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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Important Consumer Alert: Baby Einstein DVDs Might Not Make Kids Smarter

Disney, which makes the Baby Einstein series of children’s DVDs, has “set the record straight” with an announcement that it does not advertise the videos as “educational.” Consumer rights groups had accused the company of deceptive advertising because there is no proof that the videos make kids smarter.  The company is actually offering a refund to buyers who purchased a DVD between June 5, 2004, and Sept. 4, 2009.  Here’s the story from Newsday

Beth Kichel and Lisa Kobel are expecting a Baby Einstein windfall - between them the Long Island moms own half a dozen of the DVDs, and the Walt Disney Co. is now refunding $15.99 per video.

A throw-down between The Baby Einstein Company and a Boston child advocacy group has resulted in the bonus for consumers.

"The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood" has been fighting the Einstein division of Disney for years, saying the company's advertising was "deceptive." The advocacy group's position: There's no proof watching the videos, which feature classical music and art for babies and toddlers, makes a child any smarter.

Baby Einstein countered by posting a "set the record straight" announcement on its Web site, saying it doesn't advertise the videos as "educational," and that it has expanded its refund policy, not because it's guilty, but as a show of confidence in the product and to end the fight. "We decided it to leave it up to those consumers," wrote general manager Susan McLain.

Kichel and Kobel are among the consumers ready to cash in. Kichel got her tapes when her daughter, Tali, now 2, was born. "I tried to make her watch them, having heard the hype about how intellectually stimulating they are for the newborns," said Kichel, who lives in Bellmore. "She had no interest in them. I will look for them now to return and get the refund."

Kobel, who lives in Huntington and has a 22-month-old named Jillian, echoed Kichel as the moms played with their children at the indoor playground Once Upon a Treetop in Plainview. "I didn't buy them thinking, 'Oh, it's going to make her smarter,' " Kobel said. "They're a little boring."

[Meredith R. Miller]

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