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FTC Gives Up Effort to Write Rules for Spas

December 18, 1985|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission voted unanimously today to abandon regulations it had considered imposing on the health spa industry for a decade.

Acting Chairman Terry Calvani and Commissioners Patricia Bailey and Mary Azcuemaga voted to end the effort to regulate the nation's 6,000 spas as unnecessary.

"The commission will continue to monitor the health spa industry and to challenge, where appropriate, illegal practices," Calvani said.

Although joining in the 3-0 vote, Bailey said she believes that some type of regulation may be needed to deal with problems in this industry, including high-pressure sales tactics. She suggested the possibility of imposing bonding requirements or cooling-off periods.

Staff Recommendation

The commission acted following a staff recommendation released Tuesday that it drop its effort to regulate the industry.

"Health spas have been a continuing consumer problem in one form or another," Amanda Pedersen, acting director of the commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection, told a press briefing. "The challenge is determining what can be done."

She said the proposed regulations did not address the major problem, and, meanwhile, half the states have instituted their own regulations.

The primary consumer problem being encountered today is the closing of spas, in many cases leaving consumers with paid memberships and no place to use them or to obtain refunds.

Closings Can Be Problem

"Spa closings can be a problem," Pedersen acknowledged. "But a lot of the reasons for closing are not violations of FTC law. These can be poor management, bad location, loss of interest" or other reasons.

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