Recent Posts

This time it's personal

Ask most people to name the streets in the neighborhood where they grew up and they’ll tell you Maple Lane or Sycamore Drive. Ask a military kid – ask this military kid – and she’ll mention Tank Destroyer Boulevard and Hell on Wheels Avenue. Years ago, if you drove down Tank Destroyer and exited the East Gate of Fort Hood, the neon signs advertising “zero down,” “E-Z credit,” or “low monthly payments” lit up the Central Texas sky like a discount aurora borealis.

Read Full Post >>

Overhyped claims and subpar science: A prickly pair

There are certain questions we ask ourselves when investigating companies’ health claims. Did they have appropriate substantiation? Did they tell the truth when they said their claims were supported by scientific studies? Did they clearly disclose that product endorsers were getting a piece of the pie?

Read Full Post >>

In-app and unapproved: FTC says Amazon charged parents' accounts without their OK

If there’s one theme that runs through decades of FTC law, it’s that companies need consumers’ informed consent to bill their accounts. That was true in the early days of mail order. It carried through to online shopping. And it remains the law for mobile devices, including in-app purchases. The FTC’s lawsuit against Amazon alleges the company didn’t honor that elementary principle.

Read Full Post >>

Who profits from cramming? FTC challenges T-Mobile's role in bogus billing

It was an all-too-common occurrence.  People’s mobile phone bills included unexplained – and unauthorized – monthly charges.  It’s called cramming and the FTC has brought a series of cases against companies that had fees for ringtones, horoscopes, “love tips,” etc., placed on cell phone bills without consumers’ consent.  The crammers took a chunk of the cash, but you might be surprised to learn who the FTC says pocketed a 35-40% piece of the action.  A just-filed lawsuit pulls back the curtain on Read Full Post >>

FTC to L’Oréal: Scientific claims need proof that’s more than just skin deep

When ads for beauty products convey subjective claims – for example, L’Oréal’s long-standing “Because I’m worth it” tagline – it’s unlikely consumers would think statements like that are supported by science.  (It’s hard to imagine a testing protocol that could establish whether or not we’re worth it.)  But flip through a magazine and it’s apparent that test tubes are overtaking powder puffs in how some cosmetics are marketed.  When companies tout the scientific research behind their advertising or say t

Read Full Post >>