$30M in Fines for Scam “Created by a Teacher”

The FTC has piled on Airborne, one of the most annoying consumer scams in the market. The vitamin pill was advertised to prevent colds. And it was created by a teacher! But the FTC concluded:

…there is no competent and reliable scientific evidence to support the claims made by the defendants that Airborne tablets can prevent or reduce the risk of colds, sickness, or infection; protect against or help fight germs; reduce the severity or duration of a cold; and protect against colds, sickness, or infection in crowded places such as airplanes, offices, or schools.

If you’ve ever bought Airborne, you can collect on the settlement by visiting http://www.airbornehealthsettlement.com/.

One interesting aspect of the FTC settlement is that at least one of the agency’s five Commissioners thinks the remedy is too weak. Commissioner Rosch wrote in a dissenting statement that:

…I believe that the Order provision allowing the defendants to deplete their existing inventory of paper cartons and display trays until October 31, 2008 will continue to perpetuate misperceptions about the products’ ability to prevent or reduce colds…I also believe that the Complaint and the Order should address claims on the current packaging that assert that the product has “immune-boosting” qualities. Finally, and most importantly, it is my opinion that the only way to effectively remove these lingering misperceptions about the qualities of the Airborne Health Products would be to require the defendants to engage in corrective advertising. Therefore, I respectfully dissent.

Amen! Why let them continue to sell off their bogus products? And I wonder whether $30 million is enough to discourage this behavior? They very well could have made more than that on the unsubstantiated anti-cold claims.

Now it’s time to go after Airborne’s scam competitors, Walgreen’s Wal-Borne and Air Armor.