It seems Walmart did something right and just in time for the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to drop the inquiry it launched on the company with regard to misleading Made In USA logos found in various products on its shopping website. In a recent letter sent to Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Associate General Counsel Annemarie C. O’Shea, FTC Staff Attorney Julia Solomon Ensor stated that the FTC “has decided not to pursue this investigation any further,” in view of recent changes undertaken Walmart to avoid “consumer deception.”
The issue was actually raised by ad watchdog group truthinadvertising.org (TINA.org) when it found that there were several products on Walmart’s site that have been labeled “Made in the USA” while the packaging showed “Made in China.” Moreover, TINA.org also found “Made in the USA” product labels that were in conflict with Walmart.com’s very own specifications, which showed foreign components.
Some of the products found with this issue include the Great Value White Spoons, Almay Smart Shade Smart Balance Skin Balancing Pressed Powder, Nivea Essentially Enriched Body Lotion, PERT Plus 2 in 1 Shampoo & Condition Classic Clean, Mainstays 9-Piece Nonstick Cookware Set and Scott 1000 Bathroom Tissue, among others. Moreover, a number of these products were also found to be made in other countries, such as Mexico, Germany and Canada.
According to TINA.org, this practice of deception is an issue since “it’s no secret that patriotism sells.” In fact, TINA.org had found through a survey that Americans actually prefer products made in the USA. More importantly, Americans are also willing to pay up to 60 percent more for products made in the US.
On June 22, TINA.org sent a letter Walmart’s CEO, General Counsel and Chief Marketing Officer to alert them of the Made In USA issues found on various products they sell on their website. Walmart’s Vice President of U.S. Sourcing replied to TINA.org a couple of days later, saying that the company was undertaking steps to correct the issue. However, in July 2015, TINA.org found that the issues remained and the ad watchdog group even found 100 more products with Made In USA misrepresentation. This prompted the group to file a complaint letter with the FTC.
According to the FTC, Walmart had already fixed the issue to avoid misrepresentation of products when it comes to where they were made. In fact, Walmart had since, removed the Made in USA logos from all of its product listings while also removing the country-of-origin information and U.S.-origin claims. In addition, Walmart has also implemented a procedure that allows them to flag and remove any new U.S.-made in ad copy submitted by its suppliers.
At the same time, Walmart released a new, redesigned “Made in USA” logo for private products promoting in conjunction with its Investing in American Jobs Program.