Thursday, March 02, 2006

Keep it up, Smiling Bob!

If you think "male enhancement" commercials are no more than a cock-and-bull story, you've got a friend in Bellevue, Wash.

Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna (pictured at left), who lives in the Seattle suburb, on Thursday announced a multistate settlement with the maker of Enzyte, a "male enhancement" pill known for its "Smiling Bob" commercials.

McKenna was among attorneys general to reach a deal with Steve Warshak of Cincinnati, Ohio, and his dietary supplement firms Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, Lifekey Inc., Boland Naturals Inc., Warner Health Care, and Wagner Nutraceuticals, according to a prepared statement.

The states claimed Berkeley failed to inform consumers taking advantage of Enzyte's 30-day free trial that they would be automatically opted in to subsequent monthly shipments costing $39, and that the company made cancellation and refunds difficult.

Also alleged: Enzyte's maker made unsubstantiated claims about the efficacy of its product.

According to McKenna's office, Berkeley and Warshak deny the allegations but agreed to:
Stop using the word "free" in advertising unless all the terms and conditions related to the free offer are disclosed to the consumer and comply with state and federal laws.
Not make any health claims about products that they cannot support with scientific evidence.
Disclose information about any automatic shipments, memberships, refunds and guarantee procedures prior to a sale.
Record all telemarketing calls and retain them for one year.
Provide consumer restitution for all consumers who file complaints with the Attorney General’s office, the Better Business Bureau, or Berkeley within 90 days of the date of the settlement.

In its prepared statement Thursday, McKenna's office touted the settlement as a $5 million deal, but the statement laid out the actual terms as that Berkeley will pay $2.5 million to the states for investigation and litigation costs, and the penalty could be doubled through a civil fine if the company refuses to pay.

The Evergreen State's share of the settlement? $25,000.

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