InfomercialScams.com Gets Sued Constantly

Over at the Consumer Law & Policy blog there is a post about the legal troubles of Justin Leonard, the owner of InfomercialScams.com, a site that posts unedited reviews of various infomercial products.

Apparently he gets sued, like, every damn day:

First, he was sued in Florida by the infomercial company GlobalTec, which sells day-trading software. GlobalTec alleged that, by posting reviews of GlobalTec products that turned up in Google searches, Leonard was infringing the company’s trademark. With the assistance of Public Citizen, Leonard filed a motion to dismiss, pointing out that, among many other problems with the lawsuit, he lived in Arizona and had no connection with the state where he had been sued. Last month, the court accepted Public Citizen’s arguments and dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction.

Next, Leonard received a subpoena from Video Professor, an infomercial company that sells video-based courses, demanding that Leonard turn over IP addresses and other personally identifying information about everyone who posted reviews of the company’s products. Leonard objected, again with the help of Public Citizen, and yesterday Video Professor withdrew its subpoena, although it did not drop its lawsuit and is apparently still pursuing another subpoena to discover the identity of a Wikipedia user, who the company claims defamed it in the online encyclopedia.

So it came as no surprise to Leonard when he learned of yet another lawsuit against him, this time in Michigan, brought by the Infomercial company Lifestyle Lift, which performs a facelift procedure that it claims takes only about an hour.

The Public Citizen has been helping Justin out, but as the CL&P blog points out—not every small website has access to pro bono trademark lawyers. Shame on these shady companies for resorting to legal bullying.

The Hazards of Running a Consumer Review Website [CL&P]

Comments

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  1. Dead Wrestlers Society says:

    I used to always want to make salads at home, but I could never cut up those darn tomaotes. That is, until I bought the Ginsu knives.

  2. rmz says:

    I use my Ginsu knives to cut through my thick work boots, like they show you on the teevee.

  3. Bay State Darren says:

    The suits just tell me that they’re doing their objectives right. I hope thay cansee it that way too.

  4. youbastid says:

    WOW – I just went to that website and read some of the reviews. Priceless stuff. Here’s a sample:

    “ALMOST 2 1/2 MONTHES AGO I ORDERED A LESSON THE LESSON CAME BUT WHEN YOU ORDERED THIS LESSON YOU WHER SUPPOSE TO RECIEVE A DIGITAL CAMERAWITH IT HAD TO PAY FOR SHIPPING AND HANDLING I DONT KNOW WHAT HAPPENED BUT I DD NOT GET THE CAMERA.THOUGHT EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW BECAUSE I JUST SEEN IT ADVERTISED AGAIN.”

  5. Parting says:

    @youbastid: Ha! Ha! The type of consumer that makes a lot of sense :)

  6. ideagirl says:

    I love that the VP links are right at the top of the page–I hope he does that to everyone who sues him

  7. JeffM says:

    Magic Bullet and OxiClean- only things from an informercial worth buying.

  8. rkm12 says:

    I use that Web site a lot. I can point to it when someone in my family wants to order some wacky infomercial product.

  9. Bruce says:

    Ginsu knives are *AWESOME* It made a clean cut right thru a whole stack of subpoena’s without even dulling the blade! It made confetti out of those lawyer droppings in no time! The process server was impressed! Thank you Ginsu!

  10. ideagirl says:

    not only that, but after reading the consumer affais article, the VP himself sound like a real ass

  11. AlisonAshleigh says:

    OH MY LORD

    Roomba Vacuum
    Total Complaints: 6
    Report This Product
    Read Defenses

    6/27/2007 – Roger writes:
    We are now using our 2nd Rhoomba, as the 1st one the dog pushed off the landing and down two flights of stairs. It just couldn’t take the fall. Prior to this fall from grace when we had a problem we found the company to be polite and helpful almost to a fault. They sent us an easy to replace repair part at no charge in trying to diagnose a problem and then totally replaced our 1st unit when that didn’t fix the problem. In all I just wish the Rhoomba could withstand 10 foot falls and being pushed by dogs over the edge. And they advertised it as pet safe! “

  12. G-Dog says:

    I work at a TV station that broadcasts mostly infoscams. I can say this now, as I have a new job and will be quitting that god awful hell hole Thursday night.

    We sold “Hip Hop Abs” for Christ sake!

  13. SamTheGeek says:

    @AlisonAhleigh: That’s the kind of consumer that warrants a ban hammer. People just don’t understand that “pet safe” means it doesn’t harm pets, not that it isn’t damaged by them. If my dog urinates on my “pet safe” laptop, the laptop still shorts out.

  14. ancientsociety says:

    After reading the “reviews” on InfomercialScams.com, it’s kind of a wonder most of these people are able to function in daily life, let alone have the mental capacity to sit down and write said reviews.

