Williams-Sonoma is fined by US FTC over ‘Made in USA’ claims

By Thomson Reuters Apr 23, 2024 | 7:55 AM

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – Williams-Sonoma will pay a $3.18 million civil fine to settle U.S. Federal Trade Commission charges it violated a July 2020 order by falsely claiming that some of its products were “Made in USA.”

An order describing the settlement was filed late Monday in the federal court in San Francisco, where the kitchenware and home furnishings retailer is based, and requires a judge’s approval. The original order included a $1 million fine.

Some consumers are willing to pay more for products made in the United States.

The FTC said that between April 2022 and August 2023, Williams-Sonoma falsely advertised PBTeen mattress pads as “Crafted in America from domestic and imported materials” though they were in numerous instances imported from China.

It also found six products were advertised on Williams-Sonoma’s website as “Made in USA” though they had been imported or contained significant imported content.

At least three were being marketed deceptively in July 2021, when Williams-Sonoma’s deputy general counsel signed a report describing the company’s compliance with the 2020 order.

Williams-Sonoma admitted that the latest FTC allegations are true. It must certify its compliance with the new order for five years.

The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday. Williams-Sonoma brands also include Pottery Barn and West Elm.

In January 2023, the FTC settled a similar case accusing Instant Brands of advertising Pyrex kitchenware as “Made in USA” though they often came from China.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)