Special Report

The Nine Most Misleading Product Claims

6. Emergen-C
> Parent Company: Alacer Corporation
> Ad changed: Yes
> Settlement Amount: $6.4 million

Alacer Corporation reached a $6.5 million settlement late last year with plaintiffs over its claims that its Emergen-C vitamin C supplement boosts energy, the immune system, and metabolism. While vitamin C is a necessary component of a healthy diet, its effectiveness in preventing the common cold is still controversial after decades of scientific research. In fact, too much Vitamin C can cause diarrhea, nausea, can cause several side effects, including diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramps, according to the National Institutes of Health. Anyone who purchased Emergen-C in the United States between June 1, 2006 and February 27, 2012 could have claimed reimbursement prior to the end of March.

ALSO READ: The Best-Selling Products of All Time

7. Nissan Frontier
> Parent Company: Nissan North America
> Ad changed: Yes
> Settlement Amount: N/A

In one of Nissan North America commercials, Nissan’s Frontier pickup truck was seen as pushing a dune buggy up a steep hill in a desert setting. The FTC objected because the truck was not actually capable of doing what the commercial showed. Nissan’s ad agency, TBWA Worldwide, later admitted the commercial was altered to make it appear that the incline was steeper than it actually was, and that the truck was actually being pulled up the hill by cables. While Nissan and TBWA did not claim, either verbally or in print, that the pickup truck could perform such a feat, the FTC ruled the visual depiction was enough to warrant misleading advertising. The FTC prohibited Nissan from “Misrepresenting any material quality or feature of a pickup truck through the depiction of a test, experiment, or demonstration.”

8. E.K. Ekcessories
> Parent Company: E.K. Ekcessories
> Ad changed: Yes
> Settlement Amount: N/A

Like many companies, E.K. Ekcessories used patriotism as a marketing tool. The Utah-based company sells outdoor accessories such as iPhone cases and bottle holders. The company boasted that many of its products were “Made in the U.S.A.” or “Truly Made in the U.S.A. Our source of pride and satisfaction abounds from a true made in the U.S.A. product.” The claim, however, wasn’t true, as many of the company’s products were actually manufactured abroad. Last October, as part of a settlement, the FTC prohibited the company from making any such claims. The settlement also required the company stop “providing deceptive promotional material to third-party retailers,” as many of its products are sold in online retail stores, including Amazon.com. Lesley Fair, a senior attorney in the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, called E.K. Ekcessories’ practice a “Yankee Doodle Don’t” on the FTC’s blog.

ALSO READ: Companies With the Best (and Worst) Reputations

9. Sensa
> Parent Company: Sensa Products
> Ad changed: Yes
> Settlement Amount: $26.5 million

Earlier this year, the FTC fined diet products company, Sensa Products, for falsely claiming its products lead to weight loss. As part of a settlement, Sensa agreed to pay the FTC $26.5 million, which will be used for Sensa customers’ refunds. Sensa was particularly faulted for its claims that all dieters have to do to lose weight is to sprinkle its salt-like product on to their food. In one of its commercials, thin women in bikinis dance on a beach and sprinkle Sensa’s product on foods such as ice cream, hot dogs and hamburgers, while a background voice states that all dieters have to do is “Shake, eat and lose weight.” Women’s high-end beauty chain, L’Occitane, was also fined $750,000 as part of the same crackdown. L’Occitane claimed that one of its creams could slim users’ bodies.

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