1. News
  2. 2000
  3. January

Current Events in January 2000

Browse Current Events by year


Browse Current Events by month

Get trending consumer news and recalls

    By entering your email, you agree to sign up for consumer news, tips and giveaways from ConsumerAffairs. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Thank you, you have successfully subscribed to our newsletter! Enjoy reading our tips and recommendations.

    Ariens Snowblower Recall

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2000 -- In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Ariens Co., of Brillion, Wis., is voluntarily recalling about 27,000 Ariens and Lesco model snowblowers. Fuel can leak from the fuel-line connection, posing a fire hazard.

    Ariens Co. has received 30 reports of fuel leaking from these snowblowers. No injuries have been reported.

    The recall includes SS322 and SS522 Ariens snowblowers manufactured in 1997 and 1999 with the following model and serial numbers located on the lower handlebar of the unit:

    Model NumberSerial Number

    These Ariens snowblowers are orange and have "ARIENS" and "SS322" or "SS522" written on top of the engine cover.

    The recall also includes Lesco model LSS522 snowblowers with serial numbers 063699000001 through 063699000402. The Lesko snowblowers are green with a "Commercialpulse" label on the engine cover. The model number and serial numbers are on the lower handlebar of the unit.

    Ariens and Lesco retail outlets, hardware stores and home centers, including Home Depot, sold these snowblowers nationwide from July 1997 through January 2000 for $450 to $560.

    Consumers should stop using these snowblowers immediately, and return the unit to a local dealer for a free repair. For more information, call Ariens toll-free at (888) 927-4367 between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. CT Monday through Friday.

    Ariens Snowblower Recall...
    Read lessRead more

    Judge Orders Alpine To Stop Making Unsupported Claims

    Ozone "Air Cleaners" Slapped

    A federal judge has ordered Alpine Industries, Inc., a Greenville, Tennessee, manufacturer of ozone generating air treatment machines to stop claiming that their machines provide relief from any medical condition or remove a wide variety of indoor air pollutants.

    The interim injunction follows a November 1, 1999, verdict where a Federal jury found unanimously that Alpine Industries violated a 1995 Federal Trade Commission order by failing to have "competent and reliable scientific evidence" to support hundreds of claims for their products. Alpine was also found to make unsupported claims that its products control indoor ozone levels.

    The injunction orders Alpine to notify their thousands of dealers that they cannot make any of these claims.

    "What's particularly unconscionable is that the company used unsupported health-benefit claims to tout an expensive product to consumers in clear violation of an FTC order," said Jodie Bernstein, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.

    "This case violates the basic laws of advertising. If a business makes a claim about a product or service, it had better have evidence to support the claim."

    The jury returned a verdict after a 13-day trial and six days of deliberations. It determined that Alpine claimed that Alpine products would prevent or provide relief from various health or medical conditions, including allergies, asthma, sinus and breathing problems, emphysema, lupus, migraine headaches and an unspecified incurable eye disease. The jury determined that these claims lacked competent and reliable scientific support.

    The jury decided that the defendants made claims in their marketing materials that Alpine products removed or reduced various pollutants from indoor air, including mold, mildew, dust, viruses, insect parts, insect eggs, dead human skin, human hair, chemical gases, formaldehyde and other contaminants.

    The jury also decided that Alpine claimed that Alpine products reduced or removed from the air a variety of bacteria and viruses, including streptococcus, staphylococcus, e. coli bacteria, Aspergillus fungus, candida yeast, salmonella, legionella, and tuberculosis bacillus. The jury found that these air cleaning claims (with the exception of claims relating to cigarette smoke, tobacco smoke and smoke removal) were not supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.

    The jury further decided that the defendants' claims that Alpine machines could control the ambient level of indoor ozone using a sensor installed in the machine were not supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.

    The interim injunction is the first step in the ongoing "remedies" phase of the case. The court will decide later the amount of the penalty, whether to order restitution to consumers and the specific terms of a permanent injunction.

    Alpine Industries is a privately held, multi-level marketing plan that claims to have between 75,000 and 100,000 active dealers nationwide. Its main facilities are in Greene County, Tennessee. William J. Converse is the company's president and chief executive officer. Michael Jackson is vice-president and heads the company's marketing activities. The flagship product of Alpine Industries is the XL-15, which sells for approximately $600 per unit.

    The United States was represented in this litigation by Elizabeth Stein, of the Department of Justice's Office of Consumer Litigation, Helen Smith, of the U. S. Attorneys Office and Elena Paoli, of the Federal Trade Commission.

    Judge Orders Alpine to stop making unsupported claims about its air cleaners...
    Read lessRead more

    Formby's Furniture Refinisher

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 18, 2000 -- The Sherwin-Williams Co., of Cleveland, Ohio and Brockway Standard Inc. of Atlanta, Ga., are voluntarily recalling about 3,000 cans of Formby's Conditioning Furniture Refinisher. The product and its vapors can seep or leak from the nozzle base at the top of the can, posing a risk of fire and chemical injuries.

