This past week, several consumer actions made headlines that affect the retail industry.

District Court Sides with FTC Over Weight-Loss Supplement Marketers

A federal district judge in Atlanta issued an order last week finding several supplement marketers in contempt for violating previous court orders and continuing to market weight-loss dietary supplements. The contempt order, which imposes a judgment in excess of $40 million, provides that the FTC may use the money to refund product purchasers. The defendants, including one FTC repeat offender, deceptively marketed their supplements as fat-burning and appetite-curbing, and promised rapid and extreme weight loss.

NAD Recommends Thermostat Maker Discontinue Certain Claims

The National Advertising Division recently recommended that programmable thermostat-maker White-Rodgers, a division of Emerson Electric Co., discontinue certain advertising claims and product packaging. The NAD reviewed claims after a competitor challenge and concluded that ads claiming the thermostat as “universally compatible” was not supported. White-Rodgers agreed to comply with NAD’s recommendations.

NAD Recommends AT&T Modify Claims Regarding AT&T Fiber

The National Advertising Division recommended that AT&T Services, Inc., modify advertising regarding the availability of the company’s fiber-to-the-home product, AT&T Fiber. The claims were challenged by competitor Charter Communications, Inc. The NAD permitted certain claims to continue, while recommending that AT&T modify advertising to clarify that the service is not available in all markets and to all customers. Both AT&T and Charter plan to appeal NAD’s findings.

Tito’s Vodka Maker Will Discontinue Claims Before NAD Can Find Them Absolut-ly False

Fifth Generation, Inc., maker of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, announced this week that it will voluntarily and permanently discontinue comparative claims made in print advertising and on product labels. Competitor Absolut Spirits Company brought the challenge before the NAD, saying that an advertisement comparing the taste of several types of vodka used outdated taste tests, and that the tests were conducted separately rather than as a head-to-head comparison. Fifth Generation declined to submit substantiating evidence and instead elected to permanently discontinue the challenged claim.