Photo (cc) by Tobyotter
A weight-loss supplement company that threatened to sue consumers for posting negative reviews of its product online is now facing a lawsuit of its own.
The Federal Trade Commission has filed suit against Roca Labs for using gag clause provisions against consumers to stop them from sharing their negative experiences with the company’s weight-loss product.
Advertised as the “best non-surgical alternative to all bariatric surgeries,” Roca Labs’ dietary supplements included a powdered formula and separate anti-cravings powder that the company claimed would drastically reduce users’ food intake, resulting in weight loss of up to 21 pounds in one month, and as much as 100 pounds in seven to 10 months, according to the FTC complaint.
Roca Labs also provided baseless claims that its products had a 90 percent success rate.
The powders sold for $480 for a four-month supply. The FTC said Roca Labs brought in more than $20 million from the dietary supplements since 2010.
According to the complaint, the Florida-based company’s actions harmed consumers by unfairly preventing users of the product from sharing any negative personal experiences.
Roca Labs threatened to sue customers who posted negative reviews or testimonials about the product or who voiced complaints to the Better Business Bureau. The company also said it would force those customers to pay full price for the product, which was hundreds of dollars more than the initial $480 asking price.
“Roca Labs had an adversarial relationship with the truth,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Not only did they make false or unsubstantiated weight-loss claims, they also attempted to intimidate their own customers from sharing truthful – and truly negative – reviews of their products.”
Roca Labs claims that customers who posted negative reviews were in violation of a non-disparagement provision included in the “terms and conditions” they supposedly agreed to when purchasing the products.
The FTC says Roca Labs solicited success videos from customers by offering a 50 percent discount on the purchase price of the product in exchange for a positive review.
The FTC warns consumers to talk to their doctor before beginning a weight loss product. Get tips here on how to avoid being scammed by diet product claims.
Have you ever shelled out big bucks for a product that didn’t live up to its claims? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.