Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final order settling charges that San Francisco-based UrthBox, Inc. and its principal misrepresented that customer reviews were independent when, in fact, the company provided those customers with free products and other incentives to post positive reviews online.
According to the agency’s April 2019 complaint, UrthBox violated the FTC Act by misrepresenting that positive consumer reviews on the BBB’s and other third-party websites reflected the independent experiences or opinions of impartial consumers, while the reviewers actually had a material connection to the company. The FTC alleged that UrthBox did not adequately disclose that some consumers received compensation, including free snack boxes, to post those positive reviews. The complaint also alleged the respondents failed to adequately disclose key terms of its “free” snack box offer.
The final order settling the FTC’s charges bars the respondents from engaging in similar conduct and requires them to pay $100,000 to the Commission, which will be used to compensate consumers deceived by the trial offers.
The Commission vote approving the final consent order was 5-0. (The staff contact is Kerry O’Brien, FTC’s Western Region, 415-848-5100.)
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