FTC hits vacuum cleaner manufacturer for unproven claims


Oreck Corporation has been claiming that two of its vacuum cleaners can eliminate germs and allergens and cut down on the risk of catching the flu via an ultraviolet light feature. It has used multimedia advertising to make this claim. Not only is the FTC challenging the assertion, it has reached a settlement with Oreck to set matters straight worth $750K.

Two of its vacuum cleaners – Halo and ProShield — were alleged to have this power, and they retailed for about $600 and $400. Oreck marketed them with traditional television advertising, television infomercials, and also via print, online and in-store advertising.

FTC cited an informercial claim: “The Oreck Halo has killed up to 99.9 percent of bacteria exposed to its light in one second or less,” and that the vacuum’s light chamber “has been tested and shown to kill up to 99.9 percent of certain common germs, plus dangerous pathogens like E. Coli and MRSA.” Another claim noted was that “[t]he Halo and the ProShield Plus prevent or substantially reduce the risk of   other illnesses or ailments caused by bacteria, viruses, molds, and allergens   – such as the common cold,  asthma, and allergy symptoms.”

There were others – and according to FTC and the Better Business Bureau said that none of them were substantiated with scientific evidence.

“Under the terms of the administrative settlement, Oreck is barred from making any of the allegedly deceptive claims it challenged in the complaint for any vacuum cleaner or any air cleaning product – unless it has competent and reliable scientific evidence to support the claims,” stated the FTC. “The company also is prohibited from making any claims about a product’s comparative health benefits without competent and reliable scientific evidence, and from misrepresenting the results of any scientific test, study, or research.”