The most trusted and popular consumer complaints website
Explore your opportunities! Create an account or Sign In

Forever Living Products / illegal sales practices and training

1 United States Review updated:

In August 2014 I was a direct seller/independent business owner for Forever Living Products UK when I first discovered the methods I was using for selling and promoting FLP products were illegal. I contacted UK Head Office for compliance support but my requests were ignored. It forced me to cease trading rather than continue to act illegally. As shown below, it has been confirmed these were illegal practices by Direct Selling Association (DSA) and Advertising Standards Agency (ASA). Warwick Trading Standards are also currently investigating the company.

Citizens Advice Bureau strongly advised me to report FLP to the authorities after it was clear FLP were refusing to answer my queries. CAB said the complaints were too serious to be overlooked as they affect a large number of people.

The following evidence consists of exact quotations from independent adjudications. I have done it this way so there can be no claim this complaint is not based on solid facts. These quotations can be proven accurate.

[Direct Quotes from] Direct Selling Association Adjudication, UK. Concluded 12 February 2015

“Health Claims

Such claims are now subject to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, which came into force on 1st July 2007. This EU Regulation applies directly in all EU states, including the UK.

The Regulation defines a “health claim” as follows:
‘health claim’ means any claim that states, suggests or implies that a relationship exists between a food category, a food or one of its constituents and health;

The complainant drew my attention to an FLP company document entitled “New distributor’s quick guide to being compliant” and in particular to the second of the seven points within it:
“Talk to customers about the health benefits of the products but don’t write them down in any form of advertising on or offline, this would be a claim”.

This is very bad advice. Taken on its own, it undoubtedly encourages distributors to make (spoken) health claims when selling to consumers. It reads as though its author believed that it is only written and not spoken health claims which must not be made to customers. That, however, is not the case.

The complainant points to the use by other distributors of flash cards which do make illegal health claims. It seems likely that that some FLP distributors are making illegal health claims about FLP food products to potential customers (and suggesting to their downlines that they do likewise). Indeed they are contrary to the terms of the uplines’ distributor contracts and to the company policy. My recommendation is that the Company takes urgent steps to stamp this out, including:
(i) issuing instructions/reminders to FLP distributors not to indulge in such practices; and
(ii) ensuring that those instructions make clear that the ban on health claims applies to spoken health claims just as much as to written ones.
The complainant states that distributors cannot describe the products as they are described in corporate training and also comply with what company sanctions: (Clause 6.16, 6.18 and 6.22 of Company Policy).

6.16) Company products do not have a medicinal license. It is illegal therefore to make any representation about company products that include medicinal claims. This means that company products must not be presented as being suitable for treating or preventing disease in human beings or animals, for example, “Shown to be effective on arthritis”. Nor should Company Products be presented as being capable of correcting or modifying normal physiological functions in human beings or animals for example: “increases metabolic rate”

6.18) Distributors must act with integrity ensuring that they never use misleading, deceptive or unfair sales practices.

6.22) Distributors must be aware that products should only be used in ways recommended by the company. If a distributor recommends a product for use, not sanctioned by the company, and this results in the customer seeking redress from through litigation, the company would not indemnify that Distributor i.e. they would be personally liable. Distributors are therefore advised against this practice.

The complainant says: “There is no alternative training that is offered or ways to talk about products to customers which do not contain medical claims so what other option is there?” I do not know whether it is true that no other way to sell or promote the products is given. Even if it is true however, the absence of suggestions of ways to sell without making health claims is sin of omission. Whilst an absence of positive examples capable of being followed, might mark out the training as of poor quality, it does not amount to encouragement to a distributor to flout the terms of his contract by making health claims when selling products to consumers.” [END OF DIRECT QUOTES]

