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January 29, 2001

Refunds Available to Consumers who Purchased Stimulator and/or Xtender Devices

Arlington, VA (SafetyAlerts) - Did you purchase a Stimulator and/or Xtender any time between May 4, 1995 and December 22, 1997? If so, the Better Business Bureau advises that you are entitled to receive your money back.

The Stimulator device, manufactured and sold through Universal Management Services and Natural Choice, was a gas grill igniter marketed as a pain relief device. An estimated 800,000 were sold to consumers nationwide between 1994 and 1997.

"Users were instructed to apply the tip of the Stimulator to so-called accupressure points on the body and press a plunger to send an electric current into the body. The companies also sold an accessory cord called the Xtender to help consumers target hard-to-reach areas of the body, such as the spine," said Ken Hunter, president of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

A judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio recently ordered the maker and distributor of the two products to begin refunding approximately $82.00 to each purchaser. According to The Honorable Solomon Oliver, Jr., the devices were sold in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) reports that this is the first case brought under the Act in which a company has been ordered to pay restitution to consumers.

Mr. Hunter said that consumer complaints about the alleged medical device led the BBB system to issue a national consumer alert in early 1997, warning consumers that neither the Stimulator nor the Xtender had been approved by the FDA and that the federal government was taking action to prohibit further sales. The BBB in Akron, Ohio reported numerous consumer complaints against the Akron-based companies marketing the products. Complaints at that time alleged non-delivery of the ordered product, non-receipt of refunds as requested, and ineffectiveness of the product.

Advertisements for the Stimulator claimed that it could relieve many kinds of pain, including migraine headaches, swollen joints, allergies, sciatica and carpal tunnel syndrome. Promotions appeared in major newspapers, magazines and TV infomercials, which featured celebrities like Evel Knievel, basketball star Bill Walton and actress Lee Merriweather.

The refund program is being administered by Gilardi & Co. of Larkspur, CA.

To obtain a refund, consumers should send a note containing their name, address, phone number, purchase price (including shipping and handling), and approximate date of purchase to:

Gilardi & Co.
P.O. Box 990
Corte Madera, CA 94977.

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