BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Recommends Gtech Discontinue Challenged Claims for ‘AirRAM’ Cordless Vacuum; Finds International Test Methodology Didn’t Reflect U.S. Homes

New York, NY – April 17, 2014 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Gtech USA, Inc., discontinue a wide range of advertising claims for the company’s “AirRAM Cordless Stick Vacuum.”

While NAD determined that the advertiser’s “innovative compression technology” claim was supported, NAD recommended Gtech discontinue its claim that the AirRAM “holds as much dirt as some other bagless vacuums.”

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The claims at issue were challenged by Dyson, Inc., a competing maker of vacuum cleaners.

In this case, NAD reviewed broad parity claims that the AirRAM performs as well as a corded upright vacuum on both carpets and hard wood floors, promising consumers “proven performance” and the convenience of a cordless vacuum. As support, Gtech relied upon comparison testing of the AirRAM pursuant to an international standard test methodology, ICE 60312, against leading corded vacuums in the U.K.

NAD, in previous cases, had expressed concern that IEC 60312 does not test carpets typically found in U.S. homes including level-loop, multi-level, plush and shag. Instead, it tests on Wilton wool carpet, a lower pile carpet, and hardwood floors. Further, NAD noted, the advertiser’s testing compared its product’s cleaning capability to corded uprights sold in the U.K., including models from Dyson, Vax, Hoover, Panasonic and Russell Hobbs.

The advertiser provided no evidence that the models in the U.K. were the same or similar to models available in the U.S or that the models tested represented 85% of the U.S. market. NAD precedent makes clear that products must be tested against conditions found in the U.S., as well as products offered for sale in the U.S. market.

Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD recommended that Gtech discontinue the following claims:

  •  “AirRAM is a new design of cordless vacuum cleaner, with electrical vacuum performance. 
  •  Change the way you clean your home forever – faster, easier, and more convenient.”
  •  “[P]roven performance on both carpet and hard floors. It’s highly efficient system means you enjoy the cleaning performance of electrical vacuums, without the cord.”
  •  “High Performance: Performs like an electrical vacuum cleaner on carpet and hard floors.”
  •  “The AirRAM is specifically designed for cleaning, with proven performance on carpet, hardwood and tiled floors. It matched the performance of UK cord powered upright vacuums when tested in its home market – while giving you all the convenience of being cordless.”
  •  The Gtech AirRAM matches the cleaning power of corded upright vacuums with ease.”
  •  “The AirRAM takes everything you hate about vacuuming and makes it disappear … The dust cloud when you empty the cylinder. History.”
  •  “Cleaner Emptying. Compacts direct into easy-to-dispose ‘bales.’”
  •  “No more dust clouds from messy bags of dirt … Just glide the Gtech AirRAM across your floor or carpet, and its innovative technology compresses dirt into compact ‘bricks’ for easy disposal.”
  •  “Compresses dirt into small bales that you lift out in a removable tray and simply drop into the bin”
  •  “The only vacuum cleaner you will ever need.”
  •  “[Dyson] loses its suction. It’s really heavy and clunky. The cord always pulls out.”

Gtech, in its advertiser’s statement, said that while it disagreed with NAD “on a number of points,” the company “agrees to comply with NAD’s recommendation to discontinue or modify its advertising where noted. Gtech will conduct further testing using testing methodologies and industry protocols that are relevant for the US market, e.g. ASTM performance testing against 85% of the US upright vacuum market.”