BBB serving New Mexico & Southwest Colorado was founded in 1941. For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brand and charities they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org.
Every year there’s a new cream, pill, drink or fad diet that promises spectacular weight-loss results. Consumers who want to get in shape or lose weight are at risk of being deceived by products that do not work as advertised or come with a host of unwanted side effects.
BBB received more than 700 complaints about weight loss products in 2017. Many consumer complaints described weight loss programs as difficult to cancel, even if the product doesn’t work as claimed in the ads.
Some consumers say they believed they were making a one-time purchase but then received recurring charges to their credit cards for more of the product. When they contacted customer service, they were informed that they had signed up for a subscription, which was only disclosed in the terms and conditions of their original purchase, which the consumers had not seen.
In other, similar complaints, consumers described being notified of an additional shipment of the weight loss product that they did not order. When they tried to contact the company to cancel, the company claimed the item had already shipped, and the consumer struggled to receive a refund for the shipped product. Many consumers also filed complaints after being unable to reach the weight loss goals stated in advertising for the product.
Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers these tips to help you evaluate weight loss supplements and other weight loss products:
- Ask your doctor what an achievable weight loss goal for you would be. Beware of claims that you will lose dozens of pounds within a short time period like a few weeks; most people’s bodies can’t accommodate that kind of weight loss.
- Determine your fitness goals. It’s hard work to lose weight. Find a program you can stick with, preferably one that you enjoy. Does a weight loss plan require you to buy special foods? Can you cancel if you move or find that the program doesn’t meet your needs?
- Avoid products that claim to help you lose weight without diet or exercise and be skeptical of claims that you don’t have to give up favorite foods or reduce the amount you consume. Doctors, dieticians and other experts agree that losing weight takes work. Pass up any product that promises miraculous results without any effort. Try filling up on healthy vegetables and fruits so you can resist high-calorie treats. However, eliminating all your favorites could set you up to fail. It’s better to limit portion size or how frequently you indulge.
- Be suspicious of taking special pills, powders or herbs. Sometimes these are gimmicks and offer little or no accurate scientific research to back up the claims.
- Be wary of a lack of ingredient list. Some companies have been accused of not advertising certain ingredients that can come with harmful side effects or mix adversely with prescription drugs you may be taking.
- There is never a guarantee when it comes to weight loss. Be cautious when a company says it can guarantee weight loss. There is no magic pill to make you shed pounds. Shady diet supplement companies know that few people will take the time and effort to get their money back so making a money-back guarantee is not a money losing concept. Many companies will not even honor their supposed guarantee.
- Be suspicious of ridiculously positive testimonials on the company website. Testimonials become an easy marketing tool and are easily faked. These are often accompanied with glorious before and after pictures.
- Read all terms and conditions for any weight loss product you buy. Make sure that you are purchasing only the items you wish to purchase, and are not signing up for a subscription unless you want it. Be cautious of any contract that takes payment from your credit card until you cancel.
- Research a business’s reputation. Some dishonest actors in the industry sell products that don’t work, have uncomfortable side effects, or both.
BBB St. Louis and BBB Serving Mainland BC contributed to this report.