For immediate release -- Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.
Miller Sues Vision Improvement Technologies, Inc.
A.G. alleges Fairfield company cannot substantiate claims that its "See Clearly Method" improves people's vision so
much that they would no longer need glasses or contact lenses.
Attorney General Tom Miller filed a consumer
fraud lawsuit today against Vision Improvement Technologies, Inc.,
a Fairfield, Iowa, company that sells a so-called natural vision improvement
kit called the "See Clearly Method."
"We allege that the company made dramatic claims for its product that it could not substantiate," Miller said, "including
representations that consumers who used the method could quickly and easily free themselves of having to wear glasses or
The lawsuit described the "See Clearly Method" as a kit of manuals, charts, video-tapes and audio-tapes demonstrating eye
exercises and other techniques. The company allegedly sold tens of thousands of the kits for about $350 apiece.
"We allege that Vision Improvement Technologies uses a combination of misleading and unfair marketing tactics to sell
their kits," Miller said. "The alleged illegal tactics include exaggerated claims of effectiveness, false implications of
scientific validity, and misleading consumer testimonials in advertising."
The lawsuit also alleges that a so-called "risk-free" 30-day trial period is deceptively presented and ends up obligating
many consumers to pay hundreds of dollars apiece for a product that did not help them.
"Our suit asks the court to halt the unfair and deceptive practices, assess civil penalties, and provide appropriate
reimbursement for consumers," Miller said.
The suit was filed Wednesday morning in Polk County District Court in Des Moines.
Details and Background:
The lawsuit alleges that Vision Improvement Technologies (VIT) has sold the "See Clearly Method" nationwide since
2001, through radio, television, and print ads, and a web site, www.seeclearlymethod.com . Advertisements invited
consumers to call a toll-free number for a free informational video, but consumers who called were urged to order the
entire kit, which retailed for about $350, on a 30-day trial basis.
According to the lawsuit, the company has shipped out as many as 5,000 to10,000 kits a month. About half of the
consumers who received the kit returned it within the 30 days and were not obligated to make the full payment, but many
who did not return it within the 30 days still sought a refund for various reasons.
"See Clearly Method" eye exercises and "techniques" included, for example, focusing eyes using special charts or props,
facing a bright light with eyes closed at a distance of a few inches, covering eyes with hands for sustained periods, and
applying hot and cold wash cloths over closed eyes.
The lawsuit alleges that consumers have complained that they were misled about how well the "See Clearly Method"
worked, the total price they would be charged, and how easy it would be to back out of the purchase.
The suit says that VIT had set up a refund system that required consumers to phone VIT representatives and get a specially
assigned authorization number. However, the suit alleges, many consumers who tried to avoid a charge of about $350 to
their credit card complained that they tried to call in and get the special number, but were forced to spend very long periods
on hold (20 or 25 minutes or more), or left repeated messages that VIT staff never responded to.
"We allege that many consumers who sought to take advantage of the 30-day 'risk-free' trial period found that rejecting the
product was no easy matter," Miller said.
The suit noted that the company says its "See Clearly Method" is based in part on the work of William H. Bates, who
promoted similar ideas and techniques in the early 1900s. But the suit alleged that Bates's ideas have been dismissed by
mainstream eye care professionals for decades.
"It is particularly important that a company be able to substantiate that its product works when there are so many challenges
to the principles and techniques supposedly undergirding the claims," Miller said. "Iowa law requires a seller to be able to
substantiate such ambitious claims, but we allege this company could not do so."
The lawsuit also alleges:
featured testimonials from people with undisclosed connections to the
company, and ads continued using "no more glasses" testimonials, even
after the people making such claims had quit using the product and were
wearing glasses most of the time.
- The "See Clearly
Method" was claimed to have a scientific foundation, but in fact the
only study testing the Method was performed by people with an ownership
interest in the Method and was not conducted in accordance with scientific
- The company told
consumers that their names and addresses would not be shared except
for purposes considered by company doctors to be compatible with the
"See Clearly Method," but, in fact, customer lists were rented out for
unrelated marketing purposes.
- The See Clearly
Method was advertised as safe, easy, and even fun, without disclosing
that some of the primary eye exercises could produce headaches, and
did in fact produce headaches in some users.
- VIT claimed that
it received letters every day from satisfied consumers who had enjoyed
tremendous improvement in their vision, but, in fact, positive letters
were relatively scarce and were far outnumbered by letters from unhappy
- Although the See
Clearly Method was promoted as an easy and effective way to rid oneself
of glasses or contacts, a number of VIT employees and their families
continued to rely on corrective lenses, a fact which was not disclosed
to potential customers.
The suit said the "See Clearly Method" materials have sold at different prices at different times, including for $379.89
during much of 2004, and $358.95 as of April 2005. The suit noted that 575 Iowans purchased the See Clearly Method
between January 1 and August 27, 2004. About half of them apparently returned the product to the company.
Miller said: "Our fundamental allegation is that the defendants represent that the See Clearly Method is generally effective
in improving eyesight, that many or most Method users can reasonably expect to discard corrective lenses, and that the
Method is scientifically grounded. We allege these representations lack substantiation, and are false."
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