Williams-Sonoma Penalized $3.2M by FTC for ‘Made in USA’ Label Fraud

One company has received a record-breaking fine over misleading labels on their products. 

$3.2 Million Settlement

Image Credit: Shutterstock / RomanR

Kitchenware and furnishings retailer Williams-Sonoma will have to pay almost $3.2 million for violating a Federal Trade Commission order.

Misleading Customers

Image Credit: Shutterstock / fizkes

The company has been charged with using misleading advertising for its products, in particular labeling certain products as “Made in the USA” when they were manufactured in China and other countries.

Violation of 2020 Order

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Freedomz

The misleading labels were a direct violation of a 2020 commission order from the FTC, which dictated that the company must be truthful about where its products were made.

Joint Statement Released

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Salivanchuk Semen

A settlement between the San Francisco-based company and the federal agency was announced in a joint statement by the FTC and the Justice Department on Friday.

Admitting to the Allegations

Image Credit: Shutterstock / RomanR

Williams-Sonoma has admitted to the allegations and has fully accepted the over $3 million fine. 

Wrong Labels on Mattresses

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Studio Romantic

These misleading labels were used on mattress pads between April 2022 and August 2023. The labels read “Crafted in America from domestic and imported materials” despite being manufactured in China.

Six More Products

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Mangostar

Six other products being advertised and sold on the company’s official website also bore labels reading “Made in the USA.” It is believed they were advertised as such because customers are likely to pay more for products they believe are made in America.

Largest Civil Penalty Made Under the Order

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Pormezz

According to officials, the settlement includes the largest civil penalty ever issued to a company under the “Made in the USA” FTC order.

Annual Compliance Reports

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Chokniti-Studio

As part of the penalty, Williams-Sonoma will also be required to certify their compliance with the rule for the next five years, via annual compliance reports. 

“Misleading Consumers and Harming Businesses”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Sergey Nivens

“Williams-Sonoma’s deception misled consumers and harmed honest American businesses,” said Lina Khan, chair of the FTC. “Today’s record-setting civil penalty makes clear that firms committing Made-in-USA fraud will not get a free pass.”

DOJ Chimes in

Image Credit: Shutterstock / lev radin

Department of Justice Civil Division head Brian M. Boynton also condemned the company in its press release, writing “Williams-Sonoma misled consumers by touting products as made in the USA when at least one of them was made in China.”

Continuing Their Mission

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Andrey_Popov

He vowed to keep pursuing similar misleading business practices alongside the FTC, adding “We will continue to work with the FTC to stop deceptive marketing practices like this.”

Not the First Time

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ulf Wittrock

This is not the first run-in that the home furnishings company has had with the FTC. Back in 2020, they were sued by the agency over more false advertising allegations.

Repeat Offender

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Freedomz

Again, the company had been advertising several product lines under different brands as made in the USA. These brands included Pottery Barn Kids, Pottery Barn Teens, Goldtouch, and more.

Busy Week for FTC

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Andrey_Popov

It has been a busy week for the FTC, who have made a number of aggressive legal maneuvers to combat corporate practices that could hinder competition and innovation in various sectors.

Ban on Noncompete Contracts

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Rawpixel.com

Most notably, the agency issued a rule this week to ban noncompete contracts nationwide. Noncompete clauses in employment contracts bar employees from engaging in competition with their employer, either through seeking future employment with competitors or starting competitive businesses of their own.

Negative Effects of Noncompete Clause

Image Credit: Shutterstock / fornStudio

“Noncompete clauses keep wages low, suppress new ideas, and rob the American economy of dynamism, including from the more than 8,500 new startups that would be created a year once noncompetes are banned,” Khan said in a press release.

More Freedom for Americans

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Zamrznuti tonovi

 “The FTC’s final rule to ban noncompetes will ensure Americans have the freedom to pursue a new job, start a new business, or bring a new idea to market,” she added.

Chamber of Commerce Files Suit

Image Credit: Shutterstock / LifetimeStock

The rule has been contested by a number of agencies and businesses, including the US Chamber of Commerce, which filed a lawsuit over the ban against the FTC on Wednesday.

Blocking Major Fashion Merger

Image Credit: Shutterstock / PanuShot

The FTC also filed a lawsuit on Monday to block a major $8.5 billion merger between luxury fashion corporations Tapestry and Capri Holdings, due to potential market monopolization and higher prices for customers. 

23 Steep Taxes Adding to California Residents’ Burden

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Alex Millauer

California: a place of sunshine, innovation, and, unfortunately, some of the nation’s highest taxes. From LA’s beaches to Silicon Valley’s tech hubs, residents grapple with a maze of state taxes. Here’s a glance at 23 taxes that might surprise both Californians and outsiders. 23 Steep Taxes Adding to California Residents’ Burden

Cash in on Nostalgia: 21 Toys Now Worth a Fortune

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Kostikova Natalia

Time to dust off the boxes and find that once-cherished toy from your childhood. For collectors and enthusiasts, they items have become valued objects and they can be worth big bucks – are there any of these in your attic? Cash in on Nostalgia: 21 Toys Now Worth a Fortune

Millennials Don’t Buy These 19 Products Anymore

Image Credit: Shutterstock / mariakray

Millennials are changing consumer habits, quietly replacing once-staple products and traditions. Often criticized for their disruptive preferences, this generation is reshaping the marketplace with digital expertise, ethical buying, and a taste for the unconventional. Millennials Don’t Buy These 19 Products Anymore

10 Reasons Firearms Are Essential to America’s Fabric

Image Credit: Shutterstock / rblfmr

Americans’ strong attachment to guns is influenced by constitutional rights, historical context, and cultural traditions. This article explores the cultural perspective driving their unwavering support for gun ownership, revealing the key factors shaping this enduring aspect of American life. 10 Reasons Firearms Are Essential to America’s Fabric

California’s 16 New Laws Raise Red Flags for Prospective Residents

Image Credit: Shutterstock / PeopleImages.com – Yuri A

California, celebrated for its beaches, tech prowess, and diversity, is now gaining attention for its recent legislation, prompting some residents to reconsider their residency. Explore the new laws of 2024 and the controversies and migration they’re stirring. California’s 16 New Laws Raise Red Flags for Prospective Residents

The post Williams-Sonoma Penalized $3.2M by FTC for ‘Made in USA’ Label Fraud first appeared on Thrift My Life.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Eric Glenn.

The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.