Analysis of Proposed Consent Order To Aid Public Comment
The Federal Trade Commission has accepted, subject to final approval, an agreement to a proposed consent order from Prolong Super Lubricants, Inc. ("PSL"). The agreement would settle a proposed complaint by the Federal Trade Commission that PSL engaged in unfair or deceptive acts or practices in violation of Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
The proposed consent order has been placed on the public record for sixty (60) days for reception of comments by interested persons. Comments received during this period will become part of the public record. After sixty (60) days, the Commission will again review the agreement and the comments received and will decide whether it should withdraw from the agreement or make final the agreement's proposed order.
This matter concerns advertising practices related to the sale of Prolong-brand Engine Treatment Concentrate ("ETC"). Prolong ETC is marketed for use as a supplemental additive to the motor oil used in gasoline automobile engines. The proposed complaint charges that, through the use of statements contained in PSL's television infomercial and other promotional materials, PSL made the following unsubstantiated representations: (1) compared to motor oil alone, ETC reduces engine wear at start up; (2) compared to motor oil alone, ETC extends the duration of engine life; (3) ETC reduces corrosion in engines; and (4) ETC protects against engine breakdowns. In addition, the proposed complaint alleges that PSL made unsubstantiated claims that benefits that may be achieved through use of ETC in race cars or under racing conditions can be achieved by ordinary consumers in ordinary driving; and that consumer testimonials in PSL's infomercial reflected the typical and ordinary experience of consumers.
The proposed consent order contains provisions designed to prevent PSL from engaging in similar acts and practices in the future. Part I of the proposed order requires PSL to have scientific evidence substantiating claims that, compared to motor oil alone, ETC or any other product for use in an automobile, reduces engine wear at start up, or extends the duration of engine life, under any circumstances or conditions or by any quantitative amount. Similarly, Part I of the order requires PSL to have scientific evidence substantiatiing claims that ETC or any other product for use in an automobile reduces corrosion in engines, or protects against engine breakdowns, under any circumstances or conditions or by any quantitative amount.
Part I of the order also requires PSL to have scientific evidence substantiating claims that benefits achieved in race cars or under racing conditions will be achieved in ordinary automobiles in conventional use. Similarly, Part IV of the order requires PSL to have scientific evidence substantiating user testimonials or endorsements, or disclosing the limitations on the applicability of the speaker's experience to ordinary users.
Moreover, Part II of the proposed order requires PSL to have competent and reliable evidence, scientific where appropriate, substantiating any claim about the performance, benefits, efficacy, attributes or use of any product it sells. In addition, the proposed order prohibits PSL from misrepresenting the results of tests or studies relating to any product, or utilizing demonstrations to misrepresent a material quality, feature or merit of any product, or the superiority or comparability of a product.
The order also contains standard provisions regarding record-keeping, notification of changes in corporate status, distribution of the order, termination of the order, and the filing of a compliance report.
The purpose of this analysis is to facilitate public comment on the proposed order, and it is not intended to constitute an official interpretation of the agreement and the proposed order or to modify their terms in any way.