Williams-Sonoma, Inc., has agreed to pay $1 million to the FTC in settlement of claims that the home furnishing company made false and unsubstantiated representations that certain products were made in the United States. In its complaint, the FTC alleged that Williams-Sonoma—also doing business as Pottery Barn, West Elm, Rejuvenation, Outward, Mark & Graham and other brands—deceptively claimed that the company’s Goldtouch Bakeware products, Rejuvenation-branded products and Pottery Barn Teen- and Pottery Barn Kids-branded upholstered furniture were made in the USA. In reality, many of these products were wholly imported or contained significant imported materials.
The FTC had previously contacted Williams-Sonoma in 2018 regarding the company’s claims that its Pottery Barn Teen organic mattress pads were crafted in America when actually they were made in China. Williams-Sonoma immediately corrected the error, and the FTC decided not to pursue the action any further. However, less than a year later, the FTC received reports that the challenged advertising had continued.
In addition to the $1 million payment, in the March 2020 proposed consent agreement and order, Williams-Sonoma is prohibited from making false, misleading or unsubstantiated claims about the country of origin of its products; it must submit compliance reports to the FTC; and it must create and maintain certain records for the next 20 years.
This settlement reiterates the FTC’s strict policy for marketers—to be labeled Made in the USA, a product must be all or virtually all domestically made, and cannot be labeled as such if it contains imported materials.