FTC news was light the post-Thanksgiving week, and most press releases provided updates to earlier-reported agency activity. For example, the agency issued refunds to businesses in relation to a 2022 complaint, and testified to Congress as an update to March 2023 testimony. These stories and more after the jump.

Monday, November 27, 2023

FTC Operations: Horseracing Rule Updates

  • The FTC approved a rule proposed by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority to add iron dextran to the list of banned substances. The substance, only approved for iron-deficiency anemia in swine, has been administered to horses to maximize red blood cell count, and some believe that this will improve a horse’s energy, stamina, and athletic performance. Due to the health risks of iron dextran to horses, the Authority proposed banning the substance. The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act requires the Authority to submit proposed rules to the FTC for approval, and the FTC then approves the submitted rule following a public comment period in the Federal Register.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Deceptive Real Estate Marketing

  • In an update to a case pending since 2022 and reported on this blog in January and April 2023, the FTC has begun issuing checks totaling over $3 million to businesses that paid for memberships to HomeAdvisor. The payments stem from a settlement related to allegations that HomeAdvisor made false, misleading, or unsubstantiated claims about the quality and source of the potential customer leads it was selling to home services providers. The company also allegedly told businesses that their membership included one free month of the field service software mHelpDesk, when in fact the member was charged $59.99. The FTC is not automatically issuing checks for the mHelpDesk allegations, instead requiring businesses to submit a claim here by February 26, 2024.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

FTC Operations: Congressional Testimony

  • The Commission, via Director of the Office of Congressional Relations Jeanne Bumpus, gave prepared remarks to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Responsiveness and Accountability to Oversight. Her remarks supplemented prior testimony provided in March 2023; since then, she stated, the agency “has established its clear responsiveness to House Judiciary Committee’s wide range and unprecedented number of oversight requests.”  In response to 15 House oversight committee letters containing 76 requests, the FTC submitted “29 letters, 20 productions, five transcribed interviews, a non-public briefing, hearing testimony, and over 8,500 pages of documents.” Separately, the FTC, as part of its regular, day-to-day activity, “works with Members and Committees to provide them with expert, thoughtful, and timely information, irrespective of party or position.” Ms. Bumpus concludes by emphasizing that “congressional oversight is an important part of our system of government” and the agency “remains committed to working with Congress in good faith, consistent with longstanding Commission policy.”

Friday, December 1, 2023

Bureau of Competition: Ethanol Market

  • The FTC issued its annual review of market concentration in the ethanol production industry, as required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The report measures market concentration using the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (“HHI”) based on U.S. ethanol production capacity and actual production of ethanol. The 2023 HHI values “continue to suggest that the exercise of market power to set prices, or coordinate on price or output levels, is unlikely on a nationwide basis.” Anticompetitive coordination would “require agreement among a very large number of competitors” and is therefore also unlikely.