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Williams-Sonoma: Made in the USA?

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When we’re deciding between buying two products, if one product says, “Made in the USA,” does that influence how we make our decision? For many people, it does, and we all have a reasonable expectation that the claim is truthful. 

Earlier this week, the FTC announced a settlement with Williams-Sonoma. The company has agreed to stop making false, misleading, or unsubstantiated Made in the USA claims for several of their houseware and furniture product lines. As part of the settlement, Williams-Sonoma is required to pay $1 million to the FTC. 

Made in USA is not a sales claim just any company can make. It is an objective representation that many consumers find highly relevant and it requires solid substantiation. 

According to the FTC’s complaint, numerous Williams-Sonoma product lines, including Goldtouch Bakeware products, and Pottery Barn Kids furniture were wholly imported, or contained significant imported materials or components making Williams-Sonoma’s representations false or misleading.

The FTC has laws and guidelines to help businesses know when it is appropriate to use the Made in USA label. That, in turn, helps people trust the labels they see.

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you shop: 

  • A company that makes a “Made in the USA” or other United States origin claim for its product without additional qualification should be able to prove that all (or almost all) of the product was made in the United States. Products with these labels should contain virtually no material or components from other countries.
  • In general, products processed or finished in the USA that contain materials from other countries should not be labeled “Made in the USA” without further explanation. Look for qualifying statements near the claim that explain which components of the product come from the USA.

Comments

It definitely influences me when buying.

Clarity on these issues is essential to purchasers of goods and services for business and home. Through these types of enforcement, FTC is protecting and enhancing the credibility of the ‘Made in the USA’ label. Thank you!

Thank you so much for this article, I always look at the label for country of origin. I often think extra hard to decide whether or not I truly need the item when it’s not sourced, assembled or manufactured by American workers.
Your article infers that the consumer needs to do some research to confirm the products claims. What kind of red flags inspired by consumer to research those claims? (ie. What should I be looking for, as a consumer, that may signal flag that a product could be questionable?)

The clothing labels which state: "Assembled in USA of Imported Fabric" have been vjery useful to me. If Williams-Sonoma had used such a label: "Assembled in USA of Imported Components" would that have sufficed?

BRAVO FTC! I so appreciate how you watch out for all of us

Thanks! So good to hear that businesses like this are getting fined for improper labeling of merchandise. It is important to know where items are manufactured. Made in the U.S. is a proud label reserved for hard working Americans!

Thanks for this update. I am very disappointed in Wms Sonoma. I often purchased from Wms Sonoma for gifts for special people. I won't be buying exclusively from them any more. And, when my granddaughter was a baby her mother bought many things at Pottery Barn Kids thinking they were safe. Sad misrepresentation!

does this Made in the USA also apply to food?

How about some examples of what "Made in USA means" to compare with what "further explanations" means. Also, what does "Assembled in USA" mean?

how does one determine what is wholly made in the USA? I feel if more people would make the effort to buy American, we wouldn't have the problems we are experiencing with medical supplies and medications.

I make it a requirement to look at the sourse of product. I BUY U.S.A. FIRST.

Buy American, your lifestyle depends on it.

Thank you! I always look for Made in USA and that proud label makes my purchase decision.

Way to go FTC!! USA all the way. William Sonoma management, shame on you + a fine. Hope you’ve learned a good lesson.

I LOOK FOR & NOW I "ONLY"PURCHASE ITEMS STATING "MADE IN THE USA." I AM SO SADDENED TO LEARN THAT "MADE IN THE USA" MAYBE FALSE. IT'S TIME WE GOT BACK TO MANUFACTURING HERE IN OUR COUNTY.

Keep up the good work. Too many advertisers are looking to market their product with false statements. Often,Come-ons for the uninformed. Hold these companies responsible for their unsavory acts!

Fantastic! I am so glad you check for false "Made in the USA" claims.

This is disappointing news. We had many alternatives for bakeware but purchased the Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch products because of the Made in USA designation.

Thanks so much for being on top of this issue.

Yes, I definitely look for the country of origin. When a product is made in the USA, I prefer it.

Why are cereal companies not required to disclose where their product is made and where the ingredients come from? Today I bought a box of Cheerios. All it says on the box is that it is distributed by General Mills. Why does the FTC allow this?

I agree! Too many products use "Distributed by ..." with no indication of the country of origin!

Absolutely! Makes 100% difference.

Shouldn't any such product be subjected to recall? The price was probably inflated based on the "Made in USA" claim!

Finally! I have finally received valuable info from a site that I gave my email address to. Other sites just send me junk, I receive valuable information from this site. Thank you very much for the wonderful service you provide.

It always matters if it is produced in the USA. We need to bring our factories stateside! The quality is better and we are growing a stronger USA.

I'm glad you released this article because I had talked to a friend last week telling her it is so hard to find things that are mad in the USA. I'd rather give our workers the money. Thank you, I am now in the mind to question every company and product that uses that statement, Made in america.

the label should live up to the promise that it is truly, Made in the USA

Yes. It absolutely influences my decision. You expect truthfulness; what a disappointment Williams-Sonoma. You have been called out; you should know and do better in the future. Your consumers want the quality of made in the U.S.A. especially now when we have so many people out of work. Shameful.

Companies that misrepresent their products in this fashion are committing fraud on the American people and legitimate businesses, not to mention actual American manufacturers. Thank you FTC staff for ferreting out the bad actors and making it right.

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