FTC GOES AFTER ROCA LABS FOR
WITH THE TRUTH”
AND USE OF GAG ORDERS
Last week the Federal Trade Commission filed an enforcement action against Roca Labs, Inc. and Roca Labs Nutraceutical USA, Inc.; as marketers of a line of weight-loss supplements who allegedly made baseless claims for their products, and then threatened to enforce “gag clause” provisions against consumers to stop them from posting negative reviews and testimonials online.
WHY DID THEY GET SUED?
- “Roca Labs doesn’t have scientific support for its claims.”
- The company induced consumers to provide before-and-after videos with a “Money Back Reward or up to $1,000” – a material connection that should have been disclosed.
- Agreement included consumer gag order jacking the price from $480 to $1580 if violated.
The online terms provided::
You agree that regardless of your personal experience with RL, you will not disparage RL and/or any of its employees, products, or services. This means that you will not speak, publish, or cause to be published, print, review, blog, or otherwise write negatively about RL, or its products or employees in any way.
According to a stand-alone insert Roca Labs includes in the package:
You were given a discount off the unsubsidized price of $1580 in exchange for your agreement to promote our product and when possible share your weight loss success with us (keep those youtube videos coming). As part of this endorsement you also agree not to write any negative reviews about RLN or our products. In the event that you do not honor this agreement you may owe immediately the full price of $1,580.
The Complaint explains:
By depriving prospective purchasers of this truthful, negative information, Defendants’ practices have resulted or are likely to result in consumers buying Roca Labs products they would not otherwise have bought.
In their press conference on the complaint, the FTC explained that Roca Labs had an adversarial relationship with the truth,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Not only did they make false or unsubstantiated weight-loss claims, they also attempted to intimidate their own customers from sharing truthful – and truly negative – reviews of their products.”