The Consumer Agency is regularly contacted about the misleading marketing of natural products and food supplements, the common theme being that the consumer is promised a sample product free of charge or for the cost of delivery. At the same time however, the buyer gets tied to a chargeable contract.
The latest case regarding the marketing of natural products handled by the Consumer Agency concerns a company called Wellnutrition. The company enticed consumers to participate in a raffle and to order a free sample of a food supplement in shopping centres and during trade fairs.
Unwittingly, the consumers who filled in a form, at the same time also entered into a one-year contract and started regularly receiving chargeable products. Wellnutrition did not agree to the cancellation of the order.
Already in 2007 and 2008, the Consumer Ombudsman reminded Wellnutrition about the marketing regulations. Since the company continued the unlawful marketing and did not undertake to change its operations, the Consumer Ombudsman imposed a marketing ban on the company in April. The ban was reinforced with a conditional fine of 100,000 euros.
This is not the first time that marketing bans have been imposed on companies marketing natural products. In 2011, the Consumer Ombudsman forbade a company called Norvital AS from marketing natural products under the guise of a health survey, and in 2010, a ban was imposed on NaturaMedPharma concerning its direct marketing campaign by mail disguised as a consumer survey.
The European Consumer Centre is currently looking into a Danish company, Formlife, which has marketed the weight loss product Corex and Life Detox foot patches on Facebook.
Marketing ban for Norvital's health surveys, Consumer Agency press release on 14 April 2011
Consumer Agency forbids NaturaMed Pharma marketing campaign, Consumer Agency press release on 5 October 2010