Oreck Corporation advertised that its vacuums and air cleaners could prevent or substantially reduce the chances of getting the flu and other illnesses. Many consumers bought the products but the FTC didn’t buy the claims.
The products included the Oreck Halo vacuum cleaner and Oreck ProShield Plus air cleaner. According to FTC, traditional television advertising was but one of the promotional venues upon which the allegedly false claims were made, along with infomercials, print ads, in-store displays, and ads online.
The FTC noted its problems with the campaign:
* The FTC charged Oreck Corporation with making these allegedly false and deceptive claims about the Halo vacuum cleaner:
* The Halo and the ProShield Plus prevent or substantially reduce the risk of flu.
* The 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.
* The Halo eliminates all or almost all common germs and allergens found on the floors in users’ homes, and is scientifically proven to do so.
* The Halo’s ultraviolet light is effective against germs, bacteria, dust mites, mold, and viruses embedded in carpets.
* The ProShield Plus eliminates all or almost all airborne particles from a typical household room under normal living conditions, and is scientifically proven to do so.
FTC also noted that in an infomercial for the Oreck Halo the company claimed, “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.”
Oreck agreed to stop making these or similar claims, and agreed to a $750K settlement payment to the FTC, and the FTC is now sending out more than 27K check to consumers, at an average of about $25 apiece.
That amount will not constitute a refund – the Halo costs about $600 and ProSheiled Plus could cost as much as about $400.