Florida Company Agrees to Pay Over $50,000 in Refunds
over Deceptive Weight-Loss Claims for "Acu-Stop 2000"
FTC News Release
May 10, 1995
Original Marketing, Inc., two of its corporate officers and an affiliated advertising agency, have agreed to pay consumer refunds to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they made false and unsubstantiated advertising claims that an acupressure device — called "Acu-Stop 2000" — designed to be inserted into the ear like a hearing aid, causes weight loss and controls the appetite. In addition to the $50,000 in refunds, the proposed settlement would prohibit the respondents from making performance or benefits claims for any weight-loss or weight-control product or program or acupressure device unless the claims are true and supported by adequate scientific substantiation. Each individual respondent also would be required to post a $300,000 performance bond before marketing any weight-loss or weight-control product or program or acupressure device.
The FTC's complaint detailing the allegations names as respondents: Original Marketing, Inc., doing business as Acu-Stop 2000; Franklin & Joseph, Inc.; Barry A. Weiss; and Roger Franklin. Original Marketing is based in Pompano Beach, Florida, and Franklin & Joseph is based in White Plains, New York.
According to the complaint, the respondents marketed and sold the Acu-Stop 2000 device through advertisements and promotional materials. Acu-Stop 2000 sold for about $45, including shipping and handling. The challenged ads and promotional materials stated that users of the Acu-Stop 2000 will lose significant weight with "no diets," "no exercise," and "no pills."
The complaint alleges that, through these materials, the respondents represented that use of Acu-Stop 2000 causes significant weight loss, that it does so without diet or exercise, and that use of the device controls the appetite or eliminates a person's craving for food. These claims are all false and unsubstantiated, the FTC alleged. The FTC complaint also alleges that the respondents made the false representation that the Acu-Stop 2000 is scientifically proven to cause significant weight loss and control appetite.
Further, according to the complaint, the respondents used testimonials from consumers who made statements such as, "I lost 33 pounds in 30 days." The respondents allegedly represented that the testimonials reflect the typical experience of those who use the device, which, according to the FTC complaint, is not true.
The proposed consent agreement to settle the charges, announced today for public comment, would prohibit the respondents from making any of the allegedly false representations specified in the complaint for the Acu-Stop 2000 or any other acupressure device.
The proposed settlement also would prohibit the respondents from falsely representing that endorsements or testimonials for any weight-loss or weight-control product or program or any acupressure device represent the typical or ordinary experience of users. In addition, the consent agreement would prohibit the respondents from misrepresenting the existence or results of any tests or studies in connection with marketing any weight-loss or weight-control product or program, or any acupressure device.
Further, under the proposed consent agreement, the respondents would be required to pay refunds to purchasers of the Acu-Stop 2000 who have previously returned it to the respondents, or who return it within 90 days after the order is final. The settlement would require the respondents to deposit $50,000 into an escrow account to be used for certain of the refunds. Under the settlement, the respondents would have to pay all refunds requested within the specified time period, even if they exceed $50,000. Any funds remaining in the escrow account after all refunds are paid would be paid to the United States Treasury.
The order also would require each individual respondent, Weiss and Franklin, to post a $300,000 performance bond, or to pay the same amount into an escrow account, before marketing any weight-loss or weight-control product or program, or any acupressure device.
Finally, the proposed settlement includes various reporting requirements that would assist the FTC in monitoring the respondents' compliance.
The Commission vote to approve the proposed consent agreement for public comment was 5-0.
- In the Matter of Original Marketing (d/b/a ACU-STOP 2000), Franklin & Joseph, Barry A. Weiss, and Roger Franklin. 120 FTC 278, FTC File No. 932-3234.
This page was posted on December 23, 2005.