    Sorry, had to say it…

  15. Xerloq says:

    @Sam.Nerd144: Do you own an HP or a Dell?

  16. lostalaska says:

    @ancientsociety: You gotta remember who these products are targeted toward. Maybe I’m just too much of a skeptic, but every time I see one of the mail order commercials I just laugh at how ridiculous some of there. They solve so many problems that I didn’t even know I had…

    Does tying your shoes take too long? Do you just want to put on your shoes and go? Well now you can with Velcro Laces. You can now litterly save valuable seconds a day that you can spend doing other things now like, learning a foreign language or getting your Doctorate in Astro Physics. No longer will your shoe laces keep you from being successful!

  17. rmz says:

    @JeffM: Actually, I’ve heard a lot of things about those Magic Bullets being made of really cheap parts and breaking rather easily. Who knows.

  18. Munsoned says:

    On a basic level, I appreciate the site and the owners’ attempts to educate the public about some truly awful consumer products. I am also thankful that I’ve NEVER seen a post on Consumerist that even remotely comes close to the sheer ignorance displayed in about 90% of the posts on infomercialscams.com.

    God bless them for trying to educate the masses about deceptive trade practices, being saddled with a lot of REALLY dumb contributors, and getting sued every other day for their efforts…

  19. startertan says:

    I like my Magic Bullet personally. Some fresh juice and ice and you’ve got yourself a smoothie! Never made muffins though like on the infomercial.

  20. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @ErnieMcCracken: I AM COMPLAININ ABOUT THAT AB DEAL CRUNCHR THING I BOUGT LAST MONTH. IT BROKE AND I”M STILL A FAT BSTRD.
    How’s that? Close?

  21. Narockstar says:

    I LOVE to read this site. Check out the reviews for the Sauna belt that burns people. Priceless. One woman set her house on fire with it. It’s pure shadenfreude.

  22. Munsoned says:

    @doctor_cos: YES!!! (I can still tell that it’s a fake though, too much punctuation). I can’t believe that the posters on that site even have computers that reach “that dang intertube.”

  23. warf0x0r says:

    @rmz: The other day I was in the garden cutting marble with my kitchen knife to finish the new walkway then I remembered I had to make a garden salad for dinner, I reached up and grabbed a tomato I was growing and then cut smoothly through it. Granted I had tomato all over my hands and there was marble in the sliced tomato, but it worked exactly like advertised.

    That site could benefit from a spell checker, grammar checker, and idiot checker for all its posters.

  24. meeroom says:

    The ones for the Real Estate/internet/investment scams are incredibly sad tales. Every time I’ve landed on one of those infomercials on TV, I say to myself, “Who would believe any of this nonsense?”. Well, the answer is right there in the comments. The DirectBuy ones are really a bummer too.

  25. kalmakazee says:

    @ ALISONASHLEIGH

    Thanks you for your hysterical post. I had a GREAT laugh reading what some ignorant person posted on that informercialscam.com website. Thanks for the GREAT laugh! :-)

  26. kalmakazee says:

    @ ALISONASHLEIGH
    Thank you for your hysterical post. I had a GREAT laugh reading what some ignorant person posted on that informercialscam.com website. Thanks for the GREAT laugh! :-)

    @ ERNIEMCCRACKEN

    Wonder why my comments always show up a 2nd time. Can it be because I always post it twice? lol. Stupid enough comment? lol. :-)

  27. GinaLouise says:

    I adore and love infomercialscams.com — I also use it to warn dim relatives and friends against “As Seen on TV” junk. The semi-literate posters there do depress me, though. It’s hard to believe people this dumb can switch on a computer, but at least I finally know what kind of people watch Bill O’Reilly, as evidenced by this post about a lose-weight book:

    “I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve been scammed by Kevin Trudeau’s “Natural Cures” infomercial. His books and newsletters are absolutely worthless, and there’s no way I can reach a live person to cancel my subscription. There ought to be a way to send this creep and his cronies to jail! I’d like to see Bill O’Reilly jump in his stuff and expose these scam artists for what they are!”

    Sigh.

  28. spinachdip says:

    I love my Fox Soccer Channel. Their advertisers fall under three categories:
    a) Soccer-related goods and services (Wallbangers!)
    b) Alcohol
    c) Scams – there’s a get-rich-quick scheme with a cartoon fox mascot, a hair regrowth formula with an alleged Beverly Hills stylist featuring an unexplained cameo by Gary Busey, and a discount international phone operator.

    Usually, you can tell a lot about the audience of a TV show by its commercial (daytime TV has ambulance chasers and schools that promise exciting careers in computers, football has beer and ED pills), but I kinda don’t like what FSC commercials are saying about me.

