Dirty Rotten Tricks: Introduction and Overview!
In the Dirty Rotten Tricks series of videos, we reveal the most underhanded, deceptive and downright dirty tricks the nutritional supplement retailers use on you, in order to sell more products. In this introductory article, I am going to talk a little bit about the retail environment that allows this sort of behavior to flourish.
Although we will be talking mostly about weight loss and bodybuilding supplements in this video series, the underhanded tactics outlined here are by no means restricted to these sorts of products only.
By nutritional supplements, I am referring to “non-prescription” supplements derived from herbal compounds, foods, nutraceuticals, vitamins and so on–be they for weight loss, body building, energy, various specific maladies, male enhancement or whatever.
And of course, I am not suggesting ALL supplement retailers do this, or that there are not ethical companies focused on creating great products for their customers. It’s just that given the retail environment, this is an industry rife with fraudulent behavior.
So why is there such a problem with deceptive tactics in the supplement industry?
There any many reasons…
1. It’s a very loosely regulated industry.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m no fan of the regulation of supplements by government agencies who can can rarely get the simplest things right, and have a terrible record of making informed or impartial decisions. Nevertheless, in many parts of the world, retailers can get away with a lot of nonsense and don’t need to substantiate their claims with clinical proof if their product contains no pharmaceuticals. There’s often a caveat though.
For products sold in the U.S. for example, the retailer needs to post this statement somewhere on the product’s label – it’s very likely you’ve seen it…
“These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.”
What this means is that no governmental agency or regulatory body with any authority has reviewed the advertising statements to determine whether they have any basis in fact. In other words, what this really means is that what you’re reading on the label is probably just advertising; smoke and mirrors—words without substance.
Now it doesn’t take a genius to realize that such a loosely regulated retail environment is perfect breeding ground for unethical companies and charlatans.
Given that money and greed often brings out the worst in people, there do exist government agencies whose job it is to protect consumers from unethical retailers who out and out lie to consumers. These agencies do take action against many unethical retailers, but for the most part they are short staffed and overworked, and there are SO many potential violators to be investigated that most get away scot-free.
2. Penalties, when imposed, are toothless.
The second reason why there is such a problem is that even when retailers are caught using deceptive practices or making false and unsubstantiated claims, the punishment imposed by the regulatory authorities is fairly insignificant—usually a fine to provide some customer remuneration. Of course, by the time the directors of the company are caught, they’ve had plenty of time to shovel the fruits of their deceptive labors into vaults in the Cayman islands. So they plead poverty, pay a small fine, and go right back into business.
And since American government agencies can only act against products, and not the companies themselves, their actions have only the slightest effects on the companies that thrive on using deceptive marketing tactics to promote their products. As Elissa, our scientific and technical advisor says, “it’s lopping the head off a hydra; chop one off and it simply grows back again.”
There is no doubt in my mind that some companies in the nutritional supplement industry factor government fines and associated legal fees into their overall business plan – it’s just another cost of doing business.
And, since they know they’ll be targeted, they don’t even bother to tone down the marketing rhetoric, making the most outrageous claims in order to sell as much product as possible before the authorities act against them.
3. There’s a ton of money in the supplement industry.
The nutritional supplement industry brings in billions of dollars a year in revenue—and it’s growing almost daily. Money, greed and bad behavior go hand and hand, as we well know.
4. Many people have an inherent distrust of the drug companies.
Some folks are easily convinced that…
- The people selling supplements are on the side of the angels
- If it’s all natural, and more specifically “not a pharmaceutical”, it’s better, healthier, and more effective.
Unfortunately, neither of these statements is true. But that doesn’t prevent the supplement retailers from perpetuating these fallacies to fill their own bank accounts.
Having said that…
There’s no better way to demonstrate the scope of the issue than to launch into the Dirty Rotten Tricks videos, where we’ll start talking about specific tactics you need to be aware of. Let’s begin with the “Patented Ingredients” scam…