[MY COMMENTS] The above adjudication was concluded 12 February 2015. One thing that was overlooked was that FLP’s UK Chief Executive Bob Parker should have been a “positive example capable of being followed,” instead he made personal suggestion to me I make health claims when selling products to consumers. He did this on the phone when I asked him how he would speak to customers in a compliant way. He gave example of what he would say to someone he met in the pub suffering from mobility issues, recommending Forever Freedom as something that would help (small £28 drink product). When I pointed out this was also a health claim he refused to offer any further suggestions or explain how else the high prices for products could be justified. This is an example of “sin of omission” by the company. I have my doubts this has changed. More than 7 months after this adjudication ended, in September 2015, I allowed FLP to preview this complaint. They said regarding the illegal practices they were urgently told to “stamp out”, “these were merely some recommendations for FLP to consider implementing” – email from Stuart Kennedy, FLP Complaints and Compliance Team Leader).

[Direct quotes from] Advertising Standards Agency investigation A15–303817 Regarding Health Claims by Company and use of Individual Health Professionals – dated 8 July 2015 online

“Five YouTube videos for a company, Forever Living Products, that sold aloe vera based drinks and nutritional supplements:

A) The first video featured Dr Atherton who stated that Aloe Vera “contains painkillers and anti-inflammatory components so if people are suffering from painful conditions, especially those that are inflammatory based like arthritis, would benefit from aloe. It has also a long-chain sugar or polysaccharide which is known to affect the immune system […] so people suffering with disorders of the immune system, two examples being psoriasis and ulcerative colitis, often get benefit as well {it also helps with irritable bowel syndrome […]

B) The second video featured a live presentation by the athlete, David Pickles, who discussed the benefits of a sports drink called “ARGI+”. One of the presentation slides stated “what can Argi+ do for you?” […] Helps reduce cholesterol levels [sic]”

C) The third video featured a live presentation by Dr Peter Atherton discussing the benefits of a supplement called “Artic Sea” and stated that “It can help towards lowering blood fat […] So we also have a product that will help us not to get a stroke and tends to help the heart rhythm stay regular […]

D) The forth video featured an interview with Dr Sylvia Chukwuemeka who stated, “I was a hospital doctor for ten years before I came across Forever and I had quite a number of health challenges, so I was in a worse state than my patients actually. Out of desperation I tried the Forever Aloe Vera gel […] I wasn’t really expecting it to work, but I was absolutely blown away by the results and from a medical point of view I was seriously, seriously impressed and I knew there was something really special within the products […]

E) The fifth video featured an interview with Dorne Parker, a nutritionist, who stated “Forever Lite Ultra with Aminotein shakes are the most nutritionally balanced meal replacement shakes you can buy. It’s very safe, it’s natural, it’s delicious and it promotes lean muscle and unlike other shakes on the market it contains a good natural source of protein which is essential for optimum nutrition and it uniquely contains aminotein which is group of amino acids which help to break down the proteins in the body […]”

Issue

The complainant challenged the following claims, which were subject to Regulation (EC) 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods (the EU Regulations), as reflected in the CAP Code:

1) Aloe vera “contains painkillers and anti-inflammatory components so if people are suffering from painful conditions, especially that are inflammatory based like arthritis, would benefit from aloe. It has also a long-chain sugar or polysaccharide which is known to affect the immune system […] so people suffering with disorders of the immune system, two examples being psoriasis and ulcerative colitis, often get benefit as well {it also helps with irritable bowel syndrome […]

2) ARGI+ “Helps reduce cholesterol levels [sic]” and that the supplement product Arctic Sea “can help towards lowering blood fat” and “that [it] will perhaps help us not to get a stroke and tends to help the heart rhythm stay regular”, which were reduction of risk claims that had to be registered on the EU register.

