PORTLAND, Ore. >> If you purchased caffeine-infused underwear because of promises it will make you thinner, federal regulators say you were hoodwinked — but at least you can get your money back.
The Federal Trade Commission announced Monday that two companies — Norm Thompson Outfitters of Oregon and Wacoal America Inc. of New Jersey — have agreed to refund $1.5 million to consumers who purchased “shapewear” that supposedly can reduce cellulite and fat because it is infused with caffeine, vitamin E and other things.
“Caffeine-infused shapewear is the latest ‘weight-loss brew’ concocted by marketers,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “If someone says you can lose weight by wearing the clothes they are selling, steer clear.”
Neither company could be reached for comment.
Norm Thompson, based in Hillsboro, Oregon, sold women’s bike shorts, tights and leggings made of a fabric called Lytess for $49 to $79, according to the FTC’s complaint. The company claimed a woman could take 2 inches off the hips and an inch off the thighs in less than a month “without effort.”
“No diets or pills. Lose inches just by wearing these cellulite-slimming Lytess leggings,” the company said in an online catalog, according to the FTC. “The unique fabric is infused with caffeine to metabolize fat.”
The claims are not backed up by scientific tests, the FTC said. The company also falsely claimed that the garments were backed by television personality Dr. Oz.
The FTC says Wacoal, based in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, made similar claims about its iPants underwear for women, which sold for $44 to $85.
In negotiated settlements, Norm Thompson agreed to pay $230,000 and Wacoal America $1.3 million, which the FTC says it will use to provide refunds for consumers. The companies also will be prohibited from claiming that their caffeinated garments cause weight or fat loss, or a reduction of body size.
The Federal Trade Commission is accepting public comment on the proposed settlement until Oct. 29. After that, the commission will decide whether to make the proposed settlements permanent.
–Jonathan J. Cooper / Associated Press