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Disney’s Baby Einstein refunds sparks war of words

Disney-owned Baby Einstein is offering refunds to parents who have bought its DVDs in the US amid a war of words over the claims made by the DVDs, which are aimed at babies and toddlers. It will refund the value of four DVDs, without proof of purchase, from now until March 2010. Parents can also exchange Baby Einstein, Baby Mozart, Baby Shakespeare or Baby Galileo DVDS for book or CD products.

The extended refund has sparked a war of words between Baby Einstein and its opponents.

Boston-based action group Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC) claimed the refund as a victory in its fight against marketing of products to children. It said: “The refund offer is a wonderful victory for families and anyone who cares about children.  Recent research shows that screen time is not educational for babies. Now parents who purchased Baby Einstein DVDs, mistakenly believing the videos would make their babies smarter, can recoup their money.”

The CCFC has been lobbying against Baby Einstein for several years. Last year the group’s co-founder Susan Linn told TBIvision:” When it comes to babies and TV, TV is as best superfluous and at worst harmful. What we are concerned about is that the Federal Trade Commission has never held Disney publicly accountable for fake and damaging marketing that has done a lot of damage. People do believe [the content] is educational, that is the most important reason they put their children in front of the screen.”

Baby Einstein founder Susan McLain issued a statement that said Linn’s dislike for Baby Einstein has ‘turned into a sensational, headline-grabbing publicity campaign that seeks to twist and spin a simple, customer satisfaction action into a false admission of guilt’.

The statement continued: “We strongly believe that, unlike Linn, our consumers find value in our product, and rather than continue to fight with her, we decided it to leave it up to those consumers. That is why we extended a refund policy that was already in place.”

Disney bought Baby Einstein for a reported US$25 million in 2001. The extended refund is currently only available in the US.