Ad Watchdog’s Review Finds Persistent Issues
MADISON, Conn., Oct. 26, 2015 — To help close an inquiry into false and deceptive Made in the USA claims on its website, Walmart assured the Federal Trade Commission last week that it had scrubbed all U.S.-origin representations from its site. However, ad watchdog truthinadvertising.org (TINA.org), whose own investigation prompted the federal probe, continues to find false and deceptive U.S.-origin claims at Walmart.com. TINA.org alerted Walmart, as well as the FTC in a letter Friday.
The world’s biggest retailer is two years into a well-publicized 10-year commitment to purchase $250 billion in products that support American manufacturing. As part of this initiative, Walmart originally highlighted Made in the USA items on its website, even creating special red, white, and blue labels for many products. But a TINA.org investigation this summer readily revealed numerous false and deceptive American-made claims on Walmart.com. TINA.org alerted the FTC and Walmart to the misrepresentations, which the company attributed, in part, to “coding errors” and pledged to fix them.
Three months later, the FTC said that it closed its inquiry because Walmart represented that it took “several steps to prevent consumer deception.” According to the agency, these steps included removing Made in the USA logos from all product listings and removing U.S.-origin claims that appeared in product descriptions. But a subsequent review by TINA.org has found evidence that Walmart has misled the FTC and failed to wipe its site clean of false and deceptive Made in the USA claims. The ad watchdog is now calling on the retail giant to immediately correct the issues and review its entire website to ensure once and for all that no false or deceptive U.S.-origin representations exist.
TINA.org also pointed out that by removing all Made in the USA claims, Walmart is taking the easy way out rather than fixing the problem and is consequently doing a disservice to legitimate American manufacturers, as well as consumers who want to buy American-made products.
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