Banital… Great advice, starting with Banning Banital!
This is a warning to any crappy supplement company. DO NOT COME ON MY RADIO STATION AND START SELLING YOUR CRAP! Seriously, you want to sell your false hope on infomercials at 1 in the afternoon or 1 in the morning, go to town. But middle of the afternoon on my radio… get serious. Banital, you were telling straight up lies to me while my kids were trying to listen to music. What is wrong with you? Do you have no scruples, no sense of decency?
Well, it’s on! First I will expose your product for what it is, along with who the producer is. Then I am going after the Radio Station for taking your money, and along the way I will be reporting you to the FTC, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council and anyone else who regulates false advertising.
Lets start with the ad
It turns out that the radio ad is just the audio of the television ad, so we are fortunate enough to have a sample ad right here. I will later confirm that these ads are the same by acquiring a transcript of the ad, but that may take a bit of time.
Okay, the misinformation and lies. Normally I start with the scam elements of an ad, but this one is so bad I will go right to the misinformation and lies:
- There is a new way to lose weight that is as fast and healthy as any diet program.
- Scientifically developed detox and weight loss system that helps cleanse your body and helps lose the weight that some professionals say is stored in our body for years.
- Months of failed dieting may be equal to a week of Banital.
- Banital eliminates the weight you can’t lose with starvation diets or exhausting exercise.
- You don’t have to take it forever.
These are straight up, stone cold lies. At the very least there is NO EVIDENCE at all, anywhere for any one of these claims. At the most, they are ridiculous lies hiding behind attempts to mitigate the lies with ‘mays’ and ‘some professionals say’, or even worse, some backwards grammar so they actually end up saying that the product is useless…
Let’s look at each of these statements:
There is a new way to lose weight that is as fast and healthy as any diet program.
It isn’t new, fast or healthy and it will not help you lose weight. There is currently little or no evidence that taking any supplement will assist in long term weightloss and there is a mountain of evidence that eating a balanced diet with regular exercise will result in significant weightloss. The fastest healthiest diet program is eating well (The Zone Diet) and getting regular exercise.
Scientifically developed detox and weight loss system that helps cleanse your body and helps lose the weight that some professionals say is stored in our body for years.
Although there is some testing on individual ingredients in this supplement, there IS NO scientific evidence that THIS product works, or that scientists created the blend or that there is anything normally associated with science used in the development of this product. I bet I could find a 4 leaf clover in this companies office easier than a scientist. Further, there are probably people who are professionals in some fields-but not gastroenterologists- who believe incorrectly that we store pounds of waste in our intestines and need it cleansed, but this is misleading enough to be a lie. There are professionals who believe that the world is ending tomorrow, that there are unicorns and fairies and that Greedo shot first in the original Star Wars. The thing is, people are nuts, at least some are and you can always find someone who will say some crazy stuff, especially for money. So, I can pretty much say, professionals say ‘…’ fill in the blank and be right, but if I am implying that what these professionals say is true, well then, I am probably a liar and most certainly scamming you.
No gastroenterologists say that there is weight stored in our body for years that a cleanse will clean out. That is one of the oldest detox scams in the world and it has been thoroughly and completely debunked. You can read about it here, here and here. Experts don’t say anything about this stored ‘weight’ (unless they are referring to actual fat that has been stored, although what the hell a cleanse would have to do with that is beyond me), it is only con artists and quacks who say anything about this stored weight.
You could read the sentence to suggest that the weight stored in our bodies is in the fat cells (which is true), although why only some professionals would claim this is odd in its own right because we have known for a long time that this is precisely how weight is stored in the body. As well, again, I don’t think any professionals say that Banital could get rid of that fat.
Months of failed dieting may be equal to a week of Banital.
This one is true, but only because of the poor logic of the sentence. Months of FAILED dieting are probably exactly equal to Banital because the diets are a failure. What does this tell you they think of Banital. That is right, by the manufacturers own claims BANITAL = FAILED DIETING. Actually, they don’t even promise this much, couching it in a may!
Banital eliminates the weight you can’t lose with starvation diets or exhausting exercise
Either this is a genius bit of logic, or it is an outright lie. Logically, what is the ‘the weight you can’t lose with starvation diets or exhausting exercise’. To be honest, there is no weight that you can’t lose that way-if we take weight to mean excess body fat. Therefore, once again, (substitute no weight for the weight you can’t lose with starvation diets and you get) Banital elimates ‘no weight’. Genius logic. The implication is that there is weight that you can’t eliminate with diets and exercise, using such pointed words as starvation and exhausting, but Banital will get rid of it. I call Bullshit on that one.
