The Federal Trade Commission has charged California-based marketers of the “Balance Bracelet,” a purported pain relief product, with making false and unsubstantiated claims. In its complaint filed in federal district court in Los Angeles, California, the FTC alleges that Media Maverick, Inc., operating out of San Luis Obispo, California, and its officers Mark Jones and Charles Cody, violated the FTC Act by deceptively claiming that the Balance Bracelet is a fast-acting, effective treatment for many types of pain. According to the FTC, clinical testing has found that ionized bracelets, such as the Balance Bracelet, are no more effective at relieving muscular and joint pain than placebo (non-ionized) bracelets. The FTC is seeking permanent injunctive relief, including redress to consumers who purchased the Balance Bracelet.
The Balance Bracelet is a C-shaped metal bracelet that is allegedly “electro-polarized” by an undisclosed process. The defendants promoted the bracelet through nationally disseminated 30-minute infomercials and on the Internet at www.balancebraceletusa.com. Their advertise-ments allegedly claimed that the Balance Bracelet relieves arthritis pain, joint pain, back pain, and injury-related pain, among other things. The defendants’ advertisements also allegedly claimed that pain is caused by excess static electricity in the body, which purportedly comes from an imbalance of positive and negative energy, and that the Balance Bracelet returns the body to its “natural ionic balance.” The Balance Bracelet sells for $79.90, plus shipping and handling.
In May 2003, the FTC charged the marketers of a similar product, the Q-Ray Ionized Bracelet, with making false and unsubstantiated pain-relief claims as well as failing to honor their advertised money-back guarantee. The defendants in the Q-Ray case entered into a stipulated preliminary injunction halting the pain-relief claims for the product. That case currently is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
The Commission vote to authorize the staff to file the complaint was 5-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on May 13, 2004.
NOTE: The Commission files 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 has actually 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 in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), 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. 032-3184)
(Civil Action No. 04-3395-SVW(CWx))