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FTC puts advertisers on notice: honest opinions only

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If you’re like many people, before you lay your money down — particularly for big-ticket items — you want to hear what past buyers say about them. The FTC took a big step today to make sure that what you hear is truthful. It warned businesses that the endorsements they use to help sell their products must reflect the actual experience and opinions of real people who used them.

The FTC sent a “Notice of Penalty Offenses” to more than 700 large companies, top advertisers, leading retailers, well-known consumer product companies, and major advertising agencies. The Notice describes advertising practices involving endorsements that the FTC found were deceptive in past lawsuits. The recipients were picked because they are top marketers and agencies, not because they are suspected of doing something wrong. But they are now all on notice that, if they use any of these deceptive practices in the future, they can face penalties of up to $43,792 per violation.

What kinds of advertising crosses the line? Among other things, companies that use endorsements

  • Can’t misrepresent that an endorser is an actual, current, or recent user of a product
  • Can’t misrepresent that endorsers’ experiences represent people’s typical experiences
  • Can’t use an endorsement without good reason to believe the endorser still holds the views expressed
  • Can’t use an endorsement to make deceptive claims about how a product performs, and
  • Can’t fail to disclose an unexpected relationship between the endorser and the advertiser, like a business or family relationship, a payment, or a gift of a free product.

The Notice could apply not only to a company’s own ads but also to its use of influencers, fake reviews, and reviews by customers with connections to the company.

When shopping for a product or service, you’ll want to evaluate any reviews carefully.

  • Consider the source of the reviews. What do you know about the reviewer? Or about the site or platform where you’re reading the reviews?
  • Look at more than one source. Good places to start are well-known websites that have credible and impartial expert reviews.
Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

The problem here is, They use Known Actors and Celebrities to do their advertisements , Not Actual Users of their product.

$43,000.00 is NO deterrent, compared to the revenues some endorsements provide. Posting the offender's information on Google, Yahoo, and SOCIAL MEDIA,platforms, much more of a deterrent.

Where does I file a complaint when I see false comments or ones I know aren't true/fake...?

Report fraud, scams, and bad business practices to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

Wonder if that applies to the advertising entity known as google.

A full list of the businesses receiving the Notice from the FTC is available on the FTC’s website. A recipient’s presence on this list does not in any way suggest that it has engaged in deceptive or unfair conduct.

Sounds like a very worthwhile goal. How is the FTC going to enforce this?

There are many retailers who will not publish any negative opinions regarding a product or a seller. I experienced this several times with Amazon so I stopped writing reviews all together. They claimed that my review did not follow their guidelines, yet there was nothing vicious or nasty about it. I stated my opinion along with facts of my experience.

Unfortunately, there are more positive reviews than negative and while not all consumers will be 100% happy 100% of the time, any negative feedback is helpful in making an informed decision on whether or not to purchase a product. At that point, it is entirely on the consumer as to whether or not they want to chance experiencing the same negative impact that was published or they may experience only positive impact and will write about that.

However, an opinion is just that...an opinion. Whether good or bad, a review will impact sales. We, the consumer, have every right to know how other consumers experience was with a product or a company.

Excellent that the consumer reviews have to be legitimate or they will be fined. About time.

Thank you so much for doing this I rely heavily on reviews and lately I can tell they are all fake or have been bought by the persons being reviewed. I just want an honest review of the product, honesty really is the best policy.

MY COMMENT IS: THIS IS FABULOUS, HAVE A NICE DAY. THANK YOU-PATRICIA

In this age of outright lies, post-truth, alternative facts, innuendos, and garbage in social media, this is a welcome policy to at least curb some of this.

What I generally do is look at the negative reviews to see if there is a consistency among the reasons for the negative reviews. I trust that more than the positive reviews.

I think it's a great start, but what about the companies that mislead the public by combining reviews from multiple products constantly - making it look like there are more reviews than there actually are, and that a product is better than it truly is.

When looking at reviews I always look at all of them. Some companies put all the poor or bad reviews out of sight, but you can check to see All Reviews. I have found those to be very helpful. If you are giving a review, especially if you have had a problem, be specific in your details so others can make an informed decision.

Hello! Is this notice publicly available? I'd be curious to see it if so. Also, I have witnessed companies effectively bribing consumers to remove negative reviews. Is that legal? It seems like it shouldn't be.
Thanks!

Click on the blue, hightlghted words "FTC sent a Notice of Penalty Offense" in the second paragraph of this blog to connect to the press release that tells about Notice and connects to a copy of the Notice and list of businesses that got a copy of the Notice from the FTC.  

Love it! Let's keep going on the truth thing!

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