The Federal Trade Commission distributed more than 2,335 refund checks today to consumers who purchased “Rite Aid Germ Defense” tablets and lozenges believing that they would prevent and treat colds and the flu or reduce the severity and duration of these illnesses. The FTC charged Rite Aid and its supplier with false and deceptive advertising as part of its crackdown on companies making unproven claims about cold and flu remedies.
The refund checks were mailed on June 7, 2010. Under the settlement with Rite Aid, consumers could submit refund requests for up to six packages of Germ Defense, either electronically or by mail, by January 30, 2010. All claims submitted by the deadline are being paid, with the average check totaling about $20.44. This was the first FTC case in which consumers had the option of submitting electronic claims. These are legitimate checks, and the FTC urges consumers to cash them.
The refunds stem from a July 2009 FTC complaint against Rite Aid. According to the complaint, Rite Aid marketed several flavors of Germ Defense lozenges and tablets and claimed they could: reduce the risk of, or prevent, colds and flu; protect against or fight germs; reduce the severity or duration of a cold; protect against colds and flu in crowded places; and boost the immune system. The FTC charged that there was inadequate evidence to support these claims.
The Rite Aid refund checks are valid for 60 days from the date they are issued. A special phone line has been set up to handle questions about the refunds. Consumers should call 1-877-341-4602 for further information.
For more information about the case, see the court documents and news release regarding the settlement at: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/07/riteaide.shtm.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,800 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.