The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted 3–1 to file a complaint and accept the consent agreement with LCA-Vision. They allege the company employed deceptive bait-and-switch advertising to lure customers in with promises they could get their vision corrected for as little as $250; only 6.5 percent of customers were eligible for this sale.
LCA-Vision, operating as LasikPlus and Joffe MediCenter, agreed to pay $1.25 million to settle the issue. In their 2021 annual report, the company reported $376 million in net income.
Per the FTC’s statement, LCA-Vision engaged in an ad campaign between 2015 and 2020 in which they promoted LASIK prices as low as $250. However, the FTC alleges they were cagey about the eligibility criteria, and most customers did not discover their ineligibility after an exhaustive free eye exam. Typically, LASIK costs around $2,000 per eye.
“LasikPlus lured customers in with a low-price offer that almost no one actually got, and today’s order requires the company to fix its advertising and compensate consumers for their wasted time,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Especially as costs rise, the Commission will not tolerate companies that trick people into thinking they’ll save money on products or services.”
In her dissenting statement, Commissioner Christine Wilson agreed that LCA-Vision’s marketing was deceptive. However, she felt that the free eye consultation potential customers received was still of value. As such, she argues the value they derived from said eye exam balances the injury caused by the bait-and-switch. Therefore, she argued the FTC’s action was excessive.