The Federal Trade Commission yesterday accused Sears, Roebuck & Co. of making deceptive advertising claims for its Lady Kenmore dishwashers.
Also named in the FTC complaint was J. Walter Thompson Co., the advertising agency that prepared the ads.
The FTC's complaint stated that, contrary to Sear's claims, "The Lady Kenmore dishwater will not completely remove - without prior rinsing or scraping - all residue and film from all dishes, and from pots and pans used in cooking and basing according to normal consumer receipes . . ."
It also alleges that the ad misrepresents that the "Sani-Wash" cycle destroys all harmful and other backteria and micro-organisms on the dishes, pots and pans.
Neither Sears nor the advertising agency that prepared the ads had a reasonable basis for those claims, or for saying that dishes on the top rack of the dishwasher will get as clean as those on the bottom rack, the agency said.
In a statement released here. Sears said it will contest the complaint. According to the company, the charges concern "the substantiation of a minor statement in a dishwasher ad that last ran three years ago."
Sears adden that it gave the FTC "voluminous test data to support the cleaning capability of the dishwasher" and adequacy and interpretation of the company's testing.
Under a proposed order attached to the complaint, the commission would bar Sears from making claims about any household appliance without "completent and reliable" scientific tests or other evidence to back them.
Sears has 30 days in which to file an answer to the complaint. The FTC set a hearing for Jan. 5, at which time Sears can show cause whey an order should not be entered requiring it to stop the alleged unsubstantiated claims.