World
US FTC Sues Weight-Loss Marketers for Blocking Bad Reviews
Complaint also asserts that company pushes deceptive weight-loss claims
 
Consumers who fail to reach their weight-loss goals with one company’s purported stomach-shrinking powders face threats of litigation and hundreds of dollars in charges if they want to share a negative review of their experience.
 
So alleges the FTC’s complaint against Roca Labs, the Florida-based marketers of a line of weight-loss products touted as a safe and cost-effective alternative to gastric bypass surgery. The complaint alleges “unfair use of non-disparagement provisions,” which are also called “gag clauses.”
 
The FTC also asserts that Roca Labs, whose sales since 2010 top $20 million, lacks scientific evidence for several of its weight-loss claims (which may explain why the company sought to shield itself from bad reviews). The complaint seeks to halt the deceptive advertising and refund customers who purchased the products, which started at $480 for a three-to-four month supply.
 
Negative posters taken to court
 
Roca Labs has done more than just threaten to sue. The company has actually taken customers to court for posting negative comments online, the FTC alleges. Not only that, the FTC claims Roca Labs has also dissuaded customers from telling us how they really feel by threatening to charge customers the “full price” of the discounted products that failed to work for them — a difference that amounts to $1,100.
The provisions were nestled in the company’s terms and conditions, to which customers must agree when ordering products. According to Roca Labs, they were intended to protect the company and its customers from the mad ramblings of “one person” that threatens to ruin the fun for everyone. The terms stated in part:
 
You agree that regardless of your personal experience with RL (Roca Labs), you will not disparage RL and/or any of its employees, products or services. … We make it clear that RL and its Regimen may not be for everyone, and in that regard, the foregoing clause is meant to prevent “one person from ruining it for everyone.”
 
But the FTC said consumers are well within their rights to truthfully criticize products. The agency wrote in its complaint:
 
By depriving prospective purchasers of this truthful, negative information, Defendants’ practices have resulted or are likely to result in consumers buying Roca Labs products they would not otherwise have bought.
 
All of which led Jessica Rich, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, to conclude that, “Roca Labs had an adversarial relationship with the truth.”
 
Find more of TINA.org’s coverage of weight-loss products here. 
 
 

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COMMENTS

Ravindra

1 year ago

In India also such or more stringent Laws should be made before products with such false claims become a big and unregulated market. These kind of products thrive because they do not fall in the category of MEDICINES and hence are outside purview of Drug Controller.

RBI bows to pressure, cuts repo rate by 50 bps to 6.75%
Markets have transmitted the RBI's past policy actions via commercial paper and corporate bonds, but the median base lending rates of banks have fallen by only about 30bps, which is just a fraction of the 75bps rate reduction during January-June, RBI Governor said
 
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Tuesday cut repo rate (the rate at which the RBI lends money to banks) by 50 basis points to 6.75% from 7.25% with immediate effect. At the same time, the central bank has made a pitch for passing the rate cut on to consumers in the form of cheaper personal and commercial credit.  The cash reserve ratio (CRR) has been kept unchanged at 4% in the fourth bi-monthly policy review by RBI.
 
In a statement, RBI Governor Dr Raghuram Rajan said, "While the Reserve Bank’s stance will continue to be accommodative, the focus of monetary action for the near term will shift to working with the Government to ensure that impediments to banks passing on the bulk of the cumulative 125 basis points cut in the policy rate are removed."
 
The rate cut is in line with the expectations from the India Inc. Industry was of the opinion that the upcoming review might be the last chance to cut rates this calendar year before inflation spirals up, also because the review comes just after the US Fed's decision not to hike its own rates due to global economic uncertainty.  "Today’s action by the RBI has removed considerable uncertainty with regard to the direction of borrowing costs faced by industry. The corporate sector will now be in a better position to drive a recovery in investment and growth," says Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII.
 
