US-based home products retail company Williams-Sonoma has been ordered to pay a $3.175m civil penalty for violating a 2020 Federal Trade Commission (FTC) order.  

The order mandated the retailer to accurately represent the origin of the products it sells.  

The US Department of Justice filed a complaint upon referral from the FTC, alleging that Williams-Sonoma falsely advertised products as “Made in the USA” when they were manufactured in China and other countries. 

The FTC’s initial lawsuit against Williams-Sonoma in 2020 accused the company of falsely marketing products from brands including Goldtouch and Pottery Barn Kids as predominantly “Made in the USA”.  

Following the lawsuit, Williams-Sonoma agreed to an FTC order to cease deceptive claims and comply with “Made in the USA” labelling standards.  

However, the FTC later discovered the company was still making false claims, this time regarding mattress pads sold under its PBTeen brand, leading to further investigation and the discovery of additional deceptive practices. 

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The settlement, in addition to the civil penalty, imposes stringent requirements on Williams-Sonoma.  

The retailer is required to submit annual compliance certifications and is prohibited from making unqualified US-origin claims unless it can substantiate that the product’s final assembly or processing occurred in the US.  

Furthermore, any qualified “Made in the USA” claims must include a clear disclosure about the presence of foreign parts, ingredients, components or processing.  

The company is also required to ensure that products claimed to be assembled in the US are last substantially transformed in the US, with significant assembly operations occurring domestically. 

FTC chair Lina Khan said: “Williams-Sonoma claimed its products were made in the United States even though they were made in China. Williams-Sonoma’s deception misled consumers and harmed honest American businesses. Today’s record-setting civil penalty makes clear that firms committing Made in the USA fraud will not get a free pass.”