LI moms to take advantage of Baby Einstein refunds

Walt Disney Co. has announced that it

Walt Disney Co. has announced that it will offer refunds to anyone who purchased any Baby Einstein video within the past five years after research found that the videos offered no educational value and could actually slower the acquisition of words. (October 2009) (Credit: Getty Images)

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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 Co. 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."

Buyers who purchased a DVD between June 5, 2004, and Sept. 4, 2009, can choose the cash refund, a Baby Einstein book or music CD, or 25 percent off a Little Einstein product. The refund offer is explained at bit.ly/1I35r9 (Click here to connect.)and expires March 4, 2010.

This story was supplemented with reports from the Associated Press.

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