Dr Rajan also expressed displeasure over banks not passing the benefits of rate cuts to customers. He said, "Markets have transmitted the Reserve Bank’s past policy actions via commercial paper and corporate bonds, but banks have done so only to a limited extent. The median base lending rates of banks have fallen by only about 30 basis points despite extremely easy liquidity conditions. This is a fraction of the 75 basis points of the policy rate reduction during January-June, even after a passage of eight months since the first rate action by the Reserve Bank. Bank deposit rates have, however, been reduced significantly, suggesting that further transmission is possible".
 
After the announcement, State Bank of India (SBI), country’s largest commercial bank has cut its base rate by 40bps to 9.30% from 9.70% from 5 October 2015. "Overall, the policy announcement has a slew of positive surprises with the most notable being the projection of a benign inflation trajectory even throughout FY17 and reaffirmation of a continued accommodative policy. The increase in FPI limit and the reduction in SLR & HTM will counterbalance each other. The proposal to reduce the risk weights on low cost housing loans will incentivise the banks," said Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairman of SBI.
 
RBI said, in India, a tentative economic recovery is underway, but is still far from robust. In agriculture, sown area has expanded modestly from a year ago, reflecting the timely and robust onset of the monsoon in June, but the southwest monsoon is currently deficient by 14% – with production-weighted rainfall deficiency at 20%. Nevertheless, the first advance estimates indicate that food grain production is expected to be higher than last year, reflecting actions taken to contain the adverse effects of rain deficiency through timely advisories and regular monitoring of seed and fertiliser availability. Allied farm activities, which are more insulated from the monsoon, remain resilient and this could partly offset the effects of adverse weather on crop production. Rural demand, however, remains subdued as reflected in still shrinking tractor and two-wheeler sales.
 
"The onus is now on the government to remove impediments to transmission while following a prudent fiscal path, and for banks to pass on the rate cut. Plus the RBI has also set the CPI inflation target at ~5% by end 2016-17 and reiterated it at 4% by end 2017-18. Therefore, the pause from hereon could be a prolonged one unless there is a significant positive surprise on inflation, " said ratings agency CRISIL.
 
The reverse repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) will be changed to 5.75%, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the bank rate at 7.75% with immediate effect.
 
Repo Rate........................6.75%
Reverse Repo Rate..........5.75%
CRR..................................4%
Bank Rate….....................7.75%
 
Concept paper for proliferation of card acceptance infrastructure
RBI said, with growing financial inclusion, there are concerted efforts to enhance the use of technology and move towards a “less-cash” society. In order to promote electronic payments and use of cards for transactions, the Reserve Bank will put in the public domain a concept paper for proliferation of card acceptance infrastructure in the country, especially in the tier III to tier VI centres, by end-November 2015.
 
According to Bhattacharya, the decision to circulate a concept paper for increased usage of cards is a step in the right direction for a cashless society in quest for a digitised India.

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COMMENTS

Mohan Krishnan

1 year ago

Just coming back from local vegetable market. Compared to last week veg prices up almost 30%. Tuvar, Moong, Chana Dal up 40% (3 Months) Milk 40/L. Apples 120/Kg (last yr 80). RBI inventing fantasy inflation rate to please FM and to engineer a rate cut for the benefit of tiny minority.

Retirees and savers will be hard hit. Unlike US they dont have social security or Medicaid.

Gopalakrishnan T V

1 year ago

Dr Rajan has done the right thing perhaps to give a boost to the economic growth which is unfortunately remaining stagnat for more reasons other than the interest rate. But this lobby of industrialists, market operators and the politicians misses the long term sustainability of the economic growth and inflation which was being nurtured by Dr Rajan all along with his brilliance,professionalism and concern for the economy and the masses. With this recent measure of cutting the policy rates beyond the demand and market expectations he has virtually killed the depositors with whose money and support the banking system and the economy survives. The argument that the real rate of return has improved because of fall in inflation is only on paper and the common man finds it difficult to make both ends meet because of varities of taxes starting from service tax practically on all items, sales tax, income tax etc and above all corruption and other living expenses like ever increasing retail prices of essential items like rice dal oil vegetables.Fruits the common man is only able to see and come without having it is the reality. Medical expenses are beyond his survival thoughts. Every policy ignores the reality of its real impact on the common man and the present rate cut can at best reduce the housing loan by a few basis points. What he wants is an affordable house which unfortunately is not there as the real esate Mafia and builders are very strong and they keep the prices very high with or without the support of banks and black money.

Suketu Shah

1 year ago

Fm is using RBI as a tool to cure cancer with band-aid.Unless major bills are passed fast,growth wl remain retarded.

MG Warrier

1 year ago

Last week, while commenting(in a financial daily) on speculations about rate cut, I had expected a cut by 25 basis points and observed that
"That will satisfy the finance ministry with which Dr Rajan has to at least maintain the present comfort level for several reasons much beyond repo rates. By opting for such a stance, which will not have much impact on any of the economic indicators including inflation till end FY 2016, will also silence the other ‘school’ of economists for the time being. After all the impact of the earlier rate cuts aggregating 75 basis points is yet to percolate to the ground level."
The doubling of the cut puts RBI in a better position to make FM come round over certain long pending issues where RBI needs GOI help. Also the present stance of going more than half the way may put the central bank in a position to make banks listen about passing on the benefits of rate cut to borrowers.

Pulse Beat

Life after Death

 

Does human consciousness live beyond physical death? Yes, say researchers from Southampton University (United Kingdom), in a paper in the recent issue of the journal Resuscitation.
 
They conducted one of the largest ever studies of death and what happens after death. The paper says that the “the team has concluded that, while it is not known why or how, there nonetheless appears to be some consciousness and awareness for some time after physical death has occurred. That suggests consciousness and the body are intertwined in some fashion, but they may travel down a separate non-physiological path after what humans describe as death.”
 
This gives credence to the old Indian wisdom of the atman (soul) surviving death. The mind (consciousness) and the body are intertwined, though they might they go through different physiologic streams after death.
 
The research was led by Dr Sam Parnia. 
 
  • Youngsters, Be Wary of Social Media

 
Heather Cleland Woods and Holly Scott from the University of Glasgow (United Kingdom) published their data at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in Manchester.
To reach their findings, the team studied 467 teenagers, of ages 11-17 years from a single school, who were asked to complete a questionnaire. Questions around self-esteem, anxiety, depression and sleep quality were analysed. The findings revealed, for the first time, that social media has a negative effect on mental health.
 

‘Risk Factor’ is Statistical Imagination

 

The JNC8 report of the joint national committee (JNC) on the prevention, detection, evaluation and treatment of high blood pressure (BP), or hypertension, in the United States is yet to be universally followed even three years after its publication. JNC8 raised the bar for normal BP at 159/99 for adults and 140/90 for diabetics. Of course, this was not easily digested by the industry as billions of people come out of the drug net!
 
Lo and behold! The US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NIHLB) has now come out with a study that says that lowering BP even below 120/80 in the elderly is very beneficial. Almost all studies in the past, including the Cochrane database that the JNC8 based their recommendations on, were all in agreement with their recommendations. They were also aware that some feathers in the industry will be ruffled and were extra careful with their database.
 
The largest study of risk factors, after 25 years of observation of the largest ever studied American population, did show that risk factors are only statistical imaginations and do not exist in reality. Even if such risk factors are changed by drug intervention, the final risk, if any, remains just that. The research group felt that this 25-year-long study had been a boondoggle.
 
Despite all that evidence, this small study seems to weigh so heavily with the American Heart Association (AHA) and the NIHLB. The study has just come out and needs to be dissected properly to see who all got money; who benefited from this study; and where did all the funding for the study came from?
 
Epidemiology showed that the lower the BP, the better; but that was for untreated virgin BP levels. In addition, it was a linear study which, if extended too far, would show that zero BP is better than BP of 10mmHg. Are we going to believe that? To the best of my knowledge, there is no study which says that drug-treated BP levels will take away the risk, if any, of the original raised level! Interestingly, one of the mottoes of these medical organisations is ‘Truth Liberates’. What of untruths sold daily in the medical field? 

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