Ed's Blog

Kudos to the consumer enforcers over at the Federal Trade Commission. Today they announced a $25 million settlement (including consumer refunds) with the marketers of the Ab Circle Pro, an exercise machine that promised you could lose weight and get ripped abs in "just 3 minutes a day." According to the FTC, a settling defendant, "pitchwoman Jennifer Nicole Lee, compared the Ab Circle Pro to a gym workout, saying, 'You can either do 30 minutes of abs and cardio or just three minutes a day.  The choice is yours.'" There are several defendants including defendant Lee (who herself does not owe penalties). The bulk of the penalties and refunds will be paid by the Reader's Digest Association, which owns several of the co-defendant firms that actually marketed the products. Here's a link to a short Consumer Reports Magazine Youtube video explaining that: "No, this thing doesn't really work unless you also actually exercise and diet, too, and the TV ads are full of teeny disclaimers." Consumers, here is a link to the FTC's Ab Circle Pro refund claims page.

Also today, a federal judge has approved a "record" $478 million settlement in the FTC's case against a "get rich quick" infomercial and telemarketing king, John Beck, and various related firms and persons for "deceiving close to one million consumers with phony claims [..] of easy money." "The Order also imposes a lifetime ban that puts three of the defendants permanently out of the infomercial and telemarketing businesses." In addition to selling a variety of real estate and other schemes under various names for an entry price of $39.95, the "defendants sold personal coaching services, which cost up to $14,995, to consumers who purchased any of the three systems."

All in all, a very good day for the FTC and for the consumers it protects.

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