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ASA Ruling: Organo Slim / Betrim

 

 

Note: This product is a scam  Read this precautionary story!

 

“Given that the respondent not only repeats its offense of making unsubstantiated weight loss claims, but also that it appears to employ the same unfounded marketing strategy for at least two of its products, the Directorate is satisfied that an Ad Alert in terms of Clause 15.4 of the Procedural Guide is justified.”

If you see an advert for this product, is is likely contrary to the ASA ruling and we would appreciate it if you could comment at the end of this post as to where you saw the advert.

According to www.uniforum.org.za the billing address of the domain holder of organoslim.co.za is:

slim@betrim.co.za

37 Sunset Av., Llandudno, 7806

phone : +27 21 790 7556

The owner may be Johan Brittz according to the registration information.

 

 Organo Slim / A Blom / 16330
 Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
 In the matter between: Andrie Blom                                                Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
 BoundlessTrade 149 t/a Be Trim           Respondent

16 Nov 2010

http://www.asasa.org.za/ResultDetail.aspx?Ruling=5362

Mr Blom lodged a consumer complaint against a Be Trim print advertisement promoting its “Organo Slim” product. The advertisement was published in the Tyd magazine, a Rapport insert, dated 15 August 2010.

The advertisement is headed “15 Kilos in 1 Maand!!”, meaning “15 Kilos in 1 Month”. It contains, inter alia, testimonials from customers who are said to have used the advertised product. It promotes the product as fast and safe and claims that the results last forever.

Some of the claims made include “Organo-Slim is heeltemal veilig vir elke mens – selfs ‘n kind!”, which translates to “Organo-Slim is completely safe for each person – even a child!”, and “Organo-Slim se unieke anti-vet formulering verhoed die vorming van vet …”, which translates to “Organo-Slim’s unique anti-fat formulation prevents the formation of fat …”. It also refers people to the website www.organoslim.co.za for more information.

COMPLAINT

The complainant is of the opinion that the weight loss claims made in the advertisement are unsubstantiated, misleading and medically unsound.

RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE

In light of the complaint, the following clauses of the Code were identified as relevant:

• Section II, Clause 4.1 – Substantiation

• Section II, Clause 4.2.1 – Misleading claims

• Appendix E – Advertising for slimming

RESPONSE

The respondent related her personal experience in using this product, and also submitted that the advertised weight loss system is very effective and has helped countless people to lose weight.

It has gone to incredible lengths to ensure that its weight loss system is comprehensive, covering all aspects of weight loss to ensure that its customers have an effective way not to just lose weight, but to keep it off. It also detailed how the four fiber tablets taken a day expand in the stomach to make a person feel fuller, which results in less eating.

The respondent also attached the following documentation:

 

  • The before and after photographs of a “Greg Stuart” with a letter testifying that he managed to lose 5 kilograms with 2.5 weeks aided by the advertised product. Mr Stuart adds that he exercises a lot and has changed his eating habits too.
  • The before and after photographs of a “Willem Greef”.
  • An article by Stephen Laifer, titled “New Findings on Fiber”, which was published in the LE Magazine on May 2005.

 

ASA DIRECTORATE RULING

The Directorate considered the relevant documentation submitted by the respective parties.

Testimonials

The Directorate notes that the respondent has capitalised on alleged testimonials of customers who claimed to have achieved the desired results with the product. It also submitted before and after photographs of two satisfied customers in support of its claimed weight loss.

In USN / De Castro Ramos & Others / 875 (17 June 2005) where a similar issue was considered, the Directorate stated as follows:

“The claim ’Change your body in less than 12 weeks!’ (our emphasis) precedes ‘before and after’ type photos. The advertisements also carry statements such as ‘Body fat before – 20% after – 6.5% Lost 18 kg’s of body fat Gained 5.5 kg’s lean muscle’ and ‘With USN’s supplements and 4 days training a week it took Johan less than 12 weeks to achieve this result. He could not believe how easy it was’. This is likely to create an impression with the hypothetical reasonable consumer that such results are within reach. When viewed as a whole, the advertisements convey the message that the average consumer will achieve similar results. The message conveyed is essentially ’if they could do it, so can you’.”

In Herbex Weight Loss / HA Steinman / 12944 (14 July 2009) the Directorate considered a commercial where women discussed their experience with the advertiser’s product. It ruled:

“While the respondent has indicated by the attached testimonials that the depicted models achieved the advertised results, there is nothing before the Directorate to show that the product is capable of achieving such results in a statistically significant number of cases, and on the average consumer using the product.”

The Directorate is cognisant of the fact that the aim of any commercial advertisement is to convince people to buy the product or utilise the service advertised. There can be no doubt that, looking at the respondent’s advertisement as a whole, the hypothetical reasonable person would interpret it to imply that the respondent’s product can deliver similar favourable weight loss results.

