TINA.org wants more from Sonicare AirFloss settlement

Truthinadvertising.org (TINA) has filed a legal brief contesting a recent class-action settlement with Philips Oral Healthcare.

A class-action lawsuit was filed against Philips Oral Health Care and Philips Electronics North America Corporation in 2012 alleging that the company falsely advertised its Sonicare AirFloss as an easy replacement for floss. The $100 product "cannot actually remove plaque between teeth the same way traditional dental floss can," TINA.org stated in a press release.

In May 2013, a proposed settlement agreement was reached that consists of vouchers that the class members can use toward the purchase of another Philips product, effectively forcing them to give the company more business in order to receive any compensation from the lawsuit, according to TINA.org. The settlement does not provide any cash reimbursement to the class members, nor does it order Philips to change the way it markets the AirFloss.

In an amicus brief, the organization contends that the Philips vouchers doled out as compensation to consumers who purchased Sonicare AirFloss are inadequate. The brief states that the terms do not provide a meaningful benefit for consumers and that a cash refund would have been more appropriate.

TINA.org is taking on the larger issue of "coupon settlements," as a motivating factor since they benefit a business that has proved to be guilty of wrongdoing, the group said. Statistics show that redemption rates for settlement coupons and vouchers are extremely low.

These settlements are never a true benefit to consumers, argued Bonnie Patten, executive director of TINA.org, because consumers may not want to have to buy a product from a company that has deceived them. And, often the coupons come with stipulations that make it even more difficult and less likely consumers will redeem them.

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