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Consumer Affairs Commissioner Polonetsky Warns Consumers: "Buying A Star Won't Make You One"

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Posted by Liza Cardona Hayes/">Liza Cardona Hayes on January 13, 2000 12:03:42 UTC

Consumer Affairs Commissioner Polonetsky Warns Consumers: "Buying A Star Won't Make You One"

Star-Naming Company Issued a Violation for Deceptive Advertising

Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jules Polonetsky today said that paying to name stars after loved ones is simply throwing money into a black hole. The Commissioner said that companies that offer to "officially" name a star fail to tell consumers that they don't have the authority to do it. The International Astronomical Union is the only recognized star-naming organization, and it does not sell names.

As a result of a Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) investigation, the agency has issued a violation against an Illinois star-naming company for engaging in a deceptive trade practice. The International Star Registry (ISR) faces maximum fines of $3,500 or more.

"Consumers whose gifts have them reaching for the stars must remember to keep their feet on the ground," said Commissioner Polonetsky. "Star-naming companies fool consumers into thinking that they can `become' a star by attaching their name to one, but in reality, the star names are nothing more than a listing in the company's own book."

"There are certain commercial and some nonprofit organizations that may offer a service to "register" a star in someone's name, generally for a fee, but these are neither sanctioned by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) nor used by professional astronomers," said Professor Helene Dickel, Chairperson of the IAU Task Group on Designations.

ISR charges $50-$100 for "new" star names which are listed in their own book entitled "Your Place in the Cosmos." Consumers who buy star names also receive a certificate declaring the "official" name of the star. "Wishing upon their `own' star can't change the fact that consumers are getting nothing more than a piece of paper in a frame," said Commissioner Polonetsky. "Other than a sidewalk in Hollywood, consumers who want their own star are better off saving their money by walking into Central Park, pointing to the sky and naming it themselves."

A DCA investigation found that while the company's advertisement implies that its star-naming registry is "official," their salespeople admitted that "NASA and astronomers are always going to continue to use a series of telescopic coordinate numbers" when questioned by DCA undercover inspectors.

Chapter 5 of Title 20 of the New York City Administrative Code prohibits false or misleading representations of a product's approval, status, or affiliation.

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