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Made in South Carolina, China

With claims of being assembled in the USA, Element TV's are really just the Great American Middle Man

Kate Hogan's picture
by Kate Hogan on
Sep 08, 2016

When we see red, white, and blue packaging, we get excited. Americans are more likely to pay more for Made in the USA products because we feel that it is helping the country. We want to bring jobs back to America and create more jobs for the working class. So when we see a television set with the Statue of Liberty on it, anyone would automatically assume that it was made in the United States and would be a safe buy. The problem is, there is no company that flat out sells Made in the USA televisions. The closest thing out there is “assembled in the USA.” One company that claims this is Element Electronics.

Element Electronics is an electronics manufacturing plant that boasts about bringing the best technology home to Winnsboro, South Carolina. From that plant, they assemble flat screen TVs that are sold by Walmart, Target, Sam’s Club, and other retail outlets. The TVs are shipped in red, white, and blue packages, often toting the Statue of Liberty and the sayings, “Assembled in the USA”, and “America Matters”.

Unfortunately, there is more to this story. According to The Wall Street Journal , the Element plant doesn’t really do that much  assembly. Employees open boxes that contain TVs shipped from China, look inside for any damage or issues, screw in a Chinese-made memory board, and then run some tests. That’s why the very fine print on the back of many sets say “Made in China”. Then they put the television back in the American flag packaging and ship it to Walmart.

That’s why the Alliance for American Manufacturing petitioned the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on grounds of false claims. They don’t believe that enough assembly is happening for the products to boast “Assembled in the USA”. The FTC says that a product’s “principal assembly takes place in the U.S. and the assembly is substantial.” The FTC states that a product can claim being assembled in the USA if it goes through a substantial transformation on US soil. Element’s screwdriver type assembly does not match these kinds of standards. So the AAM has asked the FTC to tell Element to stop using that phrase of its products.

Essentially, Element imports sets from overseas, installs Chinese-made memory boards into them, and then ships them off to larger retailers. There is nothing too American made about it but if we want to give them some credit, we can label them the Great American Middle Man. 

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