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Buyer Beware: Purchasing Fat Burners and Other Supplements Online

Each month I receive hundreds of e-mails from consumers who have been bilked outof their hard earned dollars by unscrupulous supplement / fat burner manufacturers. Manufacturers who have added them to monthly recurring billingcycles without their permission. Manufacturers who don't honor their money-backguarantees, and, while providing a 1-800 number for refunds, but don't hire areal, breathing person to monitor this number. These manufacturers treat theircustomers with disdain, and in general, regard them as little more than sheepwho need to be parted from their money.

The vast number of complaints I receive involve products marketed almostextensively via...

i) radio advertisements

ii) Internet e-mail and advertising campaigns

iii) television infomercials

These products tend to be marketed by companies who do not have a regularpresence in the marketplace. These companies like to make this sound like a goodthing (i.e., "exclusive T.V. offer!", and "this product is not available in anystores, so order now!"). However, the opposite is generally the case. Why?Selling via the 'Net, T.V. or radio makes it very easy for the manufacturerto...

a) avoid accountability to the customer

b) continue to sell an inferior product to a receptive audience

To further outline the issues, let's create an example scenario with fictitiouscompanies "X" (which will sell its products in stores), and "Y" (whichsells online).

Suppose company "X" creates a new fat burner product with a full money backguarantee. They sell it in local marketplaces through well-known retailers.Suppose you come in to the retailer and purchase that new fat burner. Four weekslater, in accordance with the label guarantee, you return the empty bottle for arefund, feeling the product didn't live up to your expectations.

A quality, customer focused retailer will refund your money right away, noquestions asked (if they don't, make it clear you'll be taking your businesselsewhere). That retailer will then demand their own refund from manufacturer.

What's my point here?...

1) Inferior quality products threaten the local merchant's credibility, andtheir ability to do business with the local audience. After all, no merchant whoclaims to have your best interests at heart while flogging an inferior productcan stay in business for long.

2) It is impossible for any manufacturer to avoid accountability in the localretail market. If a product yields too many refunds, the local merchant willhave to stop selling it. That's because that merchant needs your repeatbusiness for his/her other products. If the merchant does not treat you well,s/he loses the risk of losing ALL your business. Regardless, the bottom line isthat the local retailer has to stop ordering from the manufacturer.

3) Products that generate lots of refund requests are much more work for theretailer than ones that do not. Merchants will not carry such a product forlong.

OK, now for the other side of the coin.

Suppose company "Y" creates a new fat burner (covered by a 100% money-backguarantee) and markets it via infomercials, radio ads, and the Internet. Suppose"you" purchase the product, and later try to get a refund when you find thequality of the product unsatisfactory. Here's where things get interesting...

Unlike your local merchant, who needs to keep you happy to earn your repeatbusiness, company "Y" knows it is unlikely to ever hear from you again. So itmakes it as difficult as possible to obtain a refund. Its 1-800# plays anendless loop message for 45 minutes. It's nearly impossible to get a real humanbeing to talk to.

Good luck getting your refund.

And when you buy products in this manner, often you'll get added to a recurringbilling option without your consent. In other words, you'll receive anotherbottle of the product every 30 days and your credit card will be chargedaccordingly.

Again, good luck getting your refund.

Bottom line?

Advertising and selling in this manner makes it very easy for the manufacturerto avoid the issue of accountability to the customer. And most manufacturers usecall centers, professional warehousing and drop shipping facilities to furtherisolate themselves from contact with their clients. Chances are that should youorder such a product, you won't get a company representative on the phone, but acall-center employee with performance-based incentives. Is that the sort ofcompany you'd like to do business with?

By declining to sell their products in a local retail environment, manufacturersare able to isolate themselves from the local merchants who could demand largevolumes of refunds, and threaten their business by refusing to stock alow-quality product. Additionally, it also makes it more difficult for badproduct word-of-mouth to circulate amongst consumers.


There are several recommendations I have for purchasing fat burners or any othersupplements...

1) Do not buy products advertised on TV, the radio, or the Internet unless...

a) those products CAN by purchased from a local retailer. That way, you'll havesome recourse should you be unhappy with the product. While not all companieswho advertise in this manner are deceptive or unethical, there is greaterlikelihood you will experience an issue with a merchant who advertises in thismanner and does not maintain a local presence.

b) the product is sold by a well-recognized, respectable brand company.

2) Buy only well-recognized brand names with a established history in thesupplement industry (e.g.., MuscleTech, Isatori, Champion Nutrition, BioTest,EAS, and so on). I'm not saying the major brands always create better products.I am saying, however, that their "brand" and reputation does mean something tothem, and they do recognize the value of a long term repeat customer. 9 timesout of 10, if you have a problem with a product, you can phone such amanufacturer for a refund directly.

On the other hand, products marketed online or on TV do not have a "brand". Soit does not matter what the reputation of that brand is, or how it resonateswith consumers, since the manufacturer will simply create a new one for the nextproduct.

3) Establish a relationship with a local or online merchant, and make all yourpurchases from that merchant. Trusted, valued customers can always take theircomplaints to a good merchant, who knows it is in his/her best interest to lookafter them.

In the end, losing weight is hard enough without having to worry about losingyour money, too. Your best bet is always to purchase brand name products from atrusted local retailer.

Paul Crane is the webmaster of is your "one-stop" destination for reviews of fat burners, diet supplements and prescription diet pills, bodybuilding supplements and programs, and weight loss programs.


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