Global Instruments, based in Trenton, Missouri, and its president, Charles Patterson, have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they made unsubstantiated claims about the effectiveness of Global’s electromagnetic (EM) and ultrasonic pest control products. According to the FTC, Global advertises that its pest control products are effective in driving away rodents, cockroaches, and other pests. The proposed consent agreement to settle the charges prohibits the respondents from making claims for any pest control device, unless they have adequate scientific substantiation to support such claims. This is the second FTC consent order addressing pest control claims obtained this year. The first order, Lentek International, was issued in March 2003.
The respondents market and sell six devices that are the subject of the FTC’s complaint: “Pest-A-Cator” and “Pest-A-Cator Too!” (EM products); “Pest-A-Cator Plus” and “Pest-A-Cator Too! Plus” (combination EM/ultrasonic products); and “PestVacator 800” and “PestVacator 1500” (ultrasonic products). In marketing these products, the respondents allegedly represent that their products can repel or eliminate pests and rodents from users’ homes. Global also sells its EM products under the names “Riddex” and “Riddex Jr.” for QVC.
The FTC’s complaint alleges that the respondents made unsubstantiated claims that:
- their electromagnetic pest control products repel, drive away, or eliminate mice, rats, and cockroaches from homes and other buildings in two to four weeks, and drive them away by sending a pulsating signal throughout or altering the field around the electrical wiring inside homes and other buildings; and that they act as an effective alternative to, or eliminate the need for, chemicals, pesticides, insecticides, exterminators, and pest control services;
- their combination electromagnetic/ultrasonic pest control devices effectively repel, control, or eliminate mice, rats, cockroaches, rodents, insects, spiders, silverfish, and bats from homes and other buildings, and upset nesting sites of mice, rats, and cockroaches within walls, ceilings, and floors by using the products’ pulse or electromagnetic technology through the household wiring;
- their ultrasonic pest control devices effectively repel, drive away, or eliminate mice, rats, bats, crickets, spiders, and other insects from homes, and eliminate the need for toxic chemicals, poisons, or traps; and
- their pest control products are effective within an area ranging from up to 800 square feet or up to 2,000 feet, depending on the model.
The proposed consent agreement, announced today for public comment, prohibits the respondents from making unsubstantiated efficacy representations for any pest control device. Specifically, the settlement prohibits the respondents from representing, without competent and reliable scientific evidence, that any pest control product:
- repels, controls, drives away, or eliminates, temporarily or indefinitely, mice, rats, cockroaches, or any other insects or animal pests, and that it does so in an area of a certain size;
- is an effective alternative to, or eliminates the need for, chemicals, pesticides, insecticides, exterminators, or any other pest control product or service; and
- will alter the electromagnetic field, send a pulsating signal, or otherwise work inside the walls or through the wiring of homes or other buildings in a manner that effectively repels, controls, drives away, or eliminates mice, rats, cockroaches, or any other insects or animal pests.
The agreement also requires the respondents to have substantiation – and where appropriate, scientific substantiation – to support any claims about the benefits, performance, or efficacy of any product they may market. In addition, the settlement requires the respondents to distribute copies of the proposed order to current and future employees. Finally, the settlement contains various recordkeeping provisions to assist the FTC in monitoring the respondents compliance with the order.
The Commission vote to accept the proposed consent agreement for public comment was 5-0. An announcement regarding the proposed consent agreement will be published in the Federal Register shortly. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, until August 18, 2003, after which the Commission will decide to make it final. Comments should be addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission of a law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of $11,000.
Copies of the complaint, proposed consent agreement, and an analysis of the agreement to aid in public comment 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. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1 877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Office of Public Affairs
Connie Vecellio or Patricia Bak
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2966 or 202-326-2842