HAMPTON -- Roy Neal is a rigging inspector at Northrop Grumman in Newport News. On the job, he's been recognized for helping patent products to be used in his industry.
So it's no surprise that he decided to try his hand at inventing something on his own. He came up with Germ-X, a rubber or plastic bracelet filled with hand sanitizer gel. You wear it on your arm and then press a button to dispense the sanitizing gel.
Simple and convenient.
After researching Pittsburgh company Davison and Associates and finding positive results, Neal approached the company to help him market Germ-X. The company's Website states that for over 20 years, it has "helped everyday people prepare and present their ideas to corporations, manufacturers, and retailers for possible licensing."
The company builds product ideas to into a working prototype. Neal thought it was the perfect fit.
"They told me they had products in several stores. -- Walmart, Auto Zone," says Neal.
It wasn't long before Neal began to get discouraged. After paying Davison an initial fee of about $14,000, he kept getting letters from the company asking for more money to continue work on his product.
"They said if I didn't keep sending the $325, they would end my product, they wouldn't do it anymore. So I was forced to keep paying that unless I wanted to lose all of my money," explains Neal.
The next letter he received came from the Federal Trade Commission, explaining that Neal and thousands of other consumers were actually victims of the company. The FTC sued Davison and reached a $10-million settlement. Davison was forced to repay customers. Neal has received about $1,300, far less than what he lost.
Four years later, he's still trying to collect.
"I'm actually suing them over again to try to get the rest of my money back," says Neal.
According to the FTC, Davison enticed customers with false claims on their track record in turning inventions into profitable products, in their selectivity in choosing products to promote and their relationships with manufacturers.
13News contacted Davison and Vice President of Marketing Michael Judes said the company is open to discussing a reasonable offer in the Neal case but that right now he's asking for too much money, considerably more than what he originally paid. Judes adds the company has fully observed all the requirements of the FTC agreement, stating that "Our customers get more complete information than from any other company in the industry."
The Davison website has numerous testimonials from customers who say they've had products get to market through Davison's service. Many products have been sold on the QVC network, including the Party On The Go and the Meatball Maker.
Still, Neal warns potential customers to be cautious.