Who Is Reviewing Your Weight Loss Supplements?
Before I begin, let me caution you…
You’re not going to like what you find on this page.
You may find it shocking, outrageous and downright deceitful. But one thing I need you to do right now is to commit to reading this entire article, because I can guarantee you one thing…
If you’re researching weight loss products on the Internet, you’re probably looking to some of the sources I’m going to reference in a moment for impartial, science-based reviews. You’re expecting them to tell the truth, reveal any possible conflicts of interests, and in general, look after YOU.
And when they tell you that their experts are pouring over scientific journals and using that information, along with a series of other important “ranking criteria”, to deliver you the verdict on the best and most effective fat burners on the planet, you take them at their word.
In a minute, you’ll see why in the vast majority of cases, you should not.
9 times out of 10, these “review” sites aren’t “review” sites at all; they are sales vehicles for the companies manufacturing the products they’re recommending so highly. Or, they are maintained by affiliates; people who earn commissions on referred sales. These people create “faux” review sites, for the express purpose of earning revenue.
Things were supposed to change in late 2009, when the U.S. FTC (Federal Trade Commission) issued a directive requiring that web sites that promote products for a commission reveal the nature of their relationship with the retailer. That’s correct; if you’re browsing on a U.S.-based web site, that site is obligated to reveal any conflict of interests to you.
Some web sites do (we have ours posted here, even though as a Canadian-based site we’re not obligated to), and some do not.
There’s simply no way for the FTC to be able to police the Internet effectively, and enforce these regulations. But the point is, any relationship that might constitute a conflict of interest should be revealed.
What You Need To Know About Affiliates
It may surprise you to learn that promoting products for commissions can be quite a lucrative venture. This is especially true if you’re promoting products with prices that are artificially inflated to cover the cost of an extremely generous payout some merchants offer per sale.
Take a look at the first couple of products on this page, for example (this page will open in a new window so you don’t lose your place here).
Each one of them pays a 50% commission on a sale. That’s a huge amount, and causes the product to be WAY overpriced for what it delivers. It does, on the other hand, make it easy to recruit legions of greedy partners, who are not interested in presenting you with the best products for your needs, but the ones that earn them the most money.
That’s also why you’ll see hoards of people online presenting these products as fantastic weight solutions. You won’t hear a dissenting voice anywhere.
One thing you should recognize is that it is not unethical to earn commissions on the sales of referred products, provided that referral is made in the best interest of your customers. We, for example, earn small commissions off the products we recommend to offset the cost of maintaining and updating this site. The difference is…
1. Our recommendations are made in your best interests. We tell you exactly what to expect with the product, and why we are recommending it, or why it may be “worth a try.”
2. Our recommendations don’t cost you anything. That’s correct; for the most part, the products we recommend are available to you both locally and at your favorite online retailer.
Since the price for these products is the same everywhere—online and off—it is the retailer who pays us, not you (the commission simply comes out of the retailer’s regular profit). The prices are not artificially inflated to support a huge commission as an incentive to drive sales. They can’t be—or you’d simply buy them locally, right?
That’s why the majority of faux review sites do not promote products you can find offline in your local Wal-Mart or GNC. There simply isn’t much money to be had doing so. Now, promoting Clinislim, on the other hand… that’s where the money is. The difference is, the 50% commission comes right out of YOUR pocket.
Obviously, the Internet—at least when it comes to finding credible weight loss supplement reviews—is a veritable minefield. You can pretty much hold this to be true;
What this article is going to do is reveal some of the associations between some of the popular review and customer feedback sites, and their corporate owners.
DietBlogTalk.com, SkinnyOnDiets.com, WeKnowDiets.com
These sites are all maintained by Urban Nutrition, a company which makes a number of supplements (including Miracle Burn, which just happens to be highly recommended on all 3 sites).
This company has an “A” rating with the Better Business Bureau, a rating that is not reflected on either RipOff Report or ComplaintsBoard.com, which document pages of customer complaints, mostly regarding service and / or improper billing practices.
Urban Nutrition does reveal the nature of their relationship with all three sites.
These sites are maintained by Green Brackett LLC, a company that retails a product named “Avesil” (their #1 pick, imagine!) and maintains a “C-” rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Green Brackett does reveal the nature of their relationship with the sites referenced here.
The case with Sybervision is a little different. Instead, of it being owned by a company that retails products, this is a case where two family members Steve DeVore (of SyberVision) and Garrett DeVore (of BlackStone Nutrition, Devmin Research & Development, LLC, and Garrett Devore Labs) work together.
SyberVision aggressively promotes the Devore offerings, to the extent that a lawsuit was even launched…
“…SyberVision and Blackstone Nutrition conspire to deceive consumers through Web sites that post bogus “product reviews” that defame competitors and violate trademarks…”
The press release goes on to state…
“The defendants’ Web site claim to contain unbiased and helpful consumer information. However, the ‘reviews’ are fake and the Web sites are nothing more than a marketing scheme for defendants’ competing products, which they promote on the sites.”
Two other web sites, DietPillUniverse.com and BuyTopDietPills.com seem to be recommending Garret DeVore / BlackStone Nutrition / Devmin Research products exclusively.
Neither posts the disclaimer required by the FTC (not that I can see at the time of this writing), and neither reveals anything about the true nature of who is behind the site.
WeightLossDietPills.com, BuyBestDietPills.com, Supplementing.com
These sites are maintained by ENR LLC (Experimental Nutrition Research). They claim to select the top rated weight loss pills based on 9 different criteria.
They make Thermotox, LipoClen, 72 Hour Slimming Pill, 7-DFBX, Colonetix, Clinicallix and Lipofuze (all these products are promoted on all these sites to some degree) and quite possibly other products as well, although we can’t be sure which ones.
One customer, posting on ComplaintsBoard.com says…
“They have multiple products which are the same exact products but under different names, different websites and different products. Once they are discovered for being fraudulent for one product. They just take that one out of service and change the name.”
This we can attest to; check out these two products, Clinicallix and CliniSlim. The sales pages are exactly the same, the information is exactly the same and product formulas are the exact same. Check out also, the testimonials. The first one on the Clinislim page says…
CliniSlim is like liposuction that comes in a bottle. I am losing 5-7 pounds every week and I miss it when I don’t take it. The customer service is fantastic and the product is absolutely amazing.
Justin 8/2/2009 4:20 PM
The fourth one on the Clinicallix sales page says…
Clinicallix is like liposuction in a bottle. I miss it when I don’t take it. I’m losing 5-7 pounds with each week. Your customer service is great and your product is amazing.
Yep… these people are too lazy to re-write their own testimonials. Compare some of the other ones, too. The “I’ve been a fat kid all my life” testimonial is the fifth one on the Clinicallix page (written by Ellie) and the third one on the Clinislim page (written by Jeremy).
Can you believe this?
P.S. Just in case the ENR folks happen to read this article and make changes to their testimonials and sales copy, we’ve kept the screen shots of their pages to qualify our comments.
Are there other web sites that should be included here? Contact us and let us know!