So this is how the Snuggie secret comes out.
The maker of the Snuggie has tricked thousands of customers, according to the Federal Trade Commission and the New York Attorney General. The accusations have nothing to do with the design of the Snuggie, which combines the grace of a T-shirt with the warmth of a blanket and is clearly flawless in both conception and execution.
Nor does it have to do with the foundational myth of the Snuggie, forged in the cutthroat sleeved-blanket market, where it bested competitors like the Slanket and the Freedom Blanket. (Though enemies were naturally made in the course of the Blanket Wars. Gary Clegg, who created the Slanket two years before the Snuggie, once dismissed the Snuggie as a “cheap knockoff” that “undermines the integrity” of his Slanket.)
No. The Snuggie’s problem has to do with the sale of the Snuggie, and a bunch of other products its parent company peddles. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said on Thursday that Snuggie parent company Allstar, which is also behind the Perfect Bacon Bowl and Magic Mesh, has agreed to pay out $7.5 million to settle allegations it duped its customers into paying more than they should have through some confusing ordering processes. It settled “without any finding that Allstar violated any laws,” the company’s statement said.
“This agreement returns money to thousands of consumers in New York and across the nation who believed they were buying items at the price advertised on television, but ended up with extra merchandise and hidden fees they didn’t bargain for,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office brought a separate complaint, said in statement.
The tiff revolves around the company’s “buy one, get one free” promotions. The commercials made it seem like a good deal, but the FTC and Schneiderman say customers were getting hit for some really high, hidden processing and handling fees, according to the complaints. Customers would think they were getting two products for “just $19.95,” but weren’t informed that a processing fee of $7.95 was tacked onto each product, meaning the end balance would soar to $35.85. Customers weren’t allowed to decline the buy-one-get-one-free.
“Defendant’s televised commercials for all its products adhere to a nearly identical script,” the complaint, filed in Northern District of Illinois, said. “The commercial, which generally are approximately two minutes in length, begin by touting the products and their features.” The Magic Mesh is illustrative of how the ploy went down, the FTC says.
“During the Magic Mesh commercial, the narrator never discloses that Allstar charges $7.95 for ‘processing and handling’ for each Magic Mesh,” said the complaint. “Nor does the Narrator disclose that it is not possible to decline the second ‘free’ Magic Mesh, meaning that the minimum ‘processing and handling’ fee that the Defendant charges is actually $15.90,” which nearly doubles the price of the entire Snuggie transaction.
Now there are of course reasonable explanations for this. Why buy one Snuggie when you can buy two?
But it got hairy for customers who didn’t want two – whomever that may be – and decided they wanted to return the Snuggie. “Defendant’s refund policy makes it virtually impossible for consumers to receive a full refund for products they never intended to purchase in the first instance,” the complaint said.
Customers got more of Allstar’s wares than they wanted. One, according to the Associated Press, only wanted two $19.95 Perfect Brownie Pans, but ended up paying $105 for six after the automated phone message confused her.
The Snuggie company has promised in a statement to mend its ways. “Allstar is pleased to have resolved this matter, and we’re proud that it resulted in a positive change for our company … and [have] set new standards for transparency.”
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