AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

'Made in USA' claims by Alpharetta firm were phony, FTC says

Alpharetta-based iSpring Water Systems proclaimed that its water filtration systems and parts are "Built in the USA, " and "Proudly Built in the USA."

But in fact, those claims - published on its own website and in ads on the websites of Amazon, Sears, Home Depot and others - are false, the Federal Trade Commission alleged in a complaint.

"In fact, in many instances, (the company's) products are wholly imported," the FTC says.

iSpring, it says, "sources significant inputs to its products overseas."

That deceives consumers who might seek out products to support American manufacturing, the agency alleged in initiating an investigation.

On Wednesday, the company agreed to drop misleading claims, a settlement document shows. Under the agreement, the company may make qualified "Made in USA" claims if it also clearly and conspicuously discloses the extent to which a product contains foreign parts, ingredients or processing.

In the agreement, provisions of which extend for 20 years, the company didn't admit or deny the allegations. The Commission is scheduled to decide March 3 whether to make the order final.

When can a company say its products are made in the USA? The FTC spells out requirements here: https://www.ftc.gov/public-statements/1997/12/enforcement-policy-statement-us-origin-claims

Simply put, to make that claim, all or virtually all of a product must be U.S. made.

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About the Author

Lois Norder is Senior Editor for Investigations in the newsroom at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.