It is amazing how far some sellers of ‘beneficial’ products will go to avoid proper testing.
The ACCC recently hooked Power Balance Australia for misleading and deceptive conduct. Power Balance make wristbands and pendants. They were claiming that:
Power Balance holograms are designed to work with your body’s natural energy field
In an undertaking to the ACCC, Power Balance Australia admitted that this and some of their other representations were misleading and deceptive, in breach of section 52 of the Australian Trade Practices Act. The full undertaking is here. The admission is at paragraph 8. Note that at paragraph 5, the reason for the breach is explained:
At the time of making the Representations, and as at the date of this Undertaking, Power Balance Australia did not and does not have:
(a) any credible scientific evidence that supports the Representations; and therefore(b) any reasonable grounds for making the Representations.
So Power Balance Australia breached Australian law and misled consumers. At paragraph 11(a) of the undertaking it agreed:
that from the date of this Undertaking coming into effect, it [Power Balance Australia] will not, in trade or commerce, in respect of the Products, make any claims to the effect that the Products:
i. will improve the user’s balance, strength and flexibility; or
ii. are ‘designed to work with the body’s natural energy field’;iii. nor, in conjunction with the Products, make claims that ‘Power Balance is Performance Technology’ or use the phrase “Performance Technology”.
Well, perhaps someone better tell the president of Power Balance LLC. A recent memo (covered here) starts:
Power Balance products work. The existing reports out there are fundamentally incorrect. Power Balance did not make any claims that our product does not perform.
Hmmm. I will let the lawyers work out if this is a breach of the undertaking. But the bit of the memo that got me is the disdain shown for any ‘double blind’ test as requested by the ACCC.
… they [the ACCC] requested Power Balance remove marketing claims until it could provide them with their narrow criteria of randomized, double-blind scientific studies that supports the use of those marketing phrases.
Sounds like standard scientific methodology to me. It is required for drug companies (to avoid incorrect positive results, for example, due to placebo effects). So why not for others making health claims, like Power Balance?
The really annoying thing here though is the disdain shown for Australian Law, consumers and scientific testing. This is reflected in the first sound byte suggested in the memo:
Power Balance products work.
Well – if that is the case, use a proper double-blind test and prove it.