Analysis of Proposed Consent
The Federal Trade Commission has accepted, subject to final approval, an agreement to a proposed consent order from Bumble Bee Seafoods, Inc. ("Bumble Bee").
The proposed consent order has been placed on the public record for sixty (60) days for the receipt 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 comments received and will decide whether it should withdraw from the agreement and take appropriate action or make final the agreement's proposed order.
This matter involves Bumble Bee's making of a representation in the marketing and sale of canned tuna. Specifically, the face of the product label indicates that the purchaser will save seventy-five cents (75¢) on his next purchase of tuna, however, the reverse side of the label, which is affixed to the can and is not accessible until after purchase, indicates that the purchase of five additional cans of tuna is required in order to save the seventy-five cents (75¢). The proposed complaint alleges that Bumble Bee has violated Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act ("FTC Act") by misrepresenting that purchasers of tuna affixed with the subject label can receive seventy-five cents (75¢) off their next purchase of a single can of tuna.
Part I of the proposed order prohibits Bumble Bee from misrepresenting the terms or conditions of any rebate offer and requires the company to disclose clearly and prominently and in close proximity to the offer the number of products that must be purchased in order to qualify for any rebate offer. The order defines "rebate" to mean cash, merchandise, credit towards future purchases, or any other consideration offered to consumers who purchase products from the respondent, which is provided subsequent to purchase.
Part II A provides that Bumble Bee shall commence within ninety (90) days after the service of the order, a consumer tearpad coupon program that includes a national distribution of at least seven million, five hundred and eighty-six thousand, two hundred and eight (7,586,208) tearpad coupons at least five inches (5") by two and one-half inches (2½") in size that clearly and prominently offer seventy-five cents (75¢) off the purchase of "any two (2) cans or multi-packs" of Bumble Bee Solid White Albacore Tuna. Part II A further provides that these tearpad coupons shall be redeemable at the place of purchase, and have an expiration date of at least six (6) months after distribution. The proposed order refers to Bumble Bee's obligations set forth in Part II A as the "Program."
Part II B provides that if Bumble Bee's total costs incurred by implementing the Program do not exceed two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) ("Minimum Expenditure") ninety (90) days after the expiration date on the tearpad coupon, Bumble Bee shall transfer electronically to the United States Treasury within ten (10) business days a dollar amount equal to the difference between the actual cost of the Program and the Minimum Expenditure.
Part III provides that Bumble Bee shall provide to the Commission: a) within ninety (90) days after the date of service of the order, a sworn affidavit certifying that it has implemented the Program set forth in Part II; and b) within ninety (90) days of the expiration date on the Program's tearpad coupon, a sworn affidavit setting forth in detail the manner and form in which it has complied with Part II of the order, including but not limited to, a detailed report that specifies the costs of the Program.
Part IV of the proposed order contains record keeping requirements for materials related to representations covered by the proposed order. Part V of the proposed order requires distribution of a copy of the order to current and future officers and agents having responsibilities with respect to the subject matter of the proposed order. Part VI provides for Commission notification upon a change in the respondent and Part VII requires the respondent to keep and maintain all records demonstrating compliance with the terms and provisions of the order. Part VIII provides for the termination of the order after twenty (20) years under certain circumstances.
The purpose of the analysis is to facilitate public comment on the proposed order, and it is not intended to constitute an official interpretation of the agreement and proposed order or to modify in any way their terms.