Disney offers refunds for Baby Einstein videos

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Sarah Schmidt

American parents who feel duped by claims Baby Einstein videos were brain boosters for their infants and toddlers can now get a refund for old merchandise from the Walt Disney Co.

The company has agreed to cough up the cash through an extended DVD return policy after a lengthy campaign by a coalition of educators and parents, who complained Disney’s marketing materials implied their videos for babies under two years of age were beneficial for cognitive development.

The move to compensate some customers comes after Baby Einstein — a Walt Disney company — stopped using some claims following a complaint lodged with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

The group alleged deceptive marketing of the videos.

“Disney took the word ‘educational’ off of its website and its marketing, but we felt that parents deserved more,” child psychologist Susan Linn, co-founder of the organization, said Friday.

“Parents who bought the videos mistakenly believing they were educational can now get a refund. We believe this is an acknowledgment that baby videos are not educational,” added Linn, also an associate director of Judge Baker Children’s Center, affiliated with Harvard University.

To participate in the Disney refund, U.S customers must have purchased Baby Einstein DVDs between June 5, 2004 and Sept. 4, 2009. Customers must apply for their money back by March 4, 2010 to eligible under this short-term offer.

Linn said Disney should extend the refund to parents in Canada and beyond the borders of North America.

“Why should it just be parents in the United States. We’re hoping parents all over the world will demand the same treatment.”

The offer of $15.99 US for American customers coincided with a possible class action in the United States hanging over Disney on behalf of customers who purchased videos since June 4, 2004.

“We found a team of public-health lawyers, we found them a plaintiff, we shared our information with them and now there’s a refund,” said Linn.

A spokesperson for Baby Einstein said this is coincidental and there is no relationship between the refund campaign and the extended offer for money back on old merchandise.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under two years of age.

And a study published earlier this year concluded this was a smart policy after reviewing the findings of 78 published studies probing the effects of television on young children.

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