3) The complainant further challenged whether ads (a), (c), (d) and (e) breached the Code, because it made health claims that referred to the recommendations of health professionals.
Investigated under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 15.6, 15.6.2, and 15.6.3 (Food, food supplements and associated health and nutrition claims).
CAP Code (Edition 12)

15.6. The following are not acceptable in marketing communications for products within the remit of this section: […]
15.6.2. Claims that state or imply a food prevents, treats or cures human disease. Reduction-of disease-risk claims are only acceptable if authorised by the European Commission
15.6.3. Health claims that refer to the recommendation of an individual health professional. Health claims that refer to the recommendation of an association are acceptable only if that association is a health-related charity or a national representative body of medicine, nutrition or dietetics. (END OF QUOTES)

Reference to the complaint can be found at: https://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications.aspx?SearchTerms=forever%20living%2... />

[MY COMMENTS] Forever Living Products offered no defence to the above ASA investigation. All five illegal videos were removed from FLP’s YouTube channel. Because FLP co-operated without defence ASA resolved this case informally.

It begs the question, if Forever are aware the legislation prohibits “recommendation of an individual health professional” and it is indefensible to employ health professionals including (Experienced GP) Peter Atherton, (Vet) David Urch and (Nutritionist) Dorne Parker to teach health benefits, why is this “Advisory Board” used to teach Health Claims at HQ trainings? They recommend in those trainings the efficacy of FLP products for a multitude of health issues with humans and animals. They also offered free distributor consultations advising on end consumer’s health issues. Like many I paid for these trainings and received the consultation advice, before I understood it could not be used legally.

Summary and Desirable Resolution

I first raised these legal complaints with the company in September 2014. They repeatedly refused to give any formal response until terminating me in November. I had written to Head Office in America, the Compliance Department in UK and the Advisory Board’s panel of experts. In each instance these concerns were ignored and no support was offered. I did eventually have verbal conversations with Bob Parker (Chief Executive UK, Ireland and Iceland), in these he verbally acknowledged the validity of my complaints, but would only give me the following options 1) resign voluntarily (scrapping my existing business) 2) carry on regardless (turn a blind eye) “like the many professional, intelligent people who have looked carefully at the business and established very successful FLP businesses.” He confirmed FLP’s owners in America had been consulted regarding my complaint and these were the only options they were offering. I did not accept these as a resolution and was forcibly terminated 7 November 2014 by letter from Bob Parker.

Since that time, Forever Living Products UK have tripled in size and claim to be world number one for sales and growth (out of 150+ countries). The best assumption is, they discriminated against me and are currently providing distributors legally compliant instruction/support. If this is the case, FLP should acknowledge I was unfairly discriminated against and fair compensation should be offered.

Forever Living Product’s response when previewing this complaint in September 2015 was: “We request that you refrain from publishing your Complaint online or in any other medium. The statements in your complaint will cause a reader of your complaint to consider FLP to be dishonest and untrustworthy and to form a very low impression of FLP, its products and business. This will cause damage to FLP’s reputation and business” – Stuart Kennedy, FLP Complaints and Compliance Team Leader. (END OF QUOTE)

This response contained no apology or acknowledgement of unfair treatment. When I challenged them, FLP were unable to highlight a single untrue quotation or statement within my above complaint. All quotations can be proven and my statements supported by correspondence. Since everyone has right to be well-informed and fairly treated by such companies I now make these facts available. Perhaps it will help the issues get properly addressed.

FLP Whistle-blower

Fl
Oct 2, 2015
Sort by: UpDate | Rating

Comments

  • Ma
      5th of Oct, 2015
    +1 Votes

    Didn't know this, thank you!

  • Am
      26th of Feb, 2016
    +3 Votes

    You experience confirms my own experience of this MLM company; that they will say anything they can get away with in order to sell product. They pay lip service to their own rules and those of the country they market in. They are not trustworthy. Well done in pursuing this matter.