  29. drjayphd says:

    @spinachdip: And to think of the halcyon days when all Fox Soccer Channel aired were infomercials, infomercials, and infomercials. Now, they truly have the diversity of advertisers we could only imagine.

    (Although at least the Wallbangers ads were marginally better/less annoying than the Fathead ones… yeah, that didn’t last…)

  30. JeffM says:

    @rmz:
    rmz,

    You’d better believe it isn’t very high quality- but it does work well. Even as such I’d be totally buying a new one every year- I pretty much have to- my dog steals the cups out of the sink and if we don’t catch him he breaks the plastic cups with his chompers (110lb Malamute)

    New cups and new motors… I wonder if my poor grandma will get me another one for Christmas. :) When I got it last year I was thinking WTF am I going to do with this until I found it to be the ultimate tool for making fresh margaritas!

  31. solmijason says:

    I actually used to work for a sister company of GlobalTec, which is owned by Dynetech here in Orlando. I was in charge of sending out email marketing for maybe a dozen infomercial/seminar programs.

    At one point I worked with a few other people on a team to help boost the online reputation of our parent company, and namely the CEO. They were none too happy that the only positive mention of their products and so-called “institutes” (and they LOVE their institutes) were from self-produced marketing sites and the CEO’s own blog (which, by the way, had comments permanently disabled). Since the sites were developed and maintained by incompetent web designers who knew nothing of SEO (or the internet beyond IE6, for that matter), their actual presence on the interwebs was very poor.

    This led to poor sales which led to a mass-firing (nearly 20% of the company) in early 2006. I quit shortly thereafter.

    Please beware the following Dynetech subsidiaries and/or products:
    Robert Allen Institute
    J.G. Banks Institute
    American Cash Flow Association (now called GrowingWealth)
    Carleton Sheets Foundation
    Marshall Sylver
    Discovering Foreclosure Profits
    National Mortgage Institute
    Nations Foreclosure Institute
    Women in the Millionaire Zone

    Actually, you probably could have guessed they were trouble from their names.

    It wasn’t all bad though.

    FranGrowth seemed to be trying make an honest buck by developing franchises.

    Saris produced some pretty okay software, and it was free so I don’t think it’s hurting anybody.

    Anyway, there you go. I got excited when I saw something I knew a little about.

  32. SarcasticDwarf says:

    @spinachdip: I live in Milwaukee and take the bus to both school (UWM) and work. That damn get rich quick commercial involving a fox is played on the buses in Milwaukee about every 15 minutes. God is it annoying.

  33. humphrmi says:

    The scary part is that these posters are people who bought stuff from infomercials to begin with. You really only feel sorry for them like you feel sorry for a field mouse when you see it get snatched up by a hawk. On the other hand, major kudos to the guy running the site, besides probably feeling his IQ drop with every e-mail he gets from a consumer, he has to deal with all those lawsuits.

  34. Parting says:

    @G-Dog: ”Hip Hop Abs” is just a exercise DVD, nothing else. I guess it’s the most benign infomercial product.

    Those ”get rich” infomercials are much worse.

  35. jwissick says:

    I want to see the MXZ saw cut through a ginsu knife covered in Mighty Putty.

  36. jgkelley says:

    Add the vidalia onion Chop Wizard thing to the list of as-seen-on-tv kitchen products that actually functions. Hmmm, it’s not on the site, so that must be a good sign. I mean, it’s a plastic shell with a removable metal grate inside that you have to push the vegetables through yourself, it would be hard for it not to work. But take it from me that it chops onions/peppers/carrots/potatoes into uniform chunks with relative ease. Good for any cook except that the plastic piece is sometimes annoying to clean. Ok, always annoying to clean.

  37. Starfury says:

    My wife bought a set of kitchen knives from the As Seen on TV store.

    They suck. They were razor sharp at first, but after a few months of use they’re getting dull. I don’t know why she bought them in the first place.

  38. theblackdog says:

    The one product my dad bought off of TV (which was rare in itself) that actually worked Quick n Brite.

  39. m4ximusprim3 says:

    @jwissick: The paradox caused by the interaction of so many “indestructible” objects would tear a hole in space-time and our universe would blink out of existence.

    One of my secret vices is watching infomercials on the golf channel. My favorite is for a driver called “the hammer” made out of a (fabricated) material called “zolex” which is supposedly stronger and lighter than titanium and harder than diamonds or something. The best part is that the pitch-man is named jack hamm and every time he hits the driver he lets out a mighty yell:

    *plink* HUUUUUAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

  40. King of the Wild Frontier says:

    I love my Bass-O-Matic. It uses the whole bass!

  41. Parting says:

    I love shopping channel, when I can’t sleep, I just turn it on. Usually in the morning I don’t remember what I saw :)