9823633
B259300

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

COMMISSIONERS:

Robert Pitofsky, Chairman
Sheila F. Anthony
Mozelle W. Thompson
Orson Swindle

In the Matter of
FITNESS QUEST, INC., a corporation, and
ROBERT R. SCHNABEL, JR., individually and as an officer of
the corporation.

DOCKET NO. C-3886
DECISION AND ORDER

The Federal Trade Commission having initiated an investigation of certain acts and practices of the respondents named in the caption hereof, and the respondents having been furnished thereafter with a copy of a draft of the complaint which the Bureau of Consumer Protection proposed to present to the Commission for its consideration and which, if issued by the Commission, would charge respondents with violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act; and

The respondents, their attorneys, and counsel for the Commission having thereafter executed an agreement containing a consent order, an admission by the respondents of all the jurisdictional facts set forth in the aforesaid draft of complaint, a statement that the signing of said agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by respondents that the law has been violated as alleged in such complaint, or that the facts as alleged in such complaint, other than jurisdictional facts, are true, and waivers and other provisions as required by the Commission's Rules; and

The Commission having thereafter considered the matter and having determined that it had reason to believe that the respondents have violated the said Act, and that a complaint should issue stating its charges in that respect, and having thereupon accepted the executed consent agreement and placed such agreement on the public record for a period of sixty (60) days, now in conformity with the procedure prescribed in  2.34 of its Rules, the Commission hereby issues its complaint, makes the following jurisdictional findings and enters the following order:

1. Respondent Fitness Quest, Inc. is a Delaware corporation with its principal office or place of business at 1400 Raff Road, SW, Canton, Ohio 44750.

2. Respondent Robert R. Schnabel, Jr. is an officer of the corporate respondent. Individually or in concert with others, he formulates, directs, or controls the policies, acts, or practices of the corporation. His principal office or place of business is the same as that of Fitness Quest, Inc.

3. The Federal Trade Commission has jurisdiction of the subject matter of this proceeding and of the respondents, and the proceeding is in the public interest.

ORDER
DEFINITIONS

For the purposes of this order, the following definitions shall apply:

1. "Competent and reliable scientific evidence" shall mean tests, analyses, research, studies, or other evidence based on the expertise of professionals in the relevant area, that has been conducted and evaluated in an objective manner by persons qualified to do so, using procedures generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results.

2. "Weight-loss product" shall mean any product or program designed to produce weight loss, reduction or elimination of fat, caloric deficit or to suppress the appetite in a user of the product or program.

3. "Clearly and prominently" shall mean as follows:

A. In an advertisement communicated through an electronic medium (such as television, video, radio, and interactive media such as the Internet and online services), if the disclosure is given orally, the disclosure shall be delivered in a volume and cadence sufficient for an ordinary consumer to hear and comprehend it. For a disclosure given in the video portion of an advertisement, the disclosure shall be of a size and shade, and shall appear on the screen for a duration, sufficient for an ordinary consumer to read and comprehend it. In addition to the foregoing, in interactive media the disclosure shall also be unavoidable and shall be presented prior to the consumer incurring any financial obligation.

B. In a print advertisement, promotional material, or instructional manual, the disclosure shall be in a type size and location sufficiently noticeable for an ordinary consumer to read and comprehend it, in print that contrasts with the background against which it appears. In multipage documents, the disclosure shall appear on the cover or first page.

C. On a product label, the disclosure shall be in a type size and location on the principal display panel sufficiently noticeable for an ordinary consumer to read and comprehend it, in print that contrasts with the background against which it appears.

The disclosure shall be in understandable language and syntax. Nothing contrary to, inconsistent with, or in mitigation of the disclosure shall be used in any advertisement or on any label.

4. Unless otherwise specified, "respondents" shall mean Fitness Quest, Inc., a corporation, its successors and assigns, and its officers; Robert R. Schnabel, Jr., individually and as an officer of the corporation; and each of the above's agents, representatives and employees.

5. "Commerce" shall mean as defined in Section 4 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C.  44.

I.

IT IS ORDERED that respondents, directly or through any corporation, subsidiary, division, or other device, in connection with the labeling, advertising, promotion, offering for sale, sale, or distribution of any exercise equipment or any weight-loss product in or affecting commerce, shall not make any representation, in any manner, expressly or by implication:

A. About the rate at which users burn calories, or the number of calories users burn, through use of such product;
B. About the weight loss or fat loss users achieve through use of such product;
C. That such product causes a specific reduction in the size or shape of specific, desired areas of the body;
D. That such product causes a specific reduction in users' body size or shape, or body measurements;
E. About the comparative efficacy of such product; or
F. About the benefits, performance, or efficacy of such product;

unless, at the time the representation is made, respondents possess and rely upon competent and reliable evidence, which when appropriate must be competent and reliable scientific evidence, that substantiates the representation; provided, however, that nothing in this order shall prohibit the respondents from making a truthful statement that merely describes the existence, design, instructions for use, or content of any such product.