  • Bo
      26th of Feb, 2016
    +2 Votes

    Your experience is horrendous, I am sorry you went through that. Thanks for sharing your experience to try and warn others about what is going on. This has caught the attention of the people on a Mumsnet thread who are fighting against MLMs. You would be most welcome to come and share your experiences with us. http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/legal_money_matters/2578946-Cant-Stop-Wont-Stop-MLM-Botwatch-10-Now-Featuring-MLMers-who-dont-answer-questions-jokes-posts-by-eyes-questions-about-Forever-Living-Ariix-Younique-Jamberry-etc-as-scambralamas?pg=1&order=

  • Hz
      26th of Feb, 2016
    +3 Votes

    To the writer of this article, I would be very interested in speaking to you further about this matter. I cannot go into the reasons on here but if you email henryzachrobinson at yahoo (dot) com I'll be happy to explain in more detail and provide my credentials. Feel free to use an anonymous email to respond if you have any concerns over identifying yourself at this stage.

  • Li
      19th of Jun, 2016
    0 Votes

    With regards to compliance, you are so very right. I wondered why all of a sudden there was so much focus on compliant Facebook posting and not making health claims. The emphasis is totally on recruitment in this company, not product. It's all smoke and mirrors. I too bought the £199 starter kit but left when I realised how unethical the whole thing was. Glad you're out now x

  • No
      15th of May, 2017
    0 Votes

    I had issues with this company around two years ago when I bought a diet plan from one of their salespeople I knew which was £100 (way too expensive).About the time I bought it, I contacted this individual a few times to discuss issues such as possible side-effects and a refund if I was not satisfied with the product, but she ignored my phone calls and later sent a brusque and something threatening text message that brought a third party in, more or less making it clear she was fed-up of my calls and implied that she would cause trouble if I didn't stop enquiring.This was totally unacceptable as I could not walk into a shop and discuss such matters, only phone, text or e-mail.It was very obvious that once she got my money, she wasn't bothered about any other matter pertaining to the product, the only aspect she gave was rather feebly directing me to a Facebook group.It was atrocious customer service, and I complained to FLP explaining my concerns and asked for a refund.
    Unsurprisingly, they patronisinsingly fobbed off my complaints, another being that this salesperson did not tell me about my rights and money back guarantee, which they dubiously explained she was not legally obliged to inform me about.I did not believe this nonsense for a second, and forwarded on my concerns to Warwickshire Trading Standards, who rather dissapointingly had little to say about my concerns and just replied with a bland, PR-riddled statement.
    Still, after what has been said here, I may get back to WTS and ask for their opinions further from this adjudication from the ASA, in which I hope they will forward relevant conclusions from their investigations into this company.

  • Ra
      27th of Feb, 2018
    0 Votes

    I am very glad after reading such a wonderful article. Please keep posting more on the ayurveda topics. For more info you can also visit:- http://healthanand.in/

  • Ou
      12th of Apr, 2018
    0 Votes

    Forever living is only about recruitment and getting people into your downline. It’s not about the product. Most people buy 4 CC’s each month with the hope that they will hit the big time but soon find out its unsustainable. The top people in the company lie in order to draw people in. They rent big houses and lease expensive cars so that you think that they are rich but they are not. The big cheques aren’t big once it’s converted into £’s and tax is paid.

    Too many people have lost self esteem, relationships, marriages and confidence through this organisation and only realise that they were is a bubble after they have left. Its unbelievable the amount of lies that are told in order to recruit a person and then the person is made to feel guilty if they don’t perform. The person is made to believe that the problem must be due to them and as a result convince themselves to work harder in order to achieve that dream home, dream car, dream holiday, dream handbag, dream pair of shoes etc. If someone from Forever living promises you the world and tries to lure you in with either their bank statement or one of their uplines bank statement, ask for their address and check it on land registry to see the real owner - it will cost you £3/4 max and challenge why there is a different registered owner on land registry- watch the person lie!! Ask for proof that their car is owned outright. Ask where they go on holidays and note it’s all Forever living holidays. If that’s, ‘living the dream’ I would rather not, thanks.

  • Ou
      12th of Apr, 2018
    0 Votes

    Check out the following Forever and Mlm link

    https://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/legal_money_matters/3211074-MLM-Bot-Watch-37-Planes-Trainings-and-Automobiles?pg=13&order=

Post your comment