Wednesday, October 22, 2008

CANADIANS GET REFUND FOR VELFORM SAUNA BELT SOLD BY NORTHERN RESPONSE

Competition Bureau Stops Unproven

Claims in Weight Loss Infomercials

Consumers to Get Full Refund for Velform Sauna Belt from Northern Response International Ltd.

Toronto-based Northern Response International Ltd. will pay $400,000 in penalties and costs and offer full refunds to consumers who purchased the Velform Sauna Belt, an alleged weight-loss device. In addition, the company will broadcast corrective notices on television and will cease using unsubstantiated claims in the sale and promotion of the Velform Sauna Belt, as part of a consent agreement reached with the Competition Bureau.

The Bureau's concerns involved the sale and promotion of the product through television commercials (including infomercials), the company's Web site and Canadian retailers. The company’s commercials’ claimed the product, a waist belt, would melt away fat and cellulite, resulting in significant and effortless weight loss. The Commissioner of Competition concluded that these representations were false and misleading under the Competition Act. The claims were not based on adequate and proper testing as required.

The company relied on third-party information as to the performance of the Velform Sauna Belt without conducting its own independent testing.

"Businesses must exercise caution when making performance claims to the public that are based solely on third party information," said Andrea Rosen, Deputy Commissioner of Competition. "We will continue to challenge companies and senior management who do not properly substantiate performance claims to ensure that Canadians are not misled."

As part of the Bureau's continued cooperation with its international partners, this agreement prohibits the company from reselling the returned Velform Sauna Belts in Canada or any other jurisdiction, using unsubstantiated claims.

The consent agreement was filed with the Competition Tribunal today. A copy is available on the Tribunal Web site.

Consumers who purchased a Velform Sauna Belt can obtain a full refund. Further details are available by contacting:

Velform Sauna Belt Refund Request
150 Shorting Rd.
Scarborough, Ontario M1S 3S6
Toll Free: 1-866-547-2090 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST)

This action was taken as part of the Bureau's ongoing efforts to combat false or misleading health claims. This health initiative has been focussed to date on improving the quality and accuracy of information that is used to promote products, treatments and therapies for weight loss, diabetes and cancer.

The Competition Bureau is an independent agency that contributes to the prosperity of Canadians by protecting and promoting competitive markets and enabling informed consumer choice.


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