Razer to refund $1.1 million for Zephyr masks following false N95 certification claims

woman wearing Razer Zephyr mask
(Image credit: Razer)

The early days of the COVID-19 pandemic were pretty wild, and we saw multiple companies decide to create their own face masks in response to the virus. Razer was one of them, launching the Razer Zephyr face mask that promised N95 protection and RGB lighting — something nobody ever expected to go together. However, it’s now been alleged that the mask wasn’t N95 certified after all.

The Federal Trade Commission claims that Razer never submitted the Zephyr mask to the FDA or National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for official testing. Nor did it seek permission to use the term N95 in advertising for its “N95-equivalent” face mask. 

So not only does this mean the Zephyr couldn’t legally be advertised as an N95 mask, the FTC claims that Razer only stopped advertising the Zephyr as N95 following negative press and backlash from consumers.

So the FTC is making Razer refund buyers, to the tune of $1.07 million, to make up for the fact it falsely advertised the mask’s effectiveness. The FTC also wants Razer to pay a fine of $100,000 for “unsubstantiated health claims about protective health equipment” and is banning it from making “ COVID-related health misrepresentations”.

Razer has denied all wrongdoing, and has insisted it never intended to mislead anyone. But the company chose to settle the case instead of fighting it, “to avoid the distraction and disruption of litigation”. That way it can focus on what it does best — creating peripherals for gamers, likely with copious amounts of colored lights. 

So let this be a lesson to all of you. Companies are often very good at what they do, but deviating from that isn’t something you can just decide to do at the drop of a hat. It doesn’t matter whether you’re making ventilators instead of cars, or pivoting from light-up keyboards to light-up face masks. It doesn’t matter how well-intentioned the changeover may be, or whether it was a quick cash grab. If you have no expertise in a particular product then you’re better leaving it to the experts 

You can’t buy a Razer Zephyr anymore, which is probably for the best. It’s the kind of product you don’t really need to be wearing walking down the street. In fact, the only place a light-up RGB respirator mask wouldn’t look out of place is some kind of cyberpunk rave. 

And if you're in the market for an N95 mask or respirator, just do what I did and head down to the hardware store. Thankfully the days of panic buying masks are long over, and it shouldn't be too difficult to find one.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.