Williams-Sonoma, Inc. Agrees to Stop Making Overly Broad and Misleading “Made in USA” Claims About Houseware and Furniture Products – Williams-Sonoma Required to Pay $1 Million to Settle FTC Charges
Kehoe Law Firm, P.C. is making consumers aware that n March 30, 2020, the FTC advised that Williams-Sonoma Inc. has agreed to stop making false, misleading, or unsubstantiated claims that all of its Goldtouch Bakeware products, its Rejuvenation-branded products, and Pottery Barn Teen and Pottery Barn Kids-branded upholstered furniture products are all or virtually all made in the United States. As part of the proposed settlement, Williams-Sonoma is required to pay $1 million to the FTC.
The San Francisco-based company, also doing business as Williams Sonoma, Williams Sonoma Home, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, Pottery Barn Teen, West Elm, Rejuvenation, Outward, and Mark & Graham, markets its products throughout the United States, in stores and on its websites and social media platforms.
According to the FTC’s complaint, Williams-Sonoma deceptively claimed in advertisements and promotional materials that certain categories of its products were all, or virtually all, made in the United States.
In 2018, the FTC received reports that Williams-Sonoma claimed in ads and promotional materials for Pottery Barn Teen organic mattress pads that those products were “Crafted in America from local and imported materials.” When consumers purchased the mattress pads, they discovered that the pads, in fact, were made in China, according to the FTC’s complaint. Williams-Sonoma quickly corrected the country-of-origin information for the mattress pads, and agreed to comply with the FTC’s requirement that it undertake a larger review of its country-of-origin verification process. Consequently, on June 13, 2018, the FTC staff issued a letter closing the investigation.
The FTC alleges that since the closing letter was issued, Williams-Sonoma has made misleading claims that all Goldtouch Bakeware, Rejuvenation-branded products, and Pottery Barn Teen and Pottery Barn Kids-branded upholstered furniture products, including raw materials and subcomponents, were all or virtually all made in the United States. These claims include:
- Goldtouch Bakeware is made in America or in the USA. This claim appeared on the company’s website and in its catalogue.
- On the company website and in emails, Rejuvenation-branded products are made in America or in the USA.
- In a company video, Pottery Barn Teen and Pottery Barn Kids-branded upholstered furniture is made in America or in the USA.
According to the FTC’s complaint, numerous Goldtouch Bakeware products, Rejuvenation-branded products, and Pottery Barn Teen and Pottery Barn Kids-branded upholstered furniture products are wholly-imported, or contain significant imported materials or components. Therefore, Williams-Sonoma, allegedly, deceived consumers with its broad claims that all items in these product lines are all or virtually all made in in the United States.
Under the terms of the proposed order, Williams-Sonoma is prohibited from making unqualified U.S.-origin claims for any product, unless it can show that the product’s final assembly or processing—and all significant processing—takes place in the United States, and that all or virtually all components of the product are made and sourced in the United States. Under the order, any qualified Made in USA claims must include a clear and conspicuous disclosure about the extent to which the product contains foreign parts, components, and/or processing. To claim that a product is assembled in the United States, Williams-Sonoma must ensure that it is last substantially transformed in the United States, its principal assembly takes place in the United States, and United States assembly operations are substantial.
The FTC’s order also prohibits Williams-Sonoma, its officers, and any other company representatives from making untrue, misleading, or unsubstantiated country-of-origin claims in their marketing materials about any product or service.
Source: Federal Trade Commission – FTC.gov