II.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that respondents, in connection with the labeling, advertising, promotion, offering for sale, sale, or distribution of any exercise equipment or any weight-loss product in or affecting commerce, shall not represent, in any manner, expressly or by implication, that the experience represented by any user testimonial or endorsement of the product represents the typical or ordinary experience of members of the public who use the product, unless:

A. At the time it is made, respondents possess and rely upon competent and reliable scientific evidence that substantiates the representation; or

B. Respondents disclose, clearly and prominently, and in close proximity to the endorsement or testimonial, either:

1. what the generally expected results would be for users of the product, or

2. the limited applicability of the endorser's experience to what consumers may generally expect to achieve, that is, that consumers should not expect to experience similar results; or one of the following statements:

(a) "You should not expect to experience these results."
(b) "This result is not typical. You may not do as well."
(c) "This result is not typical. You may be less successful."
(d) "______'s success is not typical. You may not do as well."
(e) "______'s experience is not typical. You may achieve less."
(f) "Results not typical."

For purposes of this Part, "endorsement" shall mean as defined in 16 C.F.R.  255.0(b).

III.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that respondent Fitness Quest, Inc. and its successors and assigns, and respondent Robert R. Schnabel, Jr. shall, for five (5) years after the last date of dissemination of any representation covered by this order, maintain and upon request make available to the Federal Trade Commission for inspection and copying:

A. All advertisements and promotional materials containing the representation;

B. All materials that were relied upon in disseminating the representation; and

C. All tests, reports, studies, surveys, demonstrations, or other evidence in their possession or control that contradict, qualify, or call into question the representation, or the basis relied upon for the representation, including complaints and other communications with consumers or with governmental or consumer protection organizations.

IV.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that respondent Fitness Quest, Inc. and its successors and assigns, and respondent Robert R. Schnabel, Jr. shall deliver a copy of this order to all current and future principals, officers, directors, and managers, and to all current and future employees, agents, and representatives having responsibilities with respect to the subject matter of this order, provided, however, that the duty to deliver a copy of this order to future personnel as required by this Part shall terminate three (3) years after the date upon which this order becomes final. Respondents shall deliver this order to current personnel within thirty (30) days after the date of service of this order, and to future personnel within thirty (30) days after the person assumes such position or responsibilities.

V.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that respondent Fitness Quest, Inc. and its successors and assigns, shall notify the Commission at least thirty (30) days prior to any change in the corporation that may affect compliance obligations arising under this order, including but not limited to a dissolution, assignment, sale, merger, or other action that would result in the emergence of a successor corporation; the creation or dissolution of a subsidiary, parent, or affiliate that engages in any acts or practices subject to this order; the proposed filing of a bankruptcy petition; or a change in the corporate name or address. Provided, however, that, with respect to any proposed change in the corporation about which respondent learns less than thirty (30) days prior to the date such action is to take place, respondent shall notify the Commission as soon as is practicable after obtaining such knowledge. All notices required by this Part shall be sent by certified mail to the Associate Director, Division of Enforcement, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580.

VI.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that respondent Robert R. Schnabel, Jr., for a period of ten (10) years after the date of issuance of this order, shall notify the Commission of the discontinuance of his current business or employment, or of his affiliation with any new business or employment. The notice shall include respondent's new business address and telephone number and a description of the nature of the business or employment and his duties and responsibilities. All notices required by this Part shall be sent by certified mail to the Associate Director, Division of Enforcement, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580.

VII.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that respondent Fitness Quest, Inc. and its successors and assigns, and respondent Robert R. Schnabel, Jr. shall, within sixty (60) days after the date of service of this order, and at such other times as the Federal Trade Commission may require, file with the Commission a report, in writing, setting forth in detail the manner and form in which they have complied with this order.

VIII.

This order will terminate on July 26, 2019, or twenty (20) years from the most recent date that the United States or the Federal Trade Commission files a complaint (with or without an accompanying consent decree) in federal court alleging any violation of the order, whichever comes later; provided, however, that the filing of such a complaint will not affect the duration of:

A. Any Part in this order that terminates in less than twenty (20) years;

B. This order's application to any respondent that is not named as a defendant in such complaint; and

C. This order if such complaint is filed after the order has terminated pursuant to this Part.

Provided, further, that if such complaint is dismissed or a federal court rules that the respondent did not violate any provision of the order, and the dismissal or ruling is either not appealed or upheld on appeal, then the order will terminate according to this Part as though the complaint had never been filed, except that the order will not terminate between the date such complaint is filed and the later of the deadline for appealing such dismissal or ruling and the date such dismissal or ruling is upheld on appeal.

By the Commission,
Donald S. Clark
Secretary
SEAL
ISSUED: July 26, 1999