Sellers of Mercola-Brand Tanning Beds will Pay $5.3 Million in Refunds for False Advertising
Tanning enthusiasts who purchased an indoor tanning bed from Mercola will be getting a refund as part of a settlement between the company and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The agency filed a federal court complaint against Joseph Mercola and his two companies for using false claims in marketing and advertising for Mercola-brand indoor tanning systems. The company will pay more than $5.3 million in refunds and fees associated with administering them.
According to the complaint, the company ran ads claiming that their indoor tanning systems are safe, that research proves indoor tanning does not increase the risk of melanoma skin cancer, and that their systems which deliver both ultraviolet (UV) light and red light can reverse the appearance of aging. All of these statements, say the FTC, are false, misleading, or unsubstantiated.
The ads also falsely stated that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has endorsed the use of indoor tanning systems as safe, and represented that an organization called the Vitamin D Council has recommended the tanning systems – without disclosing that the Council was paid for its endorsement.
The companies sold several indoor tanning systems, all intended for home use, which cost between $1,200 and $4,000.
Along with the refunds, the settlement bands the companies and their owner from marketing or selling of indoor tanning systems, from making false of unsubstantiated health-related or efficacy claims, from misrepresenting the existence or results of scientific tests or studies, and from falsely claiming that the benefits of such devices are scientifically proven.
Customers who purchased a system between January 1, 2012 and today will be eligible for a refund. An FTC redress administrator will send refund eligibility notices and claim forms to these consumers. Purchasers who want a refund must return the claim form by the date stated in the letter.