Thursday 6 August 2009

The Voice - Dear Consumer's Voice

This week it’s all about the offers of miraculous health benefits we see in advertisements. These things affect our health and well-being as well as our bank balances. Be warned and be careful!

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I saw an advertisement in the paper offering an “amazing business opportunity sweeping southern Africa”. It said “The planets water quality is fast deteriorating”. It mentioned a water ionizer but also offered a “strong residual ordering base” and the opportunity to become “the first distributor in your country”.

Do you think I should take this further?


I took a look at the web site of the company that is offering this and I was very suspicious. Firstly, as they say in the advertisement, none of this is free. The advert says that you have to pay them P80,000 to buy the opportunity to sell their product. Yes, eighty thousand Pula. That’s before you’ve sold a single thing.

Effectively what they are selling is a franchise operation. Of course there’s nothing inherently wrong with franchise operations. Spur, Primi Piatti and Wimpy are all franchise operations and they’re perfectly respectable. However, why would you want to pay money to join a franchise nobody has ever heard of?

Then there is the product they are selling. Their product is a “water ioniser” they call the “AquaSmarter Ionizing Capsule”. This is a lump of plastic that you put “into liquids such as water, diesel fuel, milk and juices which passes through the Specially-Designed Patented Ionizing Capsule and automatically regulates the Copper Ions (Cu++) and Silver Ions (Ag+) produced from the AquaSmarter Capsule when submerged in these various type liquids. This process is also known as Electro Galvanic Action.”

I’m not a Chemistry teacher but I do know a little about chemistry and better still I can use Google. This is all utter rubbish. There is no such thing as ionised water. No, there’s not. Look at this article on our web site and you’ll see links (1, 2, 3) showing evidence for this.

Curiously for something they claim is so miraculous, the manufacturers have a long disclaimer on their web site. I won’t quote it all but roughly speaking it says that their silly product doesn’t work and they won’t be held accountable for any promises made by anyone selling either it or the franchise operation.

So, no, please don’t waste your time or money on this.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I saw an advertisement offering herbal medicines to help me lose weight. Do you think they work?

Sorry, same answer as above.

The advertisement from Herbex Health claims that their product range is “scientifically balanced to assist effective weight loss naturally”. If you visit their web site you’ll find the usual nonsense sold by the herbal medicine industry. There’s plenty of stuff about how products from the pharmaceutical industry have side effects, how Herbex’s products are “totally natural and contain no harmful chemicals or additives” and lots of pictures of healthy, beautiful people who we can all aspire to be.

Their slimming product range offers a range of wonders including ingredients that “improve your entire digestive system”, “assist your body to burn up fats” and “develop a positive self-image”.

There is a section on their web site that reassures visitors that all of their products are safe for children, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, diabetics, people with thyroid problems, those taking anti-depressants, epileptics and most importantly, the hopelessly naïve. Their products are perfectly safe because they don’t actually DO anything, that’s why.

Please don’t waste your money on this nonsense. If you want to lose weight then the solution is actually very simple. It’s not always easy to actually do, but we all know what it is. Eat less rubbish and take more exercise. That’s always been the way people lose weight and peddlers of miracle cures haven’t come up with anything better yet.

A bit of good news.

The authorities are catching up with Consumer Watchdog and The Voice! The Director of Intelligence and Security has issued a warning to all of us about “the existence of unscrupulous individuals and companies, operated by both Batswana and foreigners, which are currently preying upon unsuspecting citizens with false promises of obtaining employment, study and/or travel opportunities outside of Botswana”.

I think he means the crooks we exposed who call themselves Transition Abroad and who a few months ago were calling themselves “ITA Work and Travel”. The ones who get you to pay them vast amounts of cash for the fake chance of a highly paid job abroad. The ones who lie, fake visas and steal money.

It goes on to say that “the Office of the Minister for Defence, Justice and Security advises the public to exercise caution in dealing with situations that promise overseas opportunities.”

Finally it encourages “the public to come forward and check the bona fide of such offers with the Directorate of Intelligence and Security, through their toll free telephone number 0-800-600-761.”

Good for them. It’s good to hear that the authorities are taking some action and taking the fight back to the crooks.

As always you can also contact us for advice on this or any other suspicious subject.

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