SEATTLE - A Redmond company whose "Learning Machine" allegedly enabled users to learn foreign lan guages overnight, has agreed to pay $320,000 in consumer refunds and legal costs to local, state and federal enforcement agencies.
Dane Spotts, the owner and president of Zygon International, Inc., has signed consent decrees with the attorneys general of Washington, Pennsylvania, Texas and Illinois, the district attorney of Napa County, California, and the Federal Trade Commission.
The Washington lawsuit against Zygon was filed last December after 240 consumers from 36 states and Mexico complained that the company failed to deliver on promised refunds within 30 to 60 days. Most of the com plaints involved frustrated consumers who returned their machines because they did not work, or had broken or missing parts.
Among the complaints cited in Washington's lawsuit, 23 are from Washington residents, 23 also from California and 15 from New York, as well as a few each from an additional 33 states and Mexico.
The other jurisdictions' lawsuits allege the machine does not work and is being sold as a medical device without approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Zygon did not admit any wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement.
The Learning Machine was advertised in Zygon's catalogs, which are distributed nationally, as inducing "al tered mind-states" by emitting a "unique combination of light and sound that stimulates the mind to match the wave frequency of the program." The company also claimed the machine can be used as a "virtual fantasy computer". Compact disks for the various programs are sold separately.
The firm's advertisements, which have appeared frequently in national publications and on local and national TV and radio, guarantee satisfaction with the device, which sells for about $300 by mail. It is not sold in any retail stores either in Washington or the rest of the country.
A total of $195,000 has been set aside for customer refunds. Any Zygon customer who complied with the company's refund policy, but has not received a refund for merchandise returned should call 1-800-320-9105 or write: Zygon Refund Center, c/o Gilardi & Company, PO Box 8060, San Rafael, CA 94912-8060, by July 1, 1996. The FTC is administering the national refund program.
Zygon also will pay $25,000 each to Washington, the other states and Napa County to cover legal costs and fees.
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Contact:David Horn, Assistant Attorney General
Janice Marich, Public Affairs