    The firms have received one report of an employee suffering minor burns when refinisher vapors ignited in a retailer's distribution center.

    The recall is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC),

    Formby's Conditioning Furniture Refinisher, used to refinish wood furniture, is sold individually and as part of Formby's "Introduction to Refinishing Kit." The 32-ounce metal can reads, "Formby's Furniture Workshop" and "Furniture Refinisher" in white lettering on a burgundy and mostly green background. A depiction of Homer Formby appears on the face of the can.

    The product can be identified by a code on the bottom of the can written in black ink with one of the following lot number sequences: A961600, A961610, A961620, A961630, A967270 and A969330. Cans with blue ink codes are not subject to this recall.

    Discount department, hardware and hobby stores nationwide sold the refinisher from October 1999 through January 2000. The individual cans sold for about $13 and the kits sold for about $16.

    Consumers should stop using this refinishing product immediately, and place the product in a well-ventilated area. Since it can leak, care should be taken to keep the product from spilling by always keeping the container upright. Also, do not store near any source of ignition, such as near a gas-fueled appliance.

    Consumers should call (800) 523-9299 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET Monday through Friday for instructions on how to handle and return the refinisher for replacement or a refund.

    The Sherwin-Williams Co., of Cleveland, Ohio and Brockway Standard Inc. of Atlanta, Ga., are voluntarily recalling about 3,000 cans of Formby's Conditionin...
    Read lessRead more

    Get trending consumer news and recalls

      By entering your email, you agree to sign up for consumer news, tips and giveaways from ConsumerAffairs. Unsubscribe at any time.

      Thank you, you have successfully subscribed to our newsletter! Enjoy reading our tips and recommendations.

      Credit Agencies

      The nation's three largest consumer credit reporting agencies have agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle charges that they failed to consistently answer consumer calls on their toll-free lines during office hours.

      Equifax, Trans union and Experian agreed to pay monetary settlements and to staff up their call centers so that their blocked call rate is no more than 10 percent and the average holding time is no greater than three minutes, 30 seconds.

      The Federal Trade Commission brought the action against the companies under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

      The FCRA is intended to ensure that consumers are able to resolve inaccuracies in their credit reports. It requires that the credit bureaus operate toll-free numbers accessible to consumers during normal business hours.

      "The reality is that consumers never got the access that the law guarantees," said Jodie Bernstein, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "These cases demonstrate in no uncertain terms that it's time for Equifax, Experian and Trans Union to pick up the phone and meet their obligations to consumers."

      The FTC's complaints against Trans Union and Experian charge that since September 1997, more than one million calls to their toll-free numbers were met with a busy signal or a recorded message. The complaint against Equifax is similar, saying hundreds of thousands of calls went unanswered.

      The complaint also charges that consumers endured "unreasonable" periods of hold, trying to speak to someone about their credit records.

      The companies are also accused of purposely blocking calls from certain locations and area codes.

      Credit Agencies Experian, Trans Union, Equifax Charged with Violations...
      Read lessRead more

      FDA Targets Blue Nitro, GBL Drugs

      FDA Targets Popular Supplement

      WASHINGTON, Jan. 7, 2000 -- A dietary supplement popular with athletes and fitness fiends is implicated in at least six deaths and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is trying to shut down suppliers of the substance.

      The substance, gamma butyrolactone, or GBL, is marketed under a number of brand names, including Blue Nitro, Firewater, Invigorate, Vitality, Insom-X and GH Revitalizer. .

      Athletes take it to aid in sleep after an intense workout. It's also thought to have muscles recover more quickly.

      The supplement is being blamed for the recent near-fatal seizure suffered by Phoenix Suns forward Tom Gugliotta. He suffered a seizure on the team bus after a game in Portland Dec. 17 and was hospitalized in serious condition.

      The Suns' team doctor said Gugliotta told him he had taken a supplement containing GBL because he had been having trouble sleeping.

      GBL is widely sold, both as a liquid and powder, at gyms and fitness centers, through the Internet and in some health-food stores.

      The FDA says the drug can cause dangerously low respiratory rates, leading to unconsciousness, coma and death. As an industrial product, the substance is used as a paint stripper.

      The FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations said that as of Dec. 16, 1999, the day before Gugliotta's seizure, it had recorded 116 arrests, 55 convictions and 38 indictments. The agency is actively scanning the Internet and searching retail shelves for the product.

      The drug's not only dangerous, there's also no proof it works, FDA scientists said. They said those selling the drug are "opportunists."

      Promoters of the drug also claim it can help with weight loss and stress reduction.

      GBL products may be labeled as containing 2(3H)-furanone dihydro, butyrolactone, gamma-butyrolactone, 4-butyrolactone, dihyro-2(3H)-furanon, 4-butanolide and tetrahydro-2-furanone.

      FDA Targets GBL drugs, blue nitro, firewater, invigorate, after deaths and seizures...
      Read lessRead more