FTC Charges Mail Order Company Misrepresented
Tanning Products and "Fuel-Saving" Device

Consent Agreement Settles Charges

FTC News Release
November 7, 1990

The Federal Trade Commission has charged Haverhills, a San Francisco mail-order company, with making false and unsubstantiated advertising claims about suntanning and fuel-economy devices. A consent agreement issued today for public comment prohibits Haverhills and its owners from misrepresenting the safety or abilities of such devices.

According to a complaint accompanying the agreement, Haverhills violated the FTC Act by making deceptive advertising claims for two products, the Star Gold Tanner and the Fuel Magnetizer, in its catalogues. The complaint alleges that Haverhills falsely claimed that the Solar Gold Tanner can be used without the risk of harmful side effects associated with exposure to the sun's radiation, including skin cancer and skin aging, and that the devices can be used safely without eye protection.

The FTC's complaint further alleges that Haverhills falsely represented that the Solar Gold tanner is safer than the sun because it does not emit UVC radiation. UVC radiation does not penetrate the earth's atmosphere and therefore does not cause the harmful side effects associated with exposure to the sun's radiation, according to the complaint.

The consent agreement prohibits the company from misrepresenting that use of tanning devices does not pose a risk of the harmful side effects associated with the sun, increase the risk of developing skin cancer, or contribute to skin aging. Under the agreement, respondents also must not misrepresent that sun-emitted UVC radiation penetrates the earth's atmosphere and therefore causes the harmful side effects associated with exposure to the sun's radiation. The agreement requires the respondents to advise prospective purchasers to read the warning label affixed to the device as required by the Food and Drug Administration. The label warns users that overexposure to ultraviolet radiation can cause skin injury, including premature skin aging and skin cancer, and that failure to wear protective eye wear may result in severe burns or long-term injury to the eyes.

The complaint also alleges that the respondents falsely represented that the Fuel Magnetizer can "Save up to 25% on your gas mileage with this ingenious device." However, the typical driver will not get up to 25 percent fuel economy improvement if the Fuel Magnetizer is installed, according to the complaint.

Under the consent agreement, Haverhills is prohibited from representing that the Fuel Magnetizer or any other similar automobile retrofit device will result in fuel economy when installed in any motor vehicle. The agreement also requires that for any other gasoline or engine-oil additive or other device offered, the respondents must have a reasonable basis, consisting of specified tests, for making any fuel-economy improvement claims.

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