In an ongoing campaign targeting ads that tout motor oil additives with deceptive claims that they reduce engine wear or extend engine life compared to motor oil alone, the FTC has charged the seller of Motor Up Engine Treatment with making unsubstantiated and deceptive advertising claims, in violation of federal laws. Motor Up Corporation and its principal, Kyle Burns, face an administrative trial.
In addition to issuing the complaint, the Commission forwarded a recommendation that the Department of Justice file a civil penalty complaint against National Media Corporation, the firm that produced and placed the Motor Up infomercials, for alleged violations of a 1993 Commission order arising from allegations of deceptive infomercial advertising for other products. The FTC recommended that the Department file a proposed consent decree that would provide for an injunction against future order violations and a civil penalty of $100,000. National Media is now called e4L.
The FTC has previously halted allegedly deceptive ads for Valvoline Engine Treatment, Slick 50 Engine Treatment and STP Engine Treatment.
According to the FTC, labeling, packaging, Internet Website ads and other ads -- including infomercials prepared and placed by National Media Corporation for Motor Up -- carried claims such as:
- "Compared to a leading motor oil, Motor Up has eleven times the anti-wear agents;"
- ". . .seventy times more extreme pressure agents which dramatically reduce wear and tear under severe conditions"; and
- "We wanted scientific proof that Motor Up reduces wear and tear on your engine by up to fifty percent . . . "
- Demonstrations proved that Motor Up prevents corrosion in engines, reduces engine wear and helps prevent engine breakdowns.
The agency alleges that the ads represent that, compared to motor oil alone, Motor Up reduces engine wear as much as 50 percent; reduces adhesive engine wear by up to 90.17 percent; reduces engine wear during cold starts; extends engine life and helps prevent engine breakdowns. The ads also represent that Motor Up prevents corrosion; won't drain out of the engine, even when the oil is changed; protects engines for up to 50,000 miles; and protects against wear even without motor oil, according to the complaint. The FTC alleges that the companies did not possess or rely on competent evidence to substantiate the claims, and therefore the claims are deceptive. In addition, the infomercial demonstrations that were used to "prove" Motor Up reduces engine wear, prevents corrosion and helps prevent engine breakdowns, do not "prove, demonstrate or confirm" those claims, the FTC alleges, and the claims are false. Finally, claims that "tests prove" that compared to motor oil alone, Motor Up reduces engine wear by up to 50 percent are false, the FTC alleges.
In an administrative trial, the FTC will seek to bar Motor Up Corporation, Inc., Motor Up America, Inc., and Kyle Burns from making unsubstantiated claims about the performance, benefits, efficacy, attributes or use of Motor Up or any other product for use in a motor vehicle and specific claims made in the past for Motor Up. In addition, it will seek to prohibit misrepresentations about the existence, contents, validity, results, conclusions or interpretation of any test or study in connection with the marketing of any product for use in a motor vehicle. Finally, it will seek to prohibit misrepresentations that demonstrations, experiments, illustrations or tests prove the superiority or comparability of a product.
The Commission vote to issue the complaint was 4-0.
NOTE: The Commission issues a complaint when it has "reason to believe" that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the respondents actually have violated the law. The issuing of a complaint marks the beginning of an administrative trial process.
Copies of the complaint and a free, FTC brochure, "The Low-Down on High Octane Gasoline,"are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-FTC-HELP (202-382-4357); TDD 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 File No. 972-3034)
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