As I digested my Thanksgiving dinner and watched the Seattle Seahawks demolish the 49ers on Thursday evening, I started seeing the first of the Black Friday ads. I can’t remember what store was offering them for sale on Friday, but I do remember Element flat screen televisions exploding out of giant Christmas crackers. I did a post on Element two years ago and at the time was really happy to see American televisions being built in Detroit. But recently I heard some disturbing news about Element that I thought I needed to share with you.
It was reported by Businessweek a couple of weeks ago that the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking the FTC to take “prompt action against Element Electronics Corp. to enjoin the false,
deceptive, and misleading statements Element makes in its nationwide television advertising and marketing campaign.” The AAM is cheesed off that Element claims in its advertising that its televisions are assembled in the U.S. According to the AAM, Element’s assembly consists of American employees removing the televisions from boxes shipped from China, checking the screens for scratches and using pneumatic screwdrivers to open the back of each television and insert a memory board. Workers also do some mechanical testing on the televisions, which are then repackaged and sold at stores such as Wal-Mart and Target.
As pointed out in the AAM petition, the FTC has a “Made in USA Standard.” That standard states:
A product that includes foreign components may be called “Assembled in USA”
without qualification when its principal assembly takes place in the U.S. and the
assembly is substantial. For the “assembly” claim to be valid, the product’s last
“substantial transformation” also should have occurred in the U.S. That’s why
`screwdriver’ assembly in the U.S. of foreign components into a final product at
the end of the manufacturing process doesn’t usually qualify for the “Assembled
in USA” claim.
I will keep you posted on what action is taken with the AAM’s petition.