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The Federal Trade Commission has filed false and deceptive advertising charges against Your Baby Can Read!, a company that used infomercials and the Internet to promote a program claiming children as young as 9 months old can learn how to read.
Here’s how the FTC sums up the complaint…
The defendants sold the Your Baby Can Read! program to parents and grandparents of children aged three months to five years since at least January 2008, charging about $200 for each kit and taking in more than $185 million, directly via a toll-free number and their own websites. The defendants marketed the program on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, and television infomercials and ads on network and cable stations such as Lifetime, Discovery Kids, Disney DX, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon. It also was available for purchase online at Amazon.com and BabiesRUs.com, as well as, at retail stores nationwide, including Wal-Mart, Kmart, Walgreens, Buy Buy Baby, Toys “R” Us, and BJ’s Wholesale Club.
The company and former president and CEO Hugh Penton Jr. agreed to settle, to the tune of $185 million.
But while that number “equals the company’s gross sales since January 2008,” they may not end up paying it – because of “the company’s failing financial condition.” Meanwhile, the company can no longer lie about – sorry, “misrepresent” – reading ability or scientific studies. You can read the full FTC complaint to the court here.