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Williams-Sonoma fined $3.18 million for falsely labeling products as 'Made in USA'

The Federal Trade Commission said the retailer violated a 2020 order it settled that made the same allegations.
Williams Sonoma.
Posted at 8:42 PM, Apr 24, 2024

Williams-Sonoma could be paying a hefty fine for claiming a small chunk of its products were "Made in USA" when they weren't.

In a federal court filing on Monday, the Federal Trade Commission asked a judge to sign an order that would fine the luxury home goods company $3.18 million for violating a 2020 order regarding the same false label claims. Williams-Sonoma settled those charges and was required to pay $1 million to the FTC, and the following year, it submitted a report describing how it had complied with every provision in the order.

However, the FTC's new claims state the company has violated the order with multiple deceptive U.S.-origin claims in the years since — including on three products in July 2021, when it filed the compliance order.

One such claim, which the FTC says Williams-Sonoma made between April 2022 and August 2023, involved certain PBTeen mattress pads that were advertised as "crafted in America from domestic and imported materials." The federal body said in numerous instances, those products were actually "wholly imported" from China.

The FTC said this finding led them to discover six other products on the retailer's websites that were advertised as American-made despite either containing foreign components or being processed internationally. It states Williams-Sonoma couldn't demonstrate the validity of its own claims, and the retailer admitted to Reuters that the allegations made in the complaint were true.

Williams-Sonoma ranked No. 1,469 on Forbes' largest companies in the world list last year. With brands under its own moniker, Pottery Barn, West Elm and more, the company raked in nearly $8.7 billion in sales last year.

It's interesting to question, however, if U.S.-made labels have at all contributed to the company's success.

One survey last year found two-thirds of its 1,000 respondents said they regularly sought out "Made in America" products, and 50% said they'd be willing to pay more for them. Another survey from the Reshoring Institutein 2020 found over 69% of respondents preferred American-made products, and more than 80% were willing to pay 10% to 20% more for them.