Infomercial marketers face deceptive ad charges


Three of the cable industry's top buyers of infomercial time are facing
charges of false advertising and misrepresentation of refund and warranty

The Federal Trade Commission filed complaints Wednesday against three
marketers of electronic abdominal-exercise belts in federal district courts in
Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

The companies market products known as "AB Energizer," "AbTronic" and "Fast
Abs" through heavy play of 30-minute spots on USA Network, TNN: The National Network, Lifetime Television, E! Entertainment Television, FX and
Comedy Central.

Each product's commercial has aired "well over 1,000 times," and each is among
the 10 most frequently aired infomercials, according to the FTC.

The complaints alleged that Electronic Products Distribution in San Diego,
Hudson Berkley Corp. in Las Vegas and United Fitness of America in Ventura,
Calif., falsely claimed to cause weight loss or eliminate cellulite.

The companies also claimed that the products were safe without disclosing that
people with pacemakers, phlebitis or cancerous lesions and pregnant women should
not use electronic muscle-stimulation devices.

The companies also failed to disclose that consumers must cover the cost of
shipping bulky items under their "free" refund policies.

The FTC seeks permanent injunctions against the allegedly false advertising
claims, and it is asking the courts to order that redress be paid to consumers.

The devices sell for $40 to $120.