Michael Lindell is the founder of MyPillow, Inc., which had its accreditation from the Better Business Bureau revoked on January 4. The bureau specifically targeted the company’s never-ending buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO) “sale,” but MyPillow has faced plenty of controversy before.
For example, has claimed to be a “sleep expert,” but he has no training in sleep medicine. In November 2016, the company had to pay a $1 million fine for false advertising in California.
Here’s a look at Lindell, MyPillow and the BBB’s decision to revoke its accreditation.
1. The BBB Revoked Its Accreditation Over MyPillow’s Never-Ending BOGO Promotion & Said It Shouldn’t be Called a ‘Sale’
The Better Business Bureau lowered its rating of MyPillow to “F” and revoked its accreditation because of consumer complaints about the BOGO promotion. As the MyPillow website shows, customers can buy one pillow and get the second for free for $89.97. The company calls it a “special” and requires a special promo code.
However, as the BBB noted, consumers complained that the promotion never ended. While different promotional codes were advertised online and television, consumers noted that old promo codes still worked. Since the “sale” was never-ending, BBB said that MyPillow was violating its Code of Advertising.
The BBB stated that it contacted MyPillow on August 23, 2016 to tell the company about the complaints. However, the company stated that it wouldn’t end the promotion until 2016. As of January 5, though, the sale is still active on the site, as seen above. If the “sale” lasts forever, it’s no longer a limited time offer, but the product’s regular price.
Lindell sent a statement to KARE11, vowing to make changes in 2017. He wasn’t specific about what those changes would be. Here’s his full statement:
MyPillow was built on our dedication to our customers’ satisfaction. We run sales and specials for our customers, so that we can give as many people as possible the chance to have a great night’s sleep. Naturally, I am terribly disappointed by the BBB’s decision. When I started MyPillow more than 11 years ago, I handled each and every customer call personally. To this day, I train all of our customer service representatives with one thing in mind, we take care of our customers because we owe them our success. We have sold more than 25 million MyPillows, but we will continue to treat each and every customer like they are our only one. From myself and our 1,500 employees, we want to thank our loyal customers.
2. MyPillow Claimed its Pillows Could Treat & Cure Sleep Apnea, Restless Leg Syndrome & Insomnia
Lindell and his company have claimed that using MyPillow will help treat or even cure a wide variety of sleep-related disorders, including sleep apnea, insomnia and restless leg syndrome. Other claims made by the company and in customer testimonials it has shared include alleviating symptoms from migraines, anxiety, acid reflux and menopause. Lindell even dubbed himself “sleep expert” in commercials.
Beginning inFebruary 2016, Truth In Advertising (TINA) contacted the company, letting it know that it has not met the standards to prove any of these claims. MyPillow pledged to TINA that it would drop the claims. Indeed, Lindell is no longer referred to as a “sleep expert” on the site.
TINA’s complaints eventually led to a group of California County Attorneys filing a lawsuit for false advertising. In November 2016, SFGate.com reported that MyPillow agreed to pay a $1 million settlement.
The company agreed to pay $995,000 in civil penalties and make $100,000 in donations to California charities focusing on sleeping accommodations for the homeless and domestic violence victims. MyPillow was also said that it cannot make claims that the product can cure diseases in California without a human trial.
“We are pleased our restitution in this case includes giving back, which is a central part of the mission of MyPillow,” Lindell said in a statement on the settlement.
3. Lindell Fought a Cocaine Addiction & Says He Asked God to ‘Take Away My Desire’
Lindell struggled with a cocaine addiction, even after he founded MyPillow in 2004. According to a Salvation Army profile, Lindell started using cocaine in 1982 and began using crack cocaine in the late 1990s. He continued struggling with addiction through January 2009.
He told the Salvation Army that in 2008, when he was living in Minneapolis, his drug dealers held an intervention for him.
“They were three of the biggest dealers in the cities,” Lindell said. “They said I had been awake for 19 days straight. They refused to sell to me again. One of them tried babysitting me until I fell asleep.”
Just as MyPillow was gaining more attention, he realized that he needed to stop. He started praying.
“I asked God to take away my desire to do drugs. I said, ‘Take it away, and I’m all yours,'” Lindell told the Salvation Army. “The next morning, the desire was gone. Everything was gone. I woke up and felt the most peaceful I ever have.”
Lindell credits his faith with helping turn MyPillow into a success. “There were so many miracles – one-in-a-million kinds of things,” Lindell told the Salvation Army.
Lindell has been married twice and both marriages have ended in divorce. His second wife was Dallas Yocum. He had hoped to end his autobiography Against The Wind with their marriage, but he had to update it.
“Now that book is going to end with her telling me I’m boring and then there’s book two, which I’m living now. We don’t know how that’s going to turn out,” Lindell told the star Tribune.
4. Lindell Is a Big Donald Trump Supporter & Attended Trump’s New York Victory Party
Lindell supports Donald Trump and offered to send Trump a MyPillow for free when the two met in September 2016. Lindell was even invited to Trump’s election night party, which turned out to be a victory celebration.
“It was epic,” Lindell told KARE11 about the party. “The mood was like, I’ve never felt anything like it.” He also called Trump’s victory “surreal.”
“It’s going to be such an amazing difference and he’s not going to let us down,” Lindell told KARE11.
In a WRKO radio interview during the Republican National Convention in July 2016, Lindell complained about President Barack Obama’s policies, even though his company reached new heights in success during the Obama years.
“That they’re anti business anti free market agenda,” he said of Obama and Hillary Clinton in the radio interview. He later added, “We’ve gotten through it because it’s such an amazing product.”
5. MyPillow Spends $1.4 Million on Advertising a Week & Has Sold Over 18 Million Pillows
In an interview with the Boston Herald in May 2016, Lindell said that his company spends $1.4 million on its famous infomercials a week and has sold over 18 million pillows.
Without the infomercials, it’s possible that Lindell would never have found success outside of Minnesota. According to the Star-Tribune, the company’s sales were only $3 million in 2010 and it only had 60 employees. By 2012, after the successful, 30-minute infomercial debut in 2011, sales hit $102 million.
Lindell told the Star-Tribune that the infomercial was nearly all ad-libbed. “They tried to get me to use a teleprompter, but I couldn’t do it. Now it’s mostly ad-libbed,” he told the paper.
Lindell thinks that his past helps him appeal to the average consumer. In addition to his struggle with addiction, he’s been through two marriages, faced lawsuits from investors and declared bankruptcy. Before he started MyPillow, he owned a group of bars.
“It’s my past, and I’m not ashamed of it,” he told the Star-Tribune. “I haven’t had a perfect life.”