Subway’s “Footlong” and 9 Products That May Not Measure Up


Last year reports surfaced about Subway’s “Footlong” sandwich literally not measuring up to its name. The uproar triggered lawsuits across the country. Eleven plaintiffs’ firms are involved in the litigation, claiming Subway deceived customers by promoting a 12-incher that was really more like 11. The last few details of a settlement are being worked out. What might the deal look like?

Plenty of companies make completely unfounded and outright untrue claims, leaving customers frustrated by the deception. While pushing the truth is probably expected when it comes to advertising, making false claims is intolerable — oh, and illegal.

Weight Loss Claims

The FTC recently put into action “Operation Failed Resolution” against weight loss companies SENSA, HCG, L’Occitant, and LeanSpa for making unsubstantiated claims in their advertising. While the companies haven’t been put out of business, they cannot continue to make their previous (or similar) claims about the efficacy of their products without completing two clinical trials. Settlements resulted in customer refunds in the millions for each company.

Remember when just three minutes a day could get you the abs of Janet Jackson? Yeah, that was a scam, too.

Users of the Ab Circle Pro believed three minutes with the product could get them the same results as 30 minutes at the gym. Advertising for the Ab Circle Pro stated that fitness guru Jennifer Nicole Lee lost 80 pounds using the Ab Circle Pro for three minutes per day, and that the average person could lose up to 10 pounds in just two weeks with the device. The FTC called the company on its ridiculous claims and made it refund customers up to $25 million.

Not-So-Special Stuff

Dannon had to pay up to $45 million in damages in a class-action settlement to consumers appalled by the company’s claiming its product had “clinically” and “scientifically” proven nutritional benefits, while the yogurt is in fact no different from other yogurts. The company had to limit health claims on its products strictly to, well, facts.

Taco Bell got busted for using oat filler to “season” it’s “seasoned beef,” which means it was not in fact seasoned according to USDA standards. The woman suing eventually dismissed the lawsuit, though not before telling the world that Taco Bell was tricking consumers into thinking their beef was of a higher grade than beef elsewhere.

Fake Results

Olay did a huge no-no in their ads for an eye cream; the company got busted for retouching models in the ads. British lawmakers yanked digitally-altered spots, citing potentially negative body image effects for consumers, not to mention gross misrepresentation of the product.

Sneaky Ways of Misleading Consumers

Groupon was sued by a San Francisco tour company for allegedly using Google keywords to trigger ads to tourist attractions while not actually offering coupons related to any of those attractions.

Can You Get a Refund?

The FTC  updates recent cases resulting in refunds on its website — check soon before the refund period for a product you purchased is over.