False weight loss claims lead to a $350,000 penalty
January 10, 2018 – OTTAWA, ON – Competition Bureau
Today, the Competition Bureau reached an agreement with Thane Canada Inc. (Thane) under which the company paid a $350,000 administrative monetary penalty. This resolution addresses the Bureau’s concerns over misleading representations made by a predecessor company to promote AbTronic X2 and Ab Command iX2, two electronic muscle stimulation devices. As part of the agreement, Thane cannot market the devices or similar ones in Canada for ten years.
A Bureau investigation found that claims such as “After 8 weeks I’ve lost 15 pounds and 13 inches” were leading consumers to believe that using the devices would result in weight loss as well as improved shaping and contouring of the body, without diet and exercise. The Bureau concluded that these claims were false or misleading and were not based on adequate and proper testing. The claims were also accompanied by disclaimers that directly contradicted the general impression they created.
“With the New Year upon us, getting in shape or losing weight is a top resolution for a number of Canadians. When shopping for these products or services, consumers need to be careful of false promotional claims that are not backed by adequate and proper testing. Today’s resolution demonstrates that those responsible for making false or misleading claims will face the consequences of their actions.”
Senior Deputy Commissioner of Competition
In 2002, the Bureau took action against Thane Direct Canada Inc. for making similar misleading claims.
In 2015, the Bureau launched an investigation after it became aware that Thane Direct Canada Inc., Thane’s predecessor company, was using questionable marketing practices. During the course of the investigation, Thane Direct Canada Inc. went into receivership. Following a restructuring, Thane was created and obtained the rights to market the devices in Canada.
The agreement, which is registered with the Competition Tribunal, is legally binding and will prohibit Thane from marketing these devices or similar ones in Canada for 10 years.