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

Department Stores Settle False Discount Claims

Ann Taylor and its parent company, Ann Inc., have entered into settlements amounting to approximately $6.1 million in two unrelated cases alleging false discounts. Ann Inc. settled allegations that it offered misleading “discounts” on clothes sold through its Ann Taylor Factory and LOFT stores. According to the complaint, the stores claimed to sell goods “marked down” from prices that never actually applied to the goods in question.

The Neiman Marcus Group LLC also has reportedly reached a settlement over similar claims; details of this settlement currently are not available to the public. Continue Reading Consumer Protection in Retail: Weekly Roundup

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

Weight-Loss Drug Maker Settles Claims and Sheds $3.7 Million

Makers of BioTherapex and NeuroPlus agreed to refrain from engaging in numerous business practices, including making marketing claims that are not substantiated by scientific evidence. Specifically, they are banned from making any of the seven “gut check” weight-loss claims that the FTC has warned are always false for over-the-counter dietary supplements, like BioTherapex. Additionally, they are banned from making unsubstantiated or false claims about the benefits of NeuroPlus in protecting against Alzheimer’s and dementia. Defendants are also ordered to pay $3.7 million, which will be suspended upon payment of $800,000. Continue Reading Consumer Protection in Retail: Weekly Roundup

These past two weeks, several consumer actions made headlines that affect the retail industry.

Competitor Pacified After Infant Cereal Maker Discontinues Advertising Claims

Beech-Nut Nutrition Company said it will stop advertising claims connected to infant cereal products that a competitor challenged before the NAD. The challenged claims include “0” grams of sugar, “natural,” “complete” nutrition, and “formulated to be gentle on baby’s tummy,” among others. The NAD will treat the discontinued claims as if it had recommended they be discontinued and Beech-Nut complied. Continue Reading Consumer Protection in Retail: Weekly Roundup

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. Continue Reading Consumer Protection in Retail: Weekly Roundup

Have you ever seen an advertisement for a product that seemed a little too good to be true? Truth in advertising is a hotly contested issue, and advertising that may cross the line could be drawn into a dispute with the Federal Trade Commission or into court by a competitor. But did you know that there is another group that monitors and polices advertising? The National Advertising Division (“NAD”) of the Better Business Bureau is an industry group set up to review false or misleading advertising and referee complaints between competitors. Continue Reading Retailers Should Consider the NAD

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

App Operator Im-Pacted by FTC Settlement

The Federal Trade Commission has reached a $948,788 settlement with app developer Pact, Inc. over claims that it engaged in unfair and deceptive business practices. Pact users enter into “pacts” to exercise and/or eat better. The app charges between $5 and $50 per missed activity for users who fail to meet their weekly goals. Users who meet their weekly goals were supposed to be rewarded with a share of the money collected from those who did not.

The FTC alleged that Pact charged “tens of thousands” of consumers even if they met their goals or cancelled their participation in the service. Customers had a difficult time getting refunds or even determining how to cancel. The FTC’s complaint alleged violations of the FTC Act and the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act.

Under the terms of the settlement, Pact must disclose its billing practices, and is prohibited from misrepresenting its billing practices or engaging in unfair billing practices. A judgement of $1.5 million will be partially suspended upon Pact’s payment of $948,788.  Continue Reading Consumer Protection in Retail: Weekly Roundup

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

Dona J. Fraser Appointed Director of CARU

The Advertising Self-Regulatory Council and Council of Better Business Bureaus announced that Dona J. Fraser was appointed as Director of the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (“CARU”). Fraser is a leading privacy expert who previously worked for the Entertainment Software Rating Board, a self-regulatory program for the video game industry. CARU is an ASRC program dedicated to monitoring child-directed advertising since 1974. Continue Reading Consumer Protection in Retail: Weekly Roundup

The Ninth Circuit will decide whether Great Lakes Reinsurance must defend clothing company, In and Out, against a trademark infringement suit by Forever 21. The dispute focuses on exclusionary language in the general liability policy issued by Great Lakes to In and Out, which broadly bars coverage for claims stemming from violations of intellectual property rights, but which also excepts from the exclusion claims for copyright, trade dress and slogan infringement occurring in the company’s advertisements. The appeal concerns last year’s ruling by a California federal judge that Great Lakes owed a defense because the underlying complaint raised a potential that In and Out’s advertising infringed Forever 21’s trade dress. Continue Reading Ninth Circuit to Decide Whether IP Exclusion Applies to Forever 21 Trademark Suit

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

First Circuit Dismisses Deceptive Advertising Claims against Two Large Retailers

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has held that consumers who brought nearly identical deceptive pricing cases against two large retailers failed to prove that they had been injured. One suit alleged that one company falsely advertised “compare at” prices on sales tags; the other suit alleged that the other company deceptively set lower prices for its exclusive and private-label products and advertised them as discounted. In both cases, the plaintiffs alleged that the mere purchase of the item itself constituted injury. The First Circuit rejected this argument, observing that the consumers (1) had not alleged that the items were poorly made, (2) had received the benefits of their bargains, and (3) that a false sense of a product’s value does not constitute injury.   Continue Reading Consumer Protection in Retail: Weekly Roundup

On March 14, 2017, the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016 (the “Fairness Act”) will come into effect, 90 days after it was signed into law by President Obama. The Fairness Act voids any provision in a form contract between a consumer and a business that (1) restricts the consumer’s ability to leave reviews, (2) imposes penalties for leaving negative reviews or (3) transfers intellectual property rights in reviews or feedback content from the consumer to the business. The Fairness Act was passed in response to an increase in the use of so-called “non-disparagement clauses” that prohibited consumers from sharing their honest opinions about a seller’s goods, services or conduct. Continue Reading How Companies Can Comply with the Newly Effective Consumer Review Fairness Act