Audi, and Porsche diesels eligible for more than $1 billion in payments fits that description.
“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.
A judge has today approved a landmark $10 billion settlement that will enable 500,000 consumers across the country to sell back their tainted diesel-powered cars to Volkswagen.
The $10 billion order secured by the FTC will make consumers whole by remedying the losses they suffered due to VW’s deceptive “Clean Diesel” ad campaign.
For most hard-working Americans, a car represents the most significant purchase after their family home.
It’s a term you see on labels and in advertising, but what does it mean to consumers? The word is “organic,” and consumer interpretations of organic claims for non-agricultural products is the topic on the agenda at an October 20, 2016, roundtable sponsored by the FTC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“It says it’s organic, but just what does that mean?” That’s a question a lot of consumers ask themselves when shopping for non-agricultural items like personal care products – and it will be the topic of discussion at an October 20, 2016, roundtable in Washington, DC.
The FTC’s recent action against Volkswagen focused on the company’s “clean diesel” claims, which were rendered false by VW’s installation of a defeat device that cheated on emissions tests. The history-making $10 billion settlement will offer eligible car owners choices to compensate them for the deception.
The FTC just announced a partial settlement with Volkswagen Group of America that will return as much as $10 billion to owners and lessees of VW and Audi 2.0 liter diesel cars. As the largest false advertising case in FTC history, it’s a record-breaking win for consumers – and it’s in keeping with the law-breaking nature of the deception the FTC alleged in its lawsuit against VW.
If companies market their products as “all natural” or “100% natural,” consumers have a right to take them at their word. That’s the message of four proposed FTC settlements and one just-issued administrative complaint challenging the allegedly deceptive use of those phrases in ads for skincare products, shampoos and styling products, and sunscreens.
Volkswagen Group of America spent multi-millions positioning its “clean diesel” technology as an environmentally conscious choice for car buyers – and sales of more than 550,000 so-called clean diesel vehicles suggest it was a persuasive pitch. But as a just-filed FTC lawsuit alleges, VW scored impressive green numbers by installing each car with a “defeat device” that cheated on emissions testing.
British blues rockers Ten Year After had a hit back in the day with “Hear Me Calling.” We doubt they were thinking of the FTC’s ten-year regulatory review schedule – OK, they weren’t – but it’s likely at least one of the four rules up for review this year affects your business. Can you hear us calling and are you ready to weigh in?
Maybe “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” but deceptively describing rayon clothing as bamboo isn’t so sweet – and violates the FTC’s Textile Rules. In addition to civil penalties totaling $1.3 million, settlements with Bed Bath & Beyond, Nordstrom, J.C. Penney Company, and Backcountry.com suggest another important point for industry members: Don’t ignore warnings about deceptive ads and misleading labels.
You don’t need to go to a water park to see performing seals. You can spot them on websites where they perform the function of conveying information about the purported environmental benefits of products. But do the groups offering those seals – and the companies that display them – have appropriate proof for the claims consumers take from them? If your clients use environmental seals or certifications, you’ll want to see the latest from the FTC staff.
A royal flush? More like a royal pain for consumers who trusted claims that moist flushable wipes manufactured by trade supplier Nice-Pak were safe for home plumbing systems. According to an FTC complaint, the wipes were made of a non-woven fabric that didn’t break down as quickly and easily as advertised, rendering that “flushable” claim a pipe dream – or maybe a pipe nightmare if your sewer or septic system got clogged as a result.
If your clients make environmental claims, the FTC staff just sent 20 warning letters you’ll want to tell them about. The subject is doggie bags and leftovers – but not that kind of doggie bag and definitely not that kind of leftover.