The significance of this lies in the fact that the respondent is still required to prove such implied efficacy, and cannot simply assume that the testimonies themselves will adequately substantiate such claims.

Based on the above, the submitted photographs as well as testimonials are not acceptable as substantiation.

Substantiation

Clause 4.1 of Section II states that before advertising is published, advertisers shall hold in their possession documentary evidence to support all claims that are capable of objective substantiation. In addition, it stipulates that such substantiation should emanate from, or at the very least be evaluated and verified by an independent and credible expert in the field to which the claims relate.

It is trite that the ASA requires product-specific verification, which confirms that the product, when used at the recommended dose, will deliver the claimed efficacy.

The respondent relies on an article by Stephen Laifer, titled “New Findings on Fiber”, which was published in the LE Magazine on May 2005.

While the respondent submits that the research by Stephen Lifer supports the use of fibre in weight loss, the research article contains nothing that is relevant or linked to the advertised product. It is also noted that this article is now more than five years old, and the Directorate is not convinced that it can still be regarded as up to date and market-relevant.

In addition to this, the Directorate has no information as to what type of magazine “LE Magazine” is. A quick search on google returns, inter alia, results for the Life Extension Magazine”, which contains the exact article by Stephen Laifer in its archives. The Directorate notes, however, that this publication belongs to the Life Extension Foundation Buyers Club and also promotes anti-ageing and weight loss supplements. Given this, the Life Extension and Buyers Club clearly have an interest in promoting such supplements, which would hardly make it an independent authority on the subject matter.

There is currently nothing before the Directorate that verifies that the research supports the claims made in respect of the respondent’s product specifically, and as such, there is nothing to substantiate the claimed weight loss efficacy of the respondent’s Organo-Slim product.

Accordingly the advertisement is promoting the product based on unsubstantiated weight loss capabilities, which is in contravention of Clause 4.1 of Section II.

The Directorate deems it unnecessary to deal with the other cited clauses at this stage.

Given the above finding:

 

  • The advertisement must be withdrawn in its current format;
  • The process to withdraw the advertisement must be actioned with immediate effect on receipt of ruling;
  • The withdrawal of the advertisement must be completed within the deadlines stipulated by Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide; and
  • The advertisement may not be used again.

 

The complaint is upheld.

Further concerns

The Directorate notes, with some concern, that it has been dealing intermittently with the respondent since 2007. More significantly, the respondent has, in each instance, been found to be in breach of the Code and / or existing adverse rulings. The relevant rulings are:

 

  • Be-Trim / L de Weerdt / 8660 (24 May 2007) in which the respondent’s weight loss claims, under the heading “20 Kilos in 3 Weke” were found to be unsubstantiated.
  • Be-Trim / L de Weerdt / 8660 (8 April 2008) in which the respondent again placed the same advertisement as ruled against on 24 May 2007. The Directorate did not, at this stage, impose sanctions on the respondent.
  • Be-Trim / L de Weerdt / 8660 (15 September 2009) in which the respondent was again found in breach of the original ruling for continuing to make unsubstantiated weight loss claims, this time under the heading “12 Kilos in 10 Days!”
  • Be-Trim / L de Weerdt / 8860 (2 December 2009) in which the Directorate imposed a once-of pre-clearance sanction on the respondent in accordance with Clause 14.2 of the Procedural Guide. In terms of this sanction, the respondent was ordered to submit the proposed amendments, original advertisement and all previous ASA rulings to the ACA Advisory Service for pre-publication advice.

 

While technically speaking these rulings relate to what appears to be a different product, the Directorate cannot ignore the fact that the respondent is now, effectively using the same, unsubstantiated marketing campaign for a “new” product despite repeated reference to the requirements of independent and credible substantiation in all previous rulings. This indicates a deliberate attempt to circumvent the principles contained in the Code of Advertising Practice.

The Directorate also again draws the respondent’s attention to Clause 3.3 of Guideline 3 of the Code, as well as the provisions of Appendix E.

Given that the respondent not only repeats its offense of making unsubstantiated weight loss claims, but also that it appears to employ the same unfounded marketing strategy for at least two of its products, the Directorate is satisfied that an Ad Alert in terms of Clause 15.4 of the Procedural Guide is justified.

Accordingly, the Directorate will issue an Ad Alert to all its members, including newspapers and magazines to not accept advertising from the respondent for its weight loss products.

