ATLANTA - Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker, in cooperation with the Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs, has joined with the Federal Trade Commission and seven state attorneys general today seeking a preliminary injunction in U.S. District Court to require the marketer of TERMINATE, a termite bait system, to modify the claims in its ads and promotional materials. The complaint alleges that the company's claims about the use and effectiveness of the product are deceptive and lack adequate substantiation.
TERMINATE, which is manufactured and distributed by United Industries Corporation, is sold through national home improvement stores and regional chains. According to the complaint, the company, based in St. Louis, Missouri, promotes its termite bait system, which sells for $60 to $100, in advertising and other promotional materials as ". . . the first do-it-yourself termite home defense system."
In addition to the FTC and the Georgia Attorney General, the Attorneys General of Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia joined in filing the complaint in U.S. District Court for the Northern Division of Maryland in Baltimore.
The complaint alleges that United Industries does not have adequate substantiation to support certain challenged claims. For example, in the complaint the federal and state officials allege that the company's materials about TERMINATE imply, without substantiation, that use of the product alone is effective in preventing termite infestations and damage in homes, that it is effective in eliminating active termite infestations in homes, and that TERMINATE is as effective or more effective than chemical barrier treatments in preventing termite infestations and damage in homes.
The complaint also alleges that in its advertising and promotional materials:
§ The company implies that use of TERMINATE requires only that users place bait stakes in the ground around their home and TERMINATE does the work. In fact, the use of the product requires the consumer to inspect the bait stakes every 2-3 months, or more frequently where termite infestation is heavy or suspected; add additional stakes if termite activity exists; and replace or remove all stakes every 9 months.
§ The company implies that TERMINATE is a do-it-yourself method of killing termites that damage homes. According to the complaint, the company has failed to disclose that bait stakes do not work against drywood termites, and that professional pest control services are recommended for homes with active infestations or in areas with drywood or Formosan termites.
In addition to asking the court for the preliminary injunction, the FTC and states are seeking consumer redress. Copies of the full text of the complaint are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov.