The Federal Trade Commission has cracked down on some retailers for falsely advertising certain products.
Walmart and Kohl’s agreed to pay $2.5 million and $3 million in civil penalties, respectively, in light of allegations that retailers misled consumers by falsely marketing certain products as bamboo. The FTC filed a lawsuit in April against the two District of Columbia retailers, claiming that Kohl’s and Walmart were “falsely” marketing dozens of rayon textile products as bamboo.”
The FTC, which aims to protect and educate consumers, also alleged that the two companies made “misleading environmental claims” by marketing that their bamboo textiles were made using environmentally friendly processes, which is rarely the case when it comes to converting bamboo into rayon.
“Kohl’s and Walmart are paying millions under the FTC’s Penalty Offense Authority for mislabeling their rayon products as bamboo,” said Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau. , in a press release. “False environmental claims harm both honest consumers and businesses, and companies that greenwash can expect to pay the price.”
In the original complaints, the FTC pointed out that some Walmart and Kohl’s products, such as sheets, towels and blankets that claim to be made from eco-friendly bamboo, are actually made from rayon. , a synthetic fiber that requires toxic chemicals in its conversion process. Advertising products as being made from bamboo without disclosing the actual fiber names violates textile law and rules, which require such details to prevent falsely advertised products.
To remedy the violations, the FTC proposed that Kohl’s and Walmart stop falsely advertising bamboo or eco-friendly products and pay $2.5 million and $3 million, respectively, in civil penalties.
In April, a Kohl spokesperson said the company had reached an agreement with the FTC and continued to “take these regulations seriously.”
When asked for a comment on the original complaint, Walmart said it was “pleased” to be able to work with the FTC to resolve these issues.
“We are committed to being the most trusted retailer and take these claims seriously,” a company spokesperson said. “We hold ourselves accountable when issues like this are raised. We have worked to strengthen our product description programs and expect our suppliers to provide products that comply with all laws, including those relating to labeling.
Walmart is also currently embroiled in a lawsuit with Vans over the sale of certain shoes. Last week, a federal judge barred Walmart from continuing to sell certain “confusingly similar” shoes to Vans’ trademarks and protectable trade dress pending litigation between the two parties. The opinion represents the use of a preliminary injunction, which is intended to help prevent a party to a lawsuit from suffering irreparable harm if no injunction is issued during litigation.
Walmart has also filed a lawsuit against big-box rival BJ’s Wholesale, alleging it stole the self-checkout technology it uses at its Sam’s Club chain of wholesale warehouses.