Consumer News

How a Reader Tip Led to a Record Penalty for False Made in USA Claims

FTC says civil penalty against Williams-Sonoma is “the largest ever in a Made in USA case.”

Consumer News

How a Reader Tip Led to a Record Penalty for False Made in USA Claims

Last summer, received a tip from a reader about a mattress pad on Pottery Barn Teen’s website advertised as “Crafted in America from domestic and imported materials” that was in fact entirely made in China, according to inconspicuously placed labels attached to the product.

The consumer said she bought the mattress pad specifically because she did not want one made in China.

After independently confirming that the PBTeen mattress pad was indeed made overseas, filed a complaint with the FTC in August 2023 alerting the agency to violations of a 2020 FTC consent order requiring that Pottery Barn’s parent company Williams-Sonoma tell the truth about whether the products it sells are made in the USA.

Eight months later, Williams-Sonoma has agreed to pay more than $3 million for violating the 2020 order. In a press release, the FTC said the civil penalty against the California-based kitchenware and home goods retailer is “the largest ever in a Made in USA case.”

Go deeper

This is not the first time the FTC has acted on a complaint about Williams-Sonoma’s deceptive made in the USA claims.

In May 2019, sent its first complaint letter to the FTC urging it to take action against Williams-Sonoma after a investigation found hundreds of products deceptively marketed as American-made on e-commerce websites for various Williams-Sonoma brands, including Williams-Sonoma, West Elm and PBTeen. Products in’s sampling included furniture, lighting fixtures, kitchenware, rugs, jewelry and bedding products.

In March 2020, the FTC announced that it had filed an enforcement action against Williams-Sonoma over misleading claims that its products were “all or virtually all” made in the United States, the legal standard for unqualified U.S.-origin claims. The action resulted in a settlement with the company in which it agreed to pay $1 million and stop making false, misleading or unsubstantiated made in the USA claims in the future.

Fast-forward to Friday and the FTC wrote in its press release:

The current complaint notes that the FTC became aware that the company was marketing mattress pads under its PBTeen brand as “Crafted in America from domestic and imported materials” when it was actually made in China. The FTC then investigated six other products the company advertised as Made in USA and found those claims were also deceptive in violation of the 2020 order.

In addition to the record civil penalty, the settlement also requires Williams-Sonoma to submit annual compliance certifications and imposes constraints on the claims the company makes.

Record settlement comes full circle

The FTC first looked into Williams-Sonoma’s made in the USA claims in 2018. The focus of the agency’s inquiry: Chinese-made mattress pads advertised on the PBTeen website as “Crafted in America.”

Find more of our coverage on made in the USA claims here.

You Might Be Interested In