Manufacturers are prohibited from making claims about their products that cannot be demonstrated with solid evidence in a number of areas. Two of the big ones are claims about weight loss and health benefit. Another is environmental friendliness. It has come to agreement to bring a company in line that purported to provide green evidence to companies – sort of a pre-carcinogen in the false advertising claim universe.
According to the FTC, the company is Tested Green and its owner Jeremy Ryan Claeys. It marketed its services to companies seeking green certification, and said it would test the products and give them a seal if the product passed. It said two independent firms would do the testing, but in fact they both belonged to Tested Green.
It offered two levels of service, a $189.95 “Rapid” certificate or a more in-depth $549.95 “Pro” certification. It said in advertisements that it was the leading certifier in the US and that it had performed the service for 45K products.
In fact, FTC alleged it hadn’t even tested anything, much less provided a valid certificate. FTC alleges the company bilked over 100 clients between Februrary 2009 and April 2010.
“It’s really tough for most people to know whether green or environmental claims are credible,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Legitimate seals and certifications are a useful tool that can help consumers choose where to place their trust and how to spend their money. The FTC will continue to weed out deceptive seals and certifications like the one in this case.”
FTC said that it “…also alleges that Tested Green deceived consumers by citing its endorsements from the National Green Business Association and the National Association of Government Contractors – implying that these were independent organizations when, in fact, both are owned and operated by Claeys.”
The consent decree bars Claeys and his companies from helping any other company make a false claim for a 20-year period.
RBR-TVBR observation: The FTC is right to go after this company rather than the companies that tried to do the right thing and ended up with questionable results. This case, demonstrating another level of deception, shows that the proper authorities, not broadcasters, have to be the enforcers in matters of advertising veracity. Still, we must do our best to keep the obvious charlatans out of our inventory as a service to our respective audiences.