Breathometer – History, Marketers resolve FTC allegations of misleading information
Breathometer is an inventor in breath analysis technology, founded by Charles Michael Yim in September 2012.
His mission is to build the world’s first portable breath analysis platform to help people make smarter decisions and improve their lives.
Breathometer develops innovative breath sensing technology combined with superior design and usability to deliver groundbreaking digital health products.
History of Breathometer
- Charles Michael Yim is an entrepreneur. His startup Chatterfly was a huge success, a mobile loyalty platform that Plum District later bought.
- After this, he found Breathometer in 2012. In 2013, Yim appeared on Shark Tank and wanted an investment of $250,000 for 10% equity but landed with an investment of $1 million for 30% equity.
- By all the five sharks, and it was the first time in the history of Shark Tank when all of them had collectively participated.
- The device was supposed to be plugged into the smartphone’s audio jack with the app to help you read the Blood Alcohol Content.
- If the BAC level is over the legal limit line, the app displays a cone- Click Call to cabs, friends, or local
- The product was not up to the mark. The Machine showed inaccurate readings due to the effect of the humidity and temperature of the surroundings.
- Due to the failure of the Breathometer, they stopped producing it, and a new product, Mint, was launched, which measures oral hydration.
- After settlement, Breathometer offered full refunds to consumers who claimed them.
Breathometer has ordered to refund purchases of its breathalyzer as part of the FTC regulation
- Breathometer, a startup that rapidly rose to prominence due to an appearance on Shark Tank, has agreed to a deal with the Federal Trade Commission.
- In which it will offer refunds for ethyl mobile-connected devices sold by the company from 2013 to 2015.
- The two products – the original and Breeze – are devices that can detect a user’s blood alcohol content (BAC) in an attempt to prevent them from driving drunk.
- The company even joined up with Uber to call users if their BAC level was too high.
- An FTC investigation found that despite Breathometer’s claims it sold “law enforcement grade breathalyzer,” a user’s BAC reading would often be disabled.
- Breathometer says it stopped selling its breathalyzer products in early 2015, ahead of the FTC complaint.
- However, the FTC says the devices were still available at some retailers until early 2016.
- In May 2016, Breathometer sent a letter to retailers and an email to registered users notifying them of device inaccuracies.
The company disabled the device feature entirely in its app
- As part of the FTC agreement, Breathometer has agreed to offer full refunds to all users who request them.
- Overall, the FTC says the Breathometer has sold $ 5.1 million of Original and Breeze devices.
- The FTC turned to Breathometer for misleading advertising claims about its effectiveness.
- CEO Charles Michael Yim blamed a “bad batch” of products that resulted from an imperfect manufacturing process.
- “We are now working with (the FTC) to make sure the claims are what they should be and to make sure our manufacturing is rock solid,” Yim told me.
- “We didn’t have a big producer, and so it didn’t match the claims we made.”
- Yim said the company is moving away from the “alcohol business” altogether and will focus on “more opportunities in health and wellness.”
Breathometer marketers resolve FTC allegations of misleading information
- Defendants must also notify and fully reimburse consumers who purchased their devices.
- “People relied on the defendant’s products to decide whether it was safe to drive,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau.
- “Overstating the accuracy of the devices was deceiving and dangerous.”
- According to the FTC complaint, Mr Yim received seed funding for his breathalyzer by successfully introducing it to investors on the Shark Tank TV show.
- The Defendants sold the breathing apparatus in two versions: Original and Breeze.
- Advertisements for both products states that their accuracy was confirmed by “quality tests in government laboratories.”
- The Breeze ad says it was “a law enforcement product.” In truth, neither Original nor Breeze has been properly tested for accuracy.
- Besides, the FTC accused the defendants of knowing that Breeze regularly underestimated BAC levels.
- However, they allegedly failed to notify users of these issues and continued to misleading advertisements.
- Original is a small device that connects to a smartphone via an audio jack, as stated in the complaint.
- The Original, sold on Defendants’ websites and other online retailers such as Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, and Brookstone, typically retails for $ 49.99.
- The Breeze is a small Bluetooth-enabled device sold from the same retailers, typically for $ 99.99.
- To use both devices, consumers downloaded the free Breathometer app to their phone and detonated the device.
- Within five seconds, it displays the estimated blood alcohol level on the consumer’s phone.
Original and Breeze had sales of $ 5.2 Million
- The order needs the company to pay full compensation to the consumers who requested it.
- Refund application forms will soon be available at www.breathometer.com (link is external).
- The Commission’s vote allowing staff to file a complaint and procedures was 3-0, with Commissioner Maureen K. Olhausen making a statement in agreement.
- The FTC has filed a complaint and order with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
- The Commission lodges a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that a law has been or has been violated.
- And the Commission believes that the litigation is in the public interest.
- The final judgments entered have the force of law upon approval and signature by the judge of the district court.
- The Federal Trade Commission is working to promote competition, protect and educate consumers
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