QVC gets slim slammed by FTC

The home TV shopping network agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine to settle a Federal Trade Commission charge? that it made false and unsubstantiated claims regarding three supplements and a cellulite cream. The brands were For Women Only weight-loss pills; Lite Bites weight-loss food bars and shakes; and Bee-Alive Royal Jelly energy supplements and Lipofactor Cellulite Target Lotion.

According to the FTC, QVC aired as many as 200 advertorial/television programs in which false and unsubstantiated claims were made about the products. The settlement requires QVC to pay the fine and further bars QVC from making unsubstantiated supplement claims and promises that any drug or cosmetic can eliminate or reduce cellulite.

QVC's senior vice president and general counsel, Larry Hayes, told Forbes that "the company doesn't believe its ads were deceptive but agreed to the settlement to avoid further legal expenses." The settlement allocates $6 million to consumers who purchased the product and the remaining $1.5 million is a civil penalty.

"QVC aired ads that weren't true and violated an FTC order," said Eileen Harrington, acting director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Simply put, we aren't going to let QVC get away with this. The company is responsible for the product claims made on its programs, and we expect that going forward, QVC will do a better job for its audience and make sure that its programs are truthful and not deceptive."

The alleged claims included that the weight-loss supplements could cause significant weight loss and long-term maintenance, as well as preventing carbohydrates from being stored as fat. In addition the case called into question claims of energy-enhancement and fatigue reduction for individuals with physical ailments and chronic problems with fatigue.

The FTC also said the claims for Lipofactor lotion falsely stated the product could reduce cellulite, including measurable decreases in the sizes of individuals' arms, legs, and abdomens.

The resolution is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendants of a law violation. A stipulated order requires approval by the court and has the force of law when signed by the judge.

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