The Federal Trade Commission Alleges Electronic Abdominal Gadgets Won’t Provide Six-Pack Abs. This is the FTC News Release.
“Now you can get rock hard abs with no sweat”
“Lose 4 Inches in 30 Days Guaranteed”
“30% More Effective Than Normal Exercise”
“10 Minutes = 600 Sit-Ups”
These are the types of claims the Federal Trade Commission has challenged in complaints filed in federal district courts against three widely advertised electronic abdominal exercise belts – AB Energizer, AbTronic, and Fast Abs. The FTC alleges that the marketers of the devices, which use electronic muscle stimulation (EMS), have falsely advertised that users will get “six pack” or “washboard” abs without exercise.
“For years, marketers of diet and exercise products have been preying on overweight, out-of-shape consumers by hawking false hope in a pill, false hope in a bottle, and, now, in a belt,” said FTC Chairman Timothy J. Muris. “Unfortunately, there are no magic pills, potions, or pulsators for losing weight and getting into shape. The only winning combination is changing your diet and exercise.”
The FTC filed three separate complaints against the following defendants:
AB Energizer marketers: Electronic Products Distribution, L.L.C., based in San Diego, California, and its general partners, Thomas Nelson and Holly Hernandez, also known as Holly Bryan; Energizer Products, Inc., based in Tarzana, California; Ab Energizer, L.L.C., based in San Diego, California; and AbFlex USA, Inc., also located in San Diego, and its president, Martin Van Der Hoeven; AbTronic marketers: Hudson Berkley Corporation, based in Las Vegas, Nevada, and also doing business as Hudson Berkeley, Inc., and its officer and director, Matthias Granic; Bismarck Labs Corporation, based in Palm Springs, California and also doing business as BLC Bismarck Labs Corporation; TMI Tricom Marketing, Inc., a Delaware corporation; CCI CAD CAM Industries Ltd., Inc., located in Hong Kong; and Bernd Ebert, a director and officer of BLC, managing director of TMI, and president of CCI; and Fast Abs marketers: United Fitness of America, L.L.C., based in Ventura, California, and its sole manager, George Sylva; and Tristar Products, Inc., based in Parsippany, New Jersey, and its president, Kishore Mirchandani, also known as Keith Mirchandani.
According to the FTC, the defendants sold their devices through heavily aired, 30-minute infomercials on national cable television stations such as USA, TNN, Lifetime, E!, FX, and Comedy Central. Each of the infomercials has been among the ten most frequently aired infomercials in weekly U.S. rankings and has aired well over a thousand times. The infomercials feature fitness professionals who tout the products’ efficacy, user testimonials, photos of models sporting trim, sculpted midsections, and purported expert opinions from health care professionals. The AB Energizer and AbTronic marketers also aired shorter television commercials. In addition, Fast Abs has been advertised in national newspaper magazines such as Parade, and mailed circulars such as Clipper Magazine.
The defendants advertised the three devices through Internet Web sites and at national retail outlets. In addition, the defendants made claims on the packaging for the three products, which the FTC also allege were false and deceptive. The products sell for about $40-$120.
The FTC’s complaints allege that the advertisements for the three ab devices falsely represent that: the ab devices cause fat loss and inch loss; the ab devices will give users well-defined abdominal muscles (e.g., “rock hard,” “six pack” or “washboard” abs); and use of the ab devices is equivalent to (and, for AbTronic and Fast Abs, superior to) conventional abdominal exercises, such as sit-ups or crunches. The complaint against the AB Energizer defendants also alleges that they falsely represented that the device will cause weight loss. The AbTronic complaint alleges that the defendants falsely represented that the device eliminates cellulite, and that a scientific study proves that use of the AbTronic improves abdominal strength better than exercise alone.
The FTC also says the firms’ money back refund policy appears not to work, and some customer have not received timely refunds.