In the Matter of

JEANIE ELLER, individually.



The Federal Trade Commission, having reason to believe that Jeanie Eller, individually (“respondent”), has violated the provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act, and it appearing to the Commission that this proceeding is in the public interest, alleges:

1. Respondent Jeanie Eller has manufactured, advertised, offered for sale, sold, and distributed products to the public, including Jeanie Eller’s Action Reading. Individually or in concert with others, she participated in the acts or practices alleged in this complaint. Her residence is 42828 North 7th Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85027.

2. Respondent entered into an agreement with Mega Systems, Inc., a corporation which creates and distributes program-length radio and television commercials which run for 30 minutes or less and fit within normal radio and television broadcasting time slots. The television commercials were and are broadcast on network, independent and cable television stations throughout the United States. The radio commercials were and are broadcast on network and independent radio stations throughout the United States. In at least one of Mega Systems, Inc.’s program-length television and radio commercials, respondent acts as the guest and promotes Jeanie Eller’s Action Reading.

3. The acts and practices of respondent alleged in this complaint have been in or affecting commerce, as "commerce" is defined in Section 4 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.

4. Respondent has created and disseminated advertisements for Jeanie Eller’s Action Reading, including but not necessarily limited to the attached Exhibits A and B. These advertisements contain the following statements:

A. Trudeau: “According to my guest, Jennie Eller, every single person -- if they can see, hear and talk -- can learn to read, guaranteed. She also claims that her revolutionary approach to teaching reading is easy, quick and works 100 percent of the time.”


Eller: “That is the program I took back. We started using it in the Anchorage School District. Every child that went through it learned to read.”


“And when you go through this program, you start at the beginning and you take every logical step right through it. And when you come out, you are a fluent, independent reader. And I’ve put my 30 years of teaching credibility on the line. It absolutely is guaranteed to work.”


“[B]ut any child that you show them how that code works, you can’t stop them from reading. They crack that code. And that code is the key.”


Trudeau: “But you’re talking about this secret code. The government says -- you were mentioning to me -- that teaches (sic) certain kids just can’t read, and you’re saying that’s hogwash.”

Eller: “It is. It’s absolute hogwash. I’ve been teaching for 30 years and I’ve never had anyone not learn to read.”

Trudeau: “Because I just (sic) watching a show the other day on -- on -- on TV and they were saying, this guy’s trying to read. He’s tried -- he tried a phonics program himself. He -- he still can’t read. He’s frustrated. He thinks he’s dumb. And they said -- they made the statement, the only way he can read is by hard, hard work, and he still may never learn how to read.”

Eller: “No, that is absolutely not true, and I hope he’s watching this show, because if he’ll get this program, I guarantee you he’ll learn to read.”


“[I]f you tell them what the words are, they know those words. They speak those words. The people that I taught to read on the Oprah Show, as soon as they could decode, decipher the newspaper, they knew those words. They were articulate people. They spoke the language. They understood the language. They just could not decipher the language.”


“Absolutely, because it not only teaches the decoding, the phonics part, it teaches comprehension.”


B. For Adults


Easier and quicker for adults to learn, because most already know the vocabulary - they just need to learn how to “decode” written words and sentences.


Most people can complete the entire program and learn to read within 4-6 weeks.


1. How can it improve comprehension?

Even though we’ve heard a lot of words before in conversation, a person who can’t read wouldn’t recognize them. Action Reading teaches you how to read words for their meaning. (It’s like putting a persons (sic) face to their name, when you have only spoken to them on the telephone.)


6. Does Jeanie guarantee that she can teach anyone to read?

Action Reading can teach anyone who can see, hear, think and talk to read...


14. How does it work?

Jeanie’s proven, phonics based method incorporates all of the learning senses through art, games, body movements, and music to create an active and entertaining experience that doesn’t seem like work.

Learning to read has been compared to cracking a code. Once you know the secret it’s easy to decode a sentence. Action Reading teaches the sounds and patterns of our language and how to use them for decoding. (Exhibit B; Telephone Sales Script.)

5. Through the means described in Paragraph 4, respondent has represented, expressly or by implication, that Jeanie Eller’s Action Reading is successful in teaching reading 100% of the time.

6. Through the means described in Paragraph 4, respondent has represented, expressly or by implication, that she possessed and relied upon a reasonable basis that substantiated the representation set forth in Paragraph 5, at the time the representation was made.

7. In truth and in fact, respondent did not possess and rely upon a reasonable basis that substantiated the representation set forth in Paragraph 5, at the time the representation was made. Therefore, the representation set forth in Paragraph 6 was, and is, false or misleading.

8. The acts and practices of respondent as alleged in this complaint constitute unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce in violation of Sections 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act.

THEREFORE, the Federal Trade Commission this sixth day of April, 1998, has issued this complaint against respondent.

By the Commission, Commissioner Thompson and Commissioner Swindle not participating.

Donald S. Clark