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71 comments to ASA Ruling: Organo Slim / Betrim

  • Pat

    Dear Elizabeth
    You paid an INTERNATIONAL company monies for a DIFFERENT product. Tha ASA ruling is against Organo Slim (South Africqa) BUT you were tricked by a Company wrt a product called ORGANA Slim (2 totally diffrent products) – Australian product if I am NOT mistaken but definately an overseas company. I KNOW this as I had a friend go through the SAME problem as yourself but managed after weeks 2 get her money back. Keep at your bank until you do too ia all advise I can give you!!

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you. Its not an Australian company.
    My bank has opened a case of fraud.

  • Tsholofe

    ve paid to it i will still receive it. I had given up on ever receiving the pack, until today. I received my trial pack & for some reason i decided to google the product to remind me of why i decided on this & thats when i saw all your comments. Now i’m stressed & shocked, i do not know what to do with them. Do i drink them & see what happens or i just through them away & forget about my money.

    Please advise

  • Angelique

    I fell for this scam and they have already deducted R2590.87 from my account I went to my bank and they can’t stop it can you believe that what bank can not stop them from taking money from my account again it is MY ACCOUNT! So I am very very very peed off at this moment. This is money I do not have ! Has anyone managed to get anything done about this?
    And i am changine my bank too ABSA not having me as a client any longer.

  • I stupidly ordered the trial pack – just pay postage!!! In one month they have deducted R3 372 from my account!!! How do I stop them??? I can’t believe that I have been so stupid

  • liz

    EVERYONE WHO HAS BEEN SCAMED. GET YOU BANK TO CANCLE YOUR CARD AND REISSUE WITH A NEW ONE.

  • Pat are you selling the product seeing you say its not the company?

  • Pat

    Hi Elizabeth

    NO I do NOT sell EITHER product. OrganO slim hails from SA wheras OrganA slim hails from Australia. Please read Dr. Harris’s lengthy explanation in his comment No. 18 (yours is 58). EVERYBODY is confusing the 2 products. I just got 2 know abot the two as I nearly purchased the SA version WAY BACK (as you will see) BUT my friend was caught with this on line one thus my knowledge of the two. The other scam people must be careful for is the so called secret that takes off 20 yrs of your age. Works on the same principle although I do not know where they are from. I guess also overseas.

    Hope this helps you!!

    Regards PAT

  • Tanya

    Wow, wish I saw this page before! They took me for a very expensive ride…. I ordered the Organo Cleanse and Slim electronically, which was advertised as a FREE TRIAL pack, I only had to pay the delivery costs! They since deducted a total of $598.50 off my CC – R5087.25!!! I have send them mails, but their company name changed everytime they deducted money! I also cancelled my CC to ensure that no more transactions go through. And realy, the products DO NOT WORK!!!!!

  • Judith

    Was about to read up on this product Organo-Slim and place an order, i just read the FULL PAGE AD , in “people” magazine( 19 OCT 2012 ). I decided to 1st Google it and see whats being said about it. Came across all these comments, so its still being advertised. Its being adverstised as NEW. etc etc. Address in as is Llandudno, same as the above

  • Angelique

    Add in people magazine for Be-trim – 02-11-12

  • Umbrella

    saw an advert of BE TRIM on the November 2012 issue of Living and Loving(page 119)

  • Anon

    Ad in Juig Des 2012 mag page 81

  • Jana

    Shew…I was going to get these products…thank you thank you thank you for exposing them!!! I saw this just in time!!

  • carla

    Thank you for all the information – you just saved me a bundle and stopped me from ordering Be Trim as advertised in the November 2012 Woman&Home Magazine.
    In my right mind I did think the claims were very optimistic, but even halving the weight loss would have been worth the money – IF IT WORKED! And after being “in the business” for as long as they claim on their website, one would have thought they would have certified the claims of some of their customers?!
    At least now they will get my little bit less (in their world of plenty), for this Christmas’s takings. Hope the wheel will turn for them too! If not in this life, then the next!
    Thanks again!
    ps I have sent the relevant link to Woman&Home magazine.

  • Sonja

    Thanks, I was going to buy Organo – how is it possible that they can still advertise?
    I saw the ad in the KEUR, 9 Nov. 12

  • Elna

    18 July 2013 – The latest is “Eternal-Thin” by Sandi Britzz with her 4 kids on the webpage – advertised in the latest Vrouekeur. Website identical to Easy Thin, Be Trim, Organo Slim ect.

  • Catharine

    I had the same experience in July . The fb link that led to a fake page of Womens Health – I had to cancel my credit card. But already lost R700 to these ruthless greedy sick people. May you be punished severely. Plus please just go check out they have the audacity to place an add on this very page!!! Number 64 on this page!

  • heather

    I have been scammed, I have had money taken from my account with no products. It was to be a free trial.
    I would appreciate any contact details, to follow this up and get back what it rightfully mine and not theirs
    Regards,

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