Mike Lindell, CEO of My Pillow, once said that “people are tired of phony advertising.” But the company found itself being accused of misleading advertising in a civil lawsuit brought earlier this year by several California consumer-protection groups. My Pillow agreed to settle the case this week and pay almost $1 million in civil penalties.
Late-night infomercials and other ads claimed that the company's pillows could cure not only insomnia but also such ailments as sleep apnea, fibromyalgia, and even multiple sclerosis.
Earlier this year, the consumer watchdog Truth in Advertising (TINA.org) warned My Pillow that it would file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission if the unsubstantiated claims continued. My Pillow scrubbed its website of any health claims, but others continued cropping up on its social media sites, TINA.org reports.
TINA.org shared its information with the California consumer groups, and last month the district attorneys of 10 counties filed a lawsuit alleging that My Pillow “knew or reasonably should have known” that the marketing claims were likely to mislead consumers.
The result was a stipulated judgment, meaning the company admitted no wrongdoing, that included $995,000 in civil penalties and a pledge to give $100,000 to homeless and domestic violence shelters in California.
“We decided to pay out rather than pay millions to prove our innocence,” Lindell told the Star Tribune in Minnesota, where the company is based.
In addition, My Pillow must stop promoting itself as the “official pillow” of the National Sleep Foundation because it failed to disclose its financial connection with the foundation to consumers.
“Companies making millions from unsupported health claims that are warned by TINA.org to halt their deceptive marketing practices are going to pay a price if they don’t comply,” said TINA.org Executive Director Bonnie Patton.
The troubles My Pillow has seen this year are enough to keep anyone up nights. In August, New York's attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, announced a $1.1 million settlement that resolved a whistleblower case against My Pillow that alleged that My Pillow knowingly failed to collect and remit sales tax on purchases made by New Yorkers over the phone or internet.
Based on the investigation, the attorney general contended that My Pillow failed to collect and remit $537,000 in New York sales taxes from 2011 to 2015. Again, My Pillow denied any wrongdoing.
Earlier this year, Consumer Reports bought three My Pillows to test and examined them inside and out. Although we did not issue any ratings, one tester described the pillow as “kind of lumpy, but comfortable.”
We also polled staffers who bought My Pillow on their own in hopes of getting a better night’s sleep. Half said the pillow helped them sleep, and one-third said it didn’t help at all.
To find the right pillow for you, read "The Best Pillow for a Good Night's Sleep."
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