The state of California has filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against European Health Concepts, one of several companies promoting the supposed health benefits of magnetic mattress pads, which in fact have no proven effects on health.
The legal complaint, filed by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, demands that company promoters immediately cease their fraudulent business practices. The action comes as the direct result of a joint investigation by the California Department of Consumer Affairs and the Attorney General.
"Florida-based European Health Concepts pitched high-priced 'therapeutic' magnetic mattress pads to predominantly elderly folks at local sales seminars across California. Invitations to the 'Free Dinner' sales events were mailed to seniors, enticing them to 'Relieve Pain' and 'Get Healthy and Stay Healthy," Lockyer said.
The Department of Consumer Affairs, Attorney General and other consumer agencies have received hundreds of complaints in the last year from consumers who paid $800 or more for "discounted" magnetic pads -- from European Health Concepts and several other similar companies. Consumers had difficulty returning the pads for promised money-back guarantees.
The consumer protection action filed today by the Attorney General in Sacramento County Superior Court seeks restitution for victims, over one million dollars in civil penalties, additional penalties of $500,000 for transactions involving senior citizens, and an injunction against European Health Concepts ordering the company to cease fraudulent business practices. The action also names the company's president, Kevin Todd, and various managers and sales agents as defendants.
According to the complaint, European Health Concepts unlawfully claimed its mattresses had a positive effect on various diseases including lupus, sciatica, herniated discs, asthma, bronchitis, cataracts, chronic fatigue syndrome, colitis, diverticulitis, heart disease, and numerous other medical conditions.
The legal action also accuses the company of:
- Failing to get its mattress pads and cushions approved as new devices as required by law.
- Falsely claiming to manufacture the pads.
- Falsely stating or implying that various celebrities and sports figures had benefited from magnetic mattress pads, including actors Anthony Hopkins and Dick Van Dyke, former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, and professional golfer Jim Colbert. In fact, none of the celebrities ever used the pads, according to the complaint.
- Soliciting senior citizens for the sales seminars and then failing to give them the required three day notice of their right to cancel the contract, as required for sales made outside a company's regular business location.
- Unlawfully offering phony price discounts that were actually regular prices.
- Failing to give timely refunds to dissatisfied consumers, despite a 100% satisfaction guarantee, or failing to issue refunds until after a government agency's intervention.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned consumers to beware of any medicinal claims about the mattresses and notes that it is illegal for companies to claim any health benefits for unproven devices.
European Concepts is located in West Palm Beach, FL. Company president Kevin Todd said recently that the company has changed its marketing brochure and he believes it is now in compliance with FDA regulations.
The new version, however, still features customer testimonials about a variety of improved health conditions, such as one from a man who said, "I have also experienced relief from joint pain."
Consumers can contact the Department of Consumers Affairs at 1-800-952-5210 for assistance or visit the department's Web site: www.dca.ca.gov. Consumers can also contact the Attorney General's Public Inquiry Unit at 1-800-952-5225, or visit the Office of the Attorney General online at www.ag.ca.gov.
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