You don’t have to take it forever
Again, very insidious implication here. The implication is that you don’t have to take it forever to get the desired results, but that simply isn’t true. The ingredients in Banital, all claim to act by speeding metabolism, blocking marcronutrients and controlling cravings. As soon as you stop taking it, you go back to a slow metabolism, absorbing macronutrients and uncontrolled cravings. There are no studies to talk about the long term effects of any of these ingredients and certainly NOTHING in the literature to suggest that the ingestion of these ingredients creates permanent long lasting effects. Mind you, if you read the sentence literally, no, you don’t have to take it forever. You can stop any time.
So, the claims are the same crap we keep getting
Supplements may work for long term weightloss. There are some promising supplements in the Banital product. In fact, there are tons of natural herbal ingredients that are associated or rumored to be associated with or traditional used for weight issues. The evidence behind them isn’t great, there is NOWHERE NEAR enough science to even sell these herbs as a weight loss product, and certainly, in my opinion it is lying to say that these herbs make Banital, ‘The Ultimate Weight Loss System’. Please keep this in mind with any supplements you see. Until there are enough studies to back up the claims, don’t give them your money and certainly, NEVER give them your credit card numbers!! If there are promising studies on supplements, I will gladly publish them, but remember, even the most promising supplement will probably not compare to a reasonable eating and exercising routine.
First, lets find out who makes Banital
Banital is manufactured by TBSI in Naples Florida.
Who is behind TBSI? According to Wiki it is Timothy B Schliesser. Who is Timothy B Schliesser? The answer to this one will astound you.
There is a Timothy B Schliesser who was arrested for running a puppy mill. link, but that was in Somerset County in Pennsylvania back in 1999… could this be the same man. According to the story, David Holtzman was his accomplice.
Two Somerset County dog breeders will appear in federal court on Aug 11, 2005 to answer to charges that they transported sick puppies to unsuspecting buyers in other states and made up a fake veterinarian to help them do it.
From December 1999 through August 2000, the men advertised in magazines, newspapers and on the Internet to sell “healthy” English bulldog, cockapoo and pug puppies, court documents state. The animals had infections, infestations and other health defects.
State and federal officials have labeled the two as puppy mill operators. Pennsylvania has long been considered a hot-bed for puppy mills. Lancaster County is believed to have the highest concentration of puppy mills of any county in the nation.
A search for David Hotzman and Timothy B Schliesser turn up the two man as associates, now located in Naples Florida. What are the odds of that.
Hmmm… an upstanding group of young men if I were to be asked. It does not appear that either of these men are scientists, certainly not in the any fields associated with human metabolism. As well, there background doesn’t point so much to weight loss expert or even individuals interested in weight loss techniques… I think it is important to know about their background though because to me, someone who runs a puppy mill, who is charged and convicted more than once… Well that person is about as low as humans go. They have sold their souls and in my opinion, once you have sold that, it is very hard to get it back.
Now on to the radio station.
Okay, so far it is hard to be mad at these guys (but I am getting there). I called up and demanded a copy of the ad or a transcript. They said they were not allowed to send out the ad itself, but they would be happy to sit down and transcribe the entire commercial for me, but this might take a little while. Shortly thereafter I got an email saying that they were not allowed to send me a copy of the ad because of ‘Copyright issues’. By the way, this is the reason that the SOPA laws were so poorly written and so open to abuse. The makers of Banital could claim that I have violated their copyright by including parts of their ad on my site, even though in every way that ad is part of the public record and in no way could me reviewing it be seen as copyright infringement. Still, if SOPA were around they could have my website shut down just for claiming that it was. Even without SOPA, they tried to stop me from reviewing their ad by claiming that it was a copyright issue. It is just insane.
So, the radio station was going to get them to call me to discuss my issues. I actually did get call from the company rather quickly but apparently they didn’t understand what I was asking for because instead of getting anyone in charge, I spoke with the office manager who was under the impression that I was a disgruntled customer who had contacted the radio station for a refund after not being able to get one on their phone line. A little side note here, but I often call the refund phone lines of these companies (when they are 1-800 lines) and I have yet to get through to one agent. Seriously, not one.
I don’t know if you are aware, but to get Visa approval to accpet the credit card on a website as a business, you have to jump through a lot of hoops. You need to have all sorts of policies written and phone numbers posted. Funny thing though, Visa apparently never checks any of those numbers. Makes me think they are probably liable for losses and damages when the Attorney General ends up going after these companies who bill for repeat services that were never asked for and products that people didn’t order. Seriously, not one call has ended up with a person on the other end of the line. I did call the Banital line as well, but of course, the line went dead after a little while.
In any case, I wasn’t a disgruntled purchaser but a person with 2 questions. First, could I have a transcript of their ad and second, what is their DIN number (I will get to that in a second). The person informed me they were only an office manager and they would speak with the boss and get back to me. No surprise that is all that I ever heard from Banital.
As for the DIN Number, well, being a Canadian I am aware that although we have ridiculously lax laws here regarding what can be sold as a health food, