The Federal Trade Commission announced that it has reached a settlement with Wellco, Inc. for violating the FTC Act by making deceptive claims about its TV antennas and related signal boosters.
The settlement was for $31.82 million, but the judgment will be suspended upon a payment of $650,000.
According to the FTC, 800,000 Americans consumers purchased the antennas and 272,000 purchased amplifiers. The devices were sold online under the names TV Scout, SkyLink, and Tilt TV.
The FTC said that the website claimed users could stop paying for cable or satellite TV subscriptions and still receive their favorite channels, a substantial portion of the channels received would be in HD, and that they would more receive the most channels out of any antenna on the market.
The FTC added that the company used deceptive advertising, making ads appear to be legitimate news reports using made up consumer endorsements.
“The company’s ads for amplifiers—in English and Spanish—claimed that people could use those with its antennas to get even more stations, including premium or subscription channels, like HBO and AMC, for free,” the FTC said.
The FTC offered the following recommendation for purchasing TV antennas:
- Read the FCC’s tips about TV antennas and getting good reception.
- Only trust news reports about a product when they come from a credible news source, and on its own website or news feed.
- When you look at an online endorsement or review, think about where it’s posted and what you know about who wrote it. Some endorsements and reviews are fake or misleading. It can be hard to tell them apart from the real ones, so it’s better to check several sources. And expert reviews from trusted websites are a good way to go.