GoodTimes Entertainment and GT Merchandising & Licensing Corporation (GTM&L) have agreed to settle federal charges that they made unsubstantiated claims for the Copa Hair System and placed unauthorized charges on credit cards of some purchasers of Copa and of Richard Simmons Blast Off the Pounds products.
The Federal Trade Commission also charged the two New York City firms with violating the Commissions Mail Order Rule by failing to ship merchandise within the promised time period.
In addition to requiring payment of $100,000 in civil penalties and $200,000 in consumer redress, the settlement prohibits GoodTimes and GTM&L; from making the challenged claims for the products without adequate substantiation, and from violating the Mail Order Rule.
Copa is a popular hair-straightening product targeted primarily to African-American women and sold mainly through infomercials hosted by dancer Debbie Allen. It is also sold through the defendants Web site at www.copahair.com.
The FTC alleged that defendants GoodTimes and GTM&L; marketed Copa as having unique hair-strengthening properties. Its active ingredient, however, according to the FTC, may weaken hair while it straightens it.
Further, through the use of before and after pictures, the defendants allegedly implied that consumers would experience hair straightening with just one use. The FTC charges that, instead, multiple applications may be necessary to achieve the depicted results. In addition, the FTC alleges that the defendants did not ship the product within the promised time frames, and enrolled consumers in continuity programs without their consent.
The defendants also marketed Richard Simmons Blast Off The Pounds weight-loss program consisting of videotapes and Blast & Go Vitamins,sold via television and Internet advertising. According to the FTC, the defendants on occasion charged consumers for additional products without their consent.
The consent decree to settle the charges requires that the defendants obtain consumers consent before they are enrolled in any continuing program. It prohibits the defendants from billing or charging any consumer who has not specifically agreed to purchase the defendants products. The settlement also requires the defendants to have competent and reliable scientific evidence for any representations they make regarding the performance, benefits, or efficacy of a drug, food, cosmetic, or dietary supplement.
The consent decree prohibits the defendants from, among other things, making unsubstantiated claims regarding Copas strengthening properties and requires the defendants affirmatively to disclose, in Copa advertising using before and after pictures, the number of applications needed to produce the depicted result.