The Federal Trade Commission today announced the following actions.
Consent agreements given final approval: Following a public comment period, the Commission has made final consent agreements with the following entities. The Commission action makes the consent orders binding on the respondents.
- The FTC has made final a consent order with Urological Stone Surgeons, Inc., et al, which operates two Parkside Kidney Stone Centers in the Chicago metropolitan area that provide lithotripsy -- a non-surgical, shock-wave treatment for kidney stones. Under the terms of the order, the three firms and two doctors named in the complaint are prohibited from agreeing or attempting to agree to fix prices, discounts, or other terms of sale or contract for lithotripsy services; are required to terminate third-party payer contracts that include the challenged fees at contract renewal time; and are required to notify the FTC at least 45 days before forming or participating in an integrated joint venture to provide lithotripsy professional services. The Commission vote to approve the final order was 2-0, with Commissioner Mary L. Azcuenaga concurring in part and dissenting in part and Commissioner Mozelle W. Thompson and Commissioner Orson Swindle not participating. (See news release dated January 6, 1998; FTC Docket No. C-3791; Staff contact is C. Steven Baker, 312-353-8156.)
- A consent order with Sensormatic Electronics Corporation and Checkpoint Systems, Inc. was made final by the Commission. Sensormatic and Checkpoint are the two largest manufacturers and sellers of electronic article surveillance systems used in retail stores to prevent shoplifting. The order will declare null and void the section of a June 1993 agreement between the companies to restrict advertising and promotional claims about each other’s products or services. In addition, the order will bar the companies from entering any agreement that "prohibits, restricts, impedes, interferes with, restrains, places limitations on, or advises against engaging in truthful, non-deceptive advertising, comparative advertising or promotional and sales activities." The Commission vote to approve the final order was 3-0, Commissioner Mozelle W. Thompson and Commissioner Orson Swindle not participating. (See news release dated January 21, 1998; FTC Docket No. C-3795, C-3796; Staff contact is Michael Antalics, 202-326-2821.)
- The Commission has made final consent orders with three national advertising agencies to resolve charges they violated the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act) and the Consumer Leasing Act in connection with car leasing advertisements. The FTC’s complaints with Grey Advertising, Inc., Rubin Postaer and Associates, Inc., and Foote, Cone & Belding, Inc. alleged the companies developed and disseminated deceptive "zero down" and "penny down" lease advertisements for Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, Inc., American Honda Motor Corporation, and Mazda Motor of America, Inc., respectively. The complaint against Grey also alleges that Grey created and disseminated deceptive automobile balloon payment credit advertisements that violated the FTC Act and the Truth in Lending Act. Among the provisions of final orders: the companies may not misrepresent in any motor vehicle lease advertisement the total amount due at lease signing or delivery, the amount down, and/or the down payment, capitalized cost reduction, or other amount that reduces the capitalized cost of the vehicle (or that no such amount is required). Any ad that highlights an amount "down" or mentions certain other amounts due at lease inception (or states that there is no such charge) would have to give an equally prominent statement of the total amount due at lease inception. The final order with Grey also contains provisions that, among other things, prohibit the company, in any closed-end credit advertisement involving motor vehicles, from misrepresenting the existence and amount of any balloon payment or the annual percentage rate. The Commission vote to approve the final orders was 3-0, with Commissioner Mozelle W. Thompson and Commissioner Orson Swindle not participating. (See news release dated January 20, 1998; FTC Docket No. C-3792, 3793, 3794; Staff contact is David Medine, 202-326-3224.)
Preliminary Injunction Update: A U.S. District Court judge in Hammond, Indiana, has issued preliminary injunctions against six defendants named in a Federal Trade Commission complaint involving a telemarketing enterprise based in Merrillville and Crown Point, Indiana. The FTC charged that the enterprise deceptively offered employment with the U.S. Postal Service to hundreds of thousands of consumers residing across the country. The case is part of a January 1998 joint FTC and Postal Service law enforcement sweep against such firms. Judge James T. Moody, of the Northern District of Indiana, on March 31, issued the injunctions against: The Answering Service, Inc.; The Rosewood Group; Career Advancement Corp.; Information Delivery Systems, Inc.; William H. Tankersley, principal officer of Career Advancement; and David L. Barnack, who does business as and is president of Information Delivery. The preliminary injunctions -- which continue previously ordered asset freezes on the corporate and individual defendants -- will remain in effect pending the outcome of a trial on the FTC's allegations. (See news releases dated January 22, 1998; February 19, 1998; Think Achievement Corp., Civil Action No: 2:98-CV-12-JM. Staff contact is Jeffrey Galvin, 202-326-3505.)
Copies of the documents referenced above are available from the FTC’s web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 6th Street and 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.