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QVC faces fines for deceptive ads

"Caveat emptor" apparently won't cut it for home shopping network QVC.

Federal regulators slapped the Liberty Media-owned cable network on the wrist Wednesday, charging the net with making deceptive and false claims about certain weight-loss products it sells on-air.

QVC faces potential multimillion- dollar fines, since each violation carries a penalty of up to $11,000.

The Federal Trade Commission singled out advertisements for "For Women Only" products (including its zero-fat and zero-carb pills) as well as some Lite Bite and Bee-Alive products all featured on the network from summer 2000 through 2003. The FTC also alleged that QVC made unsubstantiated claims for Lipofactor and Cellulite Target Lotion. The Dept. of Justice, at the FTC's request, filed the suit against QVC in federal district court in Philadelphia. The FTC is seeking civil penalties, consumer redress, and other relief.

Joni Lupovitz, assistant director for enforcement at the FTC's consumer protection bureau said the feds are seeking "substantial civil penalties in the millions of dollars."

The FTC said QVC's latest infraction violates a June 2000 order that required the company to support any claims about dietary supplements with scientific evidence. That year QVC settled FTC allegations that it made unsubstantiated claims that Cold-Eeze zinc lozenges prevented colds and alleviated allergy symptoms.

Claim an 'impossibility'

Channel is accused of advertising that its For Women Only Zero Fat pills prevent absorption of dietary fat, "a scientific impossibility," according to the FTC.

"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," Howard Beales, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement.

QVC said it will contest the FTC charges, claiming that company works "extraordinarily hard to make sure that our 24-hour live broadcasting meets the highest possible standards of truthfulness, and we are ready to demonstrate that fact to the court."

Posted on aef.com: March 29, 2004


Meredith Amdur, Variety. March 24, 2004

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