WASHINGTON — Makers of a weight-loss additive called Sensa will return more than $26 million to consumers to settle federal charges that the company used deceptive advertising claiming that consumers could lose weight simply by sprinkling the powder on their food.
Sensa Products promoted the powder through major retailers like Costco and GNC and with infomercials on the Home Shopping Network and other stations. The company sold a one-month supply of Sensa for $59 and urged consumers to “sprinkle, eat and lose weight.”
But Federal Trade Commission officials said Tuesday the company used bogus clinical studies and paid endorsements to rack up more than $364 million in sales between 2008 and 2012.
The government’s settlement with California-based Sensa is part of a broader crackdown on four companies peddling weight-loss products including food additives, skin creams and dietary supplements.
The FTC also will collect $7.3 million from LeanSpa, a company that promotes acai berry and “colon cleanse” weight- loss supplements through fake news websites. Also swept up in Tuesday’s action are skin cream maker L’Occitane and HCG Diet Direct, which sells unproven hormones for weight loss. The companies will together return about $34 million to consumers to settle the federal charges. — AP
SEOUL, South Korea — Quarterly earnings at Samsung Electronics Co. fell for the first time in two years as sales of smartphones and tablets slowed in developed countries.
The South Korean company Tuesday estimated an operating profit of $7.8 billion for the final three months of 2013, a 6 percent decline over a year earlier. The result was lower than forecast by analysts and an 18 percent drop from the third quarter. Sales rose 5 percent to $55.4 billion.
Since the last quarter of 2011, Samsung’s operating income had increased every quarter. The fourth-quarter performance shows that explosive growth in Samsung’s lucrative mobile device business has come to a halt.
Analysts said Samsung’s profit fell because its businesses supplying advanced displays and chips for iPhones and Galaxy smartphones posted smaller profit. They said Samsung’s smartphone business making Galaxy smartphones and Galaxy Gear smart watches was not as lucrative as before because of higher marketing costs. — AP
BlackBerry Ltd., which struggled to entice customers with touch-screen models last year, plans to return its focus to keyboard-equipped phones under Chief Executive Officer John Chen.
“I personally love the keyboards,” Chen said Monday at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In the future, the company’s phones will “predominantly” have physical keyboards, he said, rather than touch screens.
Chen, who took the CEO job in November, is trying to rebuild the company after last year’s BlackBerry 10 touch-screen lineup fizzled with consumers — contributing to billions of dollars of write-downs. As part of his comeback plan, BlackBerry is refocusing on the corporate and government customers that fueled its early success. Those users preferred real keyboards because they made it easier to hammer out emails. — Bloomberg News