Diet Supplement Marketers Failed to Show Proof of Effectiveness, Says FTC
The marketers of two weight loss supplements are surrendering all of their assets as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Direct Alternatives and Original Organics were charged with violating consumer protection laws for claiming their weight loss supplements were clinically proven to help people get slim without any effort.
The companies, both owned by Anthony and Staci Dill, sold more than $16 million worth of AF Plus and Final Trim weight loss supplements. The settlement between the companies, the FTC and the Maine Attorney General's Office, imposes a $16.4 million judgement, which will be suspected after the Dills surrender and liquidate all of their assets.
The complaint claims that the supplements are proven to help users lose a dramatic amount of weight without needing to diet. The companies, however, failed to provide clinical tests to back up the weight loss claims.
The company also sold the products pitching a risk-free trial offer, but the only way to avoid being charged about $80 for a minimum order of two bottles was to return one unopened bottle at their own expense prior to the end of the 30-day trial. Customers were also not refunded the initial $8 shipping charge. Many consumers were enrolled in a poorly disclosed monthly plan and had a difficult time getting refunds.
Customers who agreed to trial memberships in two buying clubs were promised $80 worth of Walmart or Target gift cards, which they never received and were then auto-billed about $25 a month for each club if they failed to cancel their memberships.
Along with the monetary settlement, the Dills are also banned from making claims about the effectiveness of any dietary supplement unless they have clinical evidence to back up the claims. They are also banned from misrepresenting other facts material to the sale of a product related to the return and cancellation policies and auto-billing subscriptions.