A proposed settlement with Electrowarmth Products and its owner was issued in August, the latest Made in USA enforcement action by the agency.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) continues to take action against companies that deceive consumers by labeling imported products as Made in America.
The FTC issued a proposed settlement on Aug. 30 against Electrowarmth Products LLC and owner Daniel W. Grindle for claiming that the company’s headed mattress pads were Made in the USA when they are actually manufactured in China.
Based in Ohio, Electrowarmth has been selling heated mattress pads to the populace since 1939, and long claimed that their products were “Made in the USA since 1939” and “Made in USA.” That was seemingly true until 2019, when Electrowarmth moved production to China to cut costs, and stopped using American-made textiles to make their mattress pads, according to the FTC.
The FTC accused Grindle of “deceptively claim[ing] the heated fabric mattress pads they sell for truck bunks were made in the USA,” a direct violation of the Textile Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act. Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Samuel Levine said:
“America’s hardworking truckers shouldn’t have to maneuver around marketers preying on their patriotism. Electrowarmth’s false claims that its goods were made in the USA can also harm competitors who tell the truth about product origin.”
The FTC has since “prohibited [Electrowarmth LLC] from making unqualified U.S.-origin claims for any product, unless they can show that the product’s final assembly or processing…takes place in the United States.” The company must have a “clear and conspicuous disclosure” about products containing any “foreign parts, ingredients or components, or processing” and ensure that all assembly “takes place in the United States.”
The FTC’s 5-0 decision also requires Electrowarmth to pay $815,809, but it was suspended due to the company’s inability to pay. “If the Commission concludes that the respondents misrepresented or omitted any material aspect of their sworn financial statements, the amount of the entire monetary judgment will immediately become due,” the FTC said in a press release.
The FTC officially strengthened its Made in USA labeling enforcement mechanisms in 2021, and has brought the hammer down on numerous other companies that have deceived their customers. Some of the more notable cases include ALG Health, Lions Not Sheep, and Williams Sonoma – all of which falsely promoted their imported products as Made in America:
• ALG Health, a KN95 respirator producer, said they were fighting against China’s dumping of PPE (personal protective equipment) into the U.S market. Instead, they were assisting China, not aiding the American mask market;
• Lions Not Sheep, a “patriotic” apparel company, promoted their items as Made in America while their founder also publicly stated that their shirts were made in China;.
• Williams Sonoma, a popular kitchen and home furnishings company, promoted many of its products as Made in America when they were manufactured outside of the country.
These companies have been held accountable, owing a total of $1,369,018 in fines and violations. They are only a few examples that show the FTC is taking action to preserve the integrity of American-made products, and this latest lawsuit against Electrowarmth is another step toward achieving that goal.
The FTC’s enforcement actions are a reminder that deceptive business practices like Made in USA labeling fraud should not be tolerated. Domestic manufacturing is a point of pride for the United States – that Made in America label carries a lot of weight. It should not be tarnished by greed and deceit.