Nearly a quarter of a million consumers duped by the marketers of the Q-Ray "pain relief" Ionized Bracelet are being refunded more than $11 million by the Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC will be mailing 248,931 checks to consumers ripped off by QT Inc., Q-Ray Company, Bio-Metal Inc. and the companies' owner, Que Te Park, also known as Andrew Q. Park, who peddled the useless bracelet.
Consumers who purchased the Q-Ray Bracelet and filed a claim form after being contacted by the FTC will receive a share of the more than $11.8 million the companies paid in fines to the FTC, with the average refund totaling approximately $47.Park and his companies were found guilty in 2006 of defrauding consumers with false and misleading advertising claims about the Q-Ray bracelet, which was widely promoted from 2000 to 2003 for its ability to give wearers instant and considerable pain relief.
The Q-Ray Bracelet was a C-shaped metal bracelet the defendants claimed was "ionized" through a so-called secret process, imbuing it with pain-relieving properties. The bracelet was promoted nationally via 30-minute infomercials and various websites.
The ads claimed the Q-Ray worked by altering the body's positive and negative energy to naturally relieve pain from a variety of ailments, including musculoskeletal pain, sciatica, headaches and tendonitis. Duped consumes paid anywhere from $49.95 to $249.95 for the bracelets.
The FTC first targeted the Q-Ray bracelet in 2003, when it charged the Illinois-based defendants with falsely promoting the bracelet's pain-relief properties. At the time, a study by the Mayo Clinic showed the Q-Ray to be no more effective than a placebo bracelet at relieving muscular and joint pain.
The FTC also accused the defendants of failing to honor their 30-day refund policy, noting that many unsatisfied purchasers were denied refunds despite repeated requests. Consumers who saw the infomercials and then went to the website and purchased the bracelets were never given the 30-day guarantee.
In 2006, the federal district court in Chicago ruled in favor of the FTC and found the defendants managed to sell $87 million worth of the worthless bracelets from 2000 to 2003, thanks to their ubiquitous infomercials.
The court required the defendants to hand over at least $22.5 million and up to $87 million in refunds to consumers who purchased the bracelets between January 1, 2000 and June 30, 2003. A district court later reduced the minimum amount to $15.9 million, and in 2008, an appellate court upheld the district court ruling.
"The magistrate judge did not commit a clear error, or abuse his discretion, in concluding that the defendants set out to bilk unsophisticated persons who found themselves in pain from arthritis and other chronic conditions," Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote at the time, who also characterized the defendants' claims as "blather."
Judge Easterbrook also wrote, "Defendants might as well have said: Beneficent creatures from the 17th Dimension use this bracelet as a beacon to locate people who need pain relief, and whisk them off to their homeworld every night to provide help in ways unknown to our science."
Consumers who receive the checks should cash them by mid-June 2011. The FTC never requires consumers to pay money or provide information before redress checks can be cashed. Q-Ray consumers with questions should call the redress administrator, Analytics Inc., at (800) 269-0056 or visit the FTC's Q-Ray bracelet webpage.
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