Programs aired on the US home shopping channel claimed the vitamin supplements could lead to significant weight loss and the cream could reduce cellulite as well as the size of individuals’ arms, legs and abdomen.
According to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), these claims are false and unsubstantiated and it has ordered QVC to pay $6m for consumer redress and a $1.5m civil penalty.
“QVC aired ads that weren’t true and violated an FTC order,” said Eileen Harrington, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
“The company is responsible for the product claims made on its programs, and we expect that going forward, QVC will do a better job for its audience and make sure that its programs are truthful and not deceptive,” she explained.
In addition to the fine, the settlement further bars QVC from making unsubstantiated claims that any drug or cosmetic eliminates or reduces a user’s cellulite.
The complaint was filed by the Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Litigation in a federal district court at the FTC’s request in March 2004.
TV tipped for beauty success
The judgement comes as analysts highlight the potential of infomercials and TV shopping for a beauty industry struggling to keep sales up in hard times.
According to an NPD Group study, women are making fewer shopping trips, spending more time at home and are thinking more carefully about their purchasing decisions.
This could lead to more TV shopping, argues the market research company.
NPD Group analyst Karen Grant said: "By leveraging the peak time of shopping and other core elements of its appeal, TV networks and infomercials stand to benefit as a complementary vehicle to help fuel in-store sales, particularly in makeup and skincare, the two better performing categories of beauty.”