FTC Seeks To Halt Deceptive Pain Relief Claims and Provide Consumer Refunds
The Federal Trade Commission has charged Illinois-based marketers of a purported pain- relief product called the Q-Ray Ionized Bracelet (Q-Ray Bracelet) with making false and unsubstantiated claims. In its complaint filed in federal district court, the FTC alleges that QT, Inc., Q-Ray, Company, and Bio-Metal, Inc., all operating out of one location in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, and their principals, Que Te Park and Jung Joo Park, violated the FTC Act by deceptively claiming that the Q-Ray Bracelet is a fast-acting effective treatment for various types of pain and that tests prove that the Q-Ray Bracelet relieves pain. In fact, according to the FTC, a recent study conducted by the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, shows that the Q-Ray Bracelet is no more effective than a placebo bracelet at relieving muscular and joint pain. A federal district court has issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the defendants. The TRO prohibits defendants from making any misleading or deceptive claims about the Q-Ray Bracelet and freezes defendants' assets.
The Q-Ray Bracelet is a C-shaped metal bracelet that the defendants claim is "ionized" through a secret process that gives it pain-relieving abilities. The defendants promote their product through a nationally televised 30-minute infomercial and on the Internet at www.qray.com, www.q-ray.com, and www.bio-ray.com. The defendants allege in their ads that their product works by supposedly altering the body's positive and negative energy to naturally relieve pain from a variety of ailments, including musculoskeletal pain, sciatica, headaches, tendinitis, and injuries. The Q-Ray Bracelet ranges in price from $49.95 to $249.95.
The defendants' infomercial advertises a risk-free money back guarantee that allows consumers to return the Q-Ray Bracelet for a full refund within 30 days if they are not satisfied. The FTC's complaint alleges, however, that consumers were not able to readily obtain a full refund of the purchase price if they returned the product within 30 days, as promised in the defendants' infomercials. In fact, according to the FTC, many unsatisfied purchasers were unable to obtain refunds despite repeatedly contacting the defendants. Furthermore, some purchasers who viewed the infomercial and went to the defendants' Web site to order the Q-Ray Bracelet were not given this 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
The FTC is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, including redress, to consumers who purchased the Q-Ray Bracelet.
The FTC vote to authorize the staff to file the complaint was 5-0. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, on May 27, 2003.
NOTE: The Commission authorizes the filing of a complaint when it has "reason to believe" that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant actually has violated the law. The case will be decided by the court.
Copies of the complaint are available from the FTC's Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1 877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
(FTC File No. 032 3011)
(Civil Action No 03 C-3578)
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