AARP Eye Center
| The government has warned Elite Hearing Centers of America to stop running ads saying people who want hearing aids are eligible for up to $3,000 in COVID-19 stimulus aid. There is no such relief available, says the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which warned that the come-ons represented “deceptive acts” that run afoul of federal law.
Elite Hearing Centers calls itself “one of the fastest growing hearing centers in the South,” with several locations in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wisconsin, its website says. Its stimulus pitches were featured in newspaper ads and on social media posts, says the FTC, a consumer-protection agency.
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FTC wants quick action
In letters Aug. 19 to two company officials, the FTC set a 48-hour deadline for them to describe what actions they took to address the agency’s concerns. The officials were also told to relay that information to Wisconsin officials.
The letters went to Joseph Crogan in Palm Coast, Florida, and Eric Movshin in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.
The announcements for the purported hearing-aid stimulus relief featured red capital letters saying, “COVID-19 HEARING HEALTHCARE STIMULUS PROGRAM.” They also showed the Great Seal of the United States and the words: “FREE HEARING AIDS” for current and retired government employees.
An attorney for Elite Hearing Centers of America says the firm ceased running the ad in question in July and has issued a timely response to the FTC.
“My client will make sure that the ad is not ever run again,” says attorney Frank Campoamor, of Naples, Florida. “My client apologizes if any statement seemed misleading as there was no intent to do so.”
This isn’t the FTC’s first action over misleading pandemic-related hearing aid ads. A previous case involved an offer too good to be true: $1,000 to help pay for hearing aids, thanks to a “Corona-virus Pandemic Hearing Aid Stimulus Package.”
But there is no such stimulus program, the FTC said in warning letters to two companies, Ear to Hear Healthcare LLC in Florida and an affiliate, Zephyr Hearing Aid Center in Missouri, telling them to immediately stop making such deceptive claims in mailers.