Axe Hair Products Owner to Pay More Than $770,000 to Settle OC Consumer Fraud Case

A case that began after a student intern brought a container of an Axe hair styling product into the Orange County District Attorney's office has led to $770,000 settlement by the company's owner with the OCDA to resolve a consumer protection complaint.

That day in August 2013 had the intern bringing the Axe product into the OCDA's Consumer Unit, explaining that the container appeared to have a false bottom.

"The Orange County Department of Weights and Measures conducted an investigation and disassembled Axe containers purchased in local stores and found that the container tubs misrepresented the quantity of the hair product they contained because they were fraudulently constructed and also contained substantial empty space," explains an OCDA statement on the settlement.

Prosecutors filed a consumer protection lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court that alleged Unilever United States, Inc., which owns the Axe brand, advertised and packaged certain varieties of its hair styling products in a deceptive manner.

Judge Franz E. Miller signed a final judgment on April 23 that orders Unilever to pay $750,000 in civil penalties, $24,000 for the cost of the OCDA investigation and about $3,900 for the work by the Orange County Department of Weights and Measures.

The large international consumer goods company was also restricted under the order from manufacturing, selling, distributing or advertising Axe hair styling products packaged in a fraudulent manner. "It is permanently enjoined from packaging Axe hair styling products in containers with false bottoms, false sidewalls, false lids and false coverings as well as containers that are constructed or filled in a deceptive, misleading, or fraudulent manner," the OCDA explains. "Unilever is restricted from misrepresenting the size or quantity of its products by using oversized packaging."

Unilever, which admitted no fault or liability, is also required to run a $3 coupon for its Axe hair styling products in all major market California newspapers. One prays their average customer can read.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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