Every now and then, I do something a bit daft. And a couple of months ago was one such occasion.
I’m nobody’s fool, but in hindsight, I got unintentionally sucked into something. So I’m going to tell you about it hoping that the same thing doesn’t happen to you.
Prepare yourselves for a moan-a-thon. It’s gonna be a long one.
As you know, my level of physical activity has temporarily plummeted somewhat recently. And, consequently, I have gained 4 pounds.
Not earth-shattering, granted. But four pounds nonetheless.
So, I decided to transform the situation into a valuable research opportunity, with the intention of reporting back to all of you.
Raspberry ketones. The fat-busting natural remedy that oodles of red carpet-ready celebs are talking about right now. I can almost guarantee you that Gwynnie has a bottle stashed in her bathroom cabinet.
Apparently, they work by boosting the body’s ability to regulate the key fat-burning hormone adiponectin. And they boost your metabolism too.
Given that this was a natural remedy, I decided to give it a whirl. But which to buy?
And then, as if by magic, an ad popped up on my Facebook page for this very product. (NB I am, in reality, more than aware that magic has nothing to do with it).
Advanced Slim Raspberry Ketones: trial offer
There they were: A company called Advanced Slim Raspberry Ketones, offering a half-size bottle as part of a “trial offer”. All I had to do was pay the postage. This simply said to me that they must be pretty confident about their product’s efficiency.
So I paid my £4.95 postage, and sat back and waited for the order to plop on to my doormat.
Ten days to two weeks later, plop it did.
But then I looked at the ingredients: the capsules contained gelatin. So no good for me.
Bugger, I thought, that’s a fiver up the Swanee. But I did chastise myself for not asking the question first. Not that I could have, as there was no “contact us” option on the landing page I had been directed to.
And then things get strange…
The honeymoon is over
A month later, some more raspberry ketones from the same company – this time a full sized 30 capsules – sailed through my letterbox.
Odd, I thought. I didn’t order any more.
This is what it said on the accompanying paperwork:
“We offer a programme cancellation option within 14 days from when you place your order. If you do not cancel within this time frame via our Customer Support Team on UK FREEPHONE 0800 955 2005, you’ll be billed £85 for the first full-sized bottle you receive. Every 30 days, you’ll also be sent and billed for a new bottle of Advanced Slim Raspberry Ketones so that you can continue your fat-burning programme easily, with out product delivered directly to your door.”
I call aforementioned “customer support” to find out what exactly is going on here. I said I wanted to return the product – with tamper-evident seal still intact – in order to get a full refund. They put the phone down on me twice, but at some point they did manage to tell me that I would not be charged or sent any further products.
They also said they had sent an email confirming this, but I never got it. Likewise, I was told that they had sent me an email confirmation at the time of my original order, but I never received that, either.
However, it was “not their policy” to have goods returned. Nor to give refunds.
I ring the bank and block all future payments. I also end up in a three-way telephone conversation with the bank, myself and a representative of “Advanced Slim Raspberry Ketones”, which also goes under the name of HEALTHBOOST.
“Why won’t you let me simply return the supplements to you? It’s obvious that they haven’t been opened.”
“That is not our policy. You have 14 days to cancel from the date of your original order.”
“How can I realistically do that when I was unaware that this was a monthly order subscription? Plus, it took so long for my so-called “trial offer” to get to me that the two weeks were almost up by then, anyway. And surely the only way I would know if I wanted to cancel my order would be after I had actually sampled the product for a reasonable period of time?”
“This is all in our terms and conditions. And we cannot accept returns because we have experienced contamination in unopened bottles returned to us in the past.”
“That is nonsense. And even if that were true, if they hadn’t been opened since they were bottled by your company, that surely suggests they were contaminated to start off with?”
His answers were unhelpful, to say the least. So he asked me to write an email outlining the reasons for my complaint.
So, write I did. And in my best “you’re-not-going-to-win-this-one-you-a***holes” tone.
Misleading buying process
In my email, I explained that their buying process was extremely (and probably intentionally) misleading.
If it’s not a secret that once you go for the “trial offer” that you are signing up for £85 of supplements per month ‘til kingdom come, why not plaster this declaration across the website? Nowhere on the sign-up page is there ANY mention of this.
The only reference to terms and conditions that I could see was a link just above the big red button when you go to pay. And, quite obviously, they bank on the fact that nobody reads them.
(Apparently, some company’s Ts&Cs are longer than some of Shakespeare’s plays. And if you read all the ones you agreed to over a lifetime, it would take 7 years of solid reading to get through them all).
What are the actual capsule coatings made of?
I also queried the absence on the full-size, £85 bottle of the ingredients of the capsule coatings – the gelatin reference was mysteriously missing from the second bottle I received. The label didn’t offer any information on the contents of the tablets’ coating, just what was inside.
It can’t get any worse, right?
But get this!
Inferior product for almost SIX TIMES the price!
Realising that I couldn’t use the supplements sent to me because of the gelatin content, I went and bought the nearest veggie-cap equivalent at a health shop. So I did a simple comparison exercise:
I found 60 capsules containing 400mg raspberry ketones IN EACH CAPSULE for £14.95, with no gelatin or magnesium stearate, or indeed any fillers. Yet the Advanced Slim Raspberry Ketones product contained only 30 capsules, with 200mg of fillers (brown rice flour), and only 50mg of raspberry ketone, for £85!!!
Magnesium stearate: an ingredient you really DON’T want
As for the inclusion of magnesium stearate, if you’re not sure why this is bad news, take a look at this:
The response I received was as poor as the products they are peddling. No comment was offered in relation to my observations about the inferior quality of the product, the query over gelatin content, or the use of magnesium stearate.
The only thing they could fall back on overall was the weary line “it’s in our terms and conditions.”
Fair dues. Kinda. I should have read them. But I take an extremely dim view of businesses which insist on hiding bombshells in their small print. At the very least, it’s poor business practice.
As a “goodwill gesture”, reader, I have been refunded half of my money.
Back at the ranch, those extra four pounds stubbornly maintain their vice-like grip on my arse, and the only thing thinner around here is my bloody wallet.
So, in short, don’t do what I did. And give the company called “Advanced Slim Raspberry Ketones” or “HEALTHBOOST” (on your bank statement) an extremely wide berth.