• QVC Accused (Again) Of Falsely Advertising Weight Loss Products
  • April 14, 2004
  • Law Firm: Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP - Los Angeles Office
  • The Federal Trade Commission slapped the popular shopping channel QVC with a lawsuit alleging that it made false and unsubstantiated claims for For Women Only and Lite Bites weight loss products and Bee Alive royal jelly dietary supplements. In addition, the FTC alleged that QVC violated the FTC Act by making unsubstantiated claims that Lipofactor Cellulite Target Lotion eliminates or greatly reduces cellulite and causes the loss of inches, and that tests prove that the product works. The allegedly false and unsubstantiated claims also resulted in the breach of a previous consent order QVC entered into with the FTC. The parties reached the settlement in 2000 in connection with the sale on QVC of Cold-Eeze zinc lozenges, requiring that QVC have "competent and reliable scientific evidence" for any future claim involving a dietary supplement.

    Howard Beales, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, stated that "QVC's claims for these products are not only unsubstantiated, but for some, scientifically impossible. . . . QVC didn't keep its promise to use sound science and solid evidence to back up the claims it makes for the health products it sells."

    The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and seeks fines, penalties, and consumer redress. Each violation carries a penalty of up to $11,000. Given the numerous times purportedly false claims were uttered by product representatives and via consumer testimonials during the broadcasts, the fines imposed could be substantial.

    Significance: This action illustrates that the FTC continues to vigorously scrutinize advertising for weight loss products and dietary supplements. QVC is a particularly attractive target given the wide audience it reaches and its previous run-in with the FTC. Advertisers which have previously attracted the ire of the FTC and continue to have ongoing legal obligations to the agency are particularly at risk of being closely monitored.