OLYMPIA – Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna today announced settlements with operators of LA Weight Loss diet centers in Washington. The settlements resolve allegations that LA Weight Loss misrepresented program costs to get consumers to enroll, then pushed the sale of protein bars and supplements after they had signed a contract.
The state reached agreements with three businesses: LA Weight Loss Centers, Inc., and LA Weight Loss Franchise Company, both of Horsham, Penn., and NWM Inc., of Lake Oswego, Ore. Combined, they operate 19 diet centers in Washington.
The agreements filed in Thurston County Superior Court and Spokane County Superior Court require the businesses to reimburse up to $800,000 to LA Weight Loss customers who claim they were misled and who purchased certain products.
In addition, they must pay the state additional money to be used for consumer education and a total of $75,000 for attorneys’ fees and costs. The total amount paid for consumer education will be determined later.
“The Attorney General’s Office alleges that LA Weight Loss program operators misled consumers into enrolling in the program by misrepresenting its cost,” Attorney General Rob McKenna said.
“We believe that consumers were initially told the program cost only dollars a week, there were no additional costs, and they could use their own food,” he continued. “But once customers had paid hundreds of dollars to enroll, LA Weight Loss staff persistently reinforced that those customers needed to spend hundreds of dollars more on supplements and food products to successfully lose weight.”
“Weight loss programs and health clubs have an ethical and legal obligation to adequately disclose details about program costs before customers sign a contract. They should also clearly explain how the program works and what is expected so that consumers can make an informed choice whether to join,” McKenna said.
The agreements require LA Weight Loss diet centers to be consistent about indicating which products are or aren’t necessary or important.
In addition, the centers are prohibited from claiming that their supplements have any health or weight loss benefit unless they first have competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate their claims. The Attorney General alleged that there was no such evidence to back up LA Weight Loss claims that its FB500 supplement caused customers to lose weight by trapping, blocking or otherwise absorbing dietary fat.
LA Weight Loss Franchise Company is a franchisor of the weight loss program. It has one franchisee in Washington – NWM, which operates centers in Kennewick, Longview, Salmon Creek, Spokane, Spokane Valley, Vancouver and Yakima.
LA Weight Loss Centers, Inc., is a separate company that operates storefronts in Bellevue, Bellingham, Everett, Federal Way, Kent, Lacey, Lynnwood, Puyallup, Seattle, Silverdale, Tacoma and Tukwila.
The settlements do not include an admission or finding of wrongdoing.
Washington consumers who believe they were misled when they enrolled in the LA Weight Loss program since Jan. 1, 2003, have until March 21 to request a refund. Consumers may be eligible for a refund of their weight loss program costs and the purchase of LA Lites and FB500.
Refunds for Program Costs and/or LA Lites: Consumers who request a refund for program costs and/or the purchase of LA Lites must provide reasonable support for their claim of being misled. Consumers should file a written request for a refund with the LA Weight Loss business they enrolled with or the Attorney General’s Office.
Refunds for FB500: Consumers who purchased the FB500 supplement since January 1, 2003, from a location run by LA Weight Loss Center, Inc., will be sent a refund automatically. Consumers who purchased FB500 since January 1, 2003, from a location owned by NWM, Inc., should file a written request for a refund with NWM, Inc., or the Attorney General. Consumers do no need to show a reasonable basis for being misled about FB500; they just need to send a request.
Request a refund through the Attorney General’s Office: Refund requests can be made by filing a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office online or by mail.
Refund requests can be made online at www.atg.wa.gov. Click on “File a Complaint.”
Consumers can also mail a complaint form or written request to the Attorney General’s Office Consumer Resource Center in Spokane. Complaint forms can be downloaded at www.atg.wa.gov or call 1-800-551-4636 to receive a form by mail. Send completed forms to:
Attorney General’s Office
Consumer Resource Center
Re: LA Weight Loss Settlement
West 1116 Riverside
Spokane, WA 99201-1194
For more information about refund requests, call 1-800-551-4636 or 509-458-3509.