3-Minute Abs? Really? So the makers of Ab Circle Pro have agreed to pay as much as $9.3 million to settle charges of consumer fraud brought by The Federal Trade Commission (FTC). According to the FTC, in advertisements, the defendants promised that a three-minute workout on the Ab Circle Pro was the equivalent to doing 100 sit ups. In the infomercial, pitchwoman Jennifer Nicole Lee compared the Ab Circle Pro to a gym workout, saying, “You can either do 30 minutes of abs and cardio or just three minutes a day. The choice is yours.” The infomercial claimed that consumers using the Ab Circle Pro for three minutes a day would “melt inches and pounds,” and featured Ab Circle Pro users claiming they had lost as much as sixty pounds. Consumers buying through the infomercial typically paid $200 to $250 for the device, while the price for those buying from retailers varied more widely.
We’ve covered so many sketchy fitness devices over the years that when we recently mocked the Ab Circle Pro for its obvious before/after Photoshop hackery, we’d forgotten that the marketers of this device were hit with a massive settlement in 2012 for falsely claiming that it could give you rock-hard abs if you used it for only three minutes a day. Well, we’re remembering now, because the Federal Trade Commission is currently sending out $9.3 million in refunds to Ab Circle Pro owners.
According to the FTC, refunds will average $47.51 per claim, which is about 1/4 of the original retail price of the device.
While nearly 200,000 Ab Circle Pro owners registered for a refund following the settlement, that appears to only be a fraction of the total number of devices purchased. The original FTC statement on the deal stated that marketers of the product — two companies owned by Reader’s Digest Association — could have faced refunds in excess of $20 million.
Unfortunately, if you are an Ab Circle Pro owner and didn’t register for a refund, that deadline has long passed. Consumers with questions about this refund can call 1-866-402-4752.
Meanwhile, let’s once again watch the 20/20 clip where Jim Avila confronts the device’s spokesperson (and co-defendant in the FTC complaint) about how the Ab Circle Pro helped her win a bikini fitness title two years before it was ever invented.