ValueVision Settles With FTC on Health Product Claims

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Home shopping retailer ValueVision International will offer refunds to dissatisfied customers who bought certain weight-loss, cellulite-treatment and anti-hair-loss products as part of an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission, the government agency said yesterday.

The proposed settlement also calls for ValueVision to drop health or medical claims about any food, drug, dietary supplement, cellulite-treatment product or weight-loss program unless it can back up the claims with scientific evidence.

The FTC charged ValueVision, Eden Prairie, MN, with making unsubstantiated health claims about five products.

ValueVision, which is partly owned by NBC and now operates the ShopNBC shopping network, is required to offer refunds, including shipping and handling, to consumers who purchased any of the products after Feb. 1, 2000. The products cost $10 to $40 each, said Anthony Giombetti, director of corporate communications at ShopNBC.

Giombetti said ValueVision would send letters in about 30 days to every consumer who purchased any of the products, pending the government's final resolution of the matter.

He added, however, that the retailer had not received complaints about any of the products. ValueVision discontinued the products last year.

Giombetti said the settlement would not affect the company's marketing because the five products represent a "small percentage of 1 percent" of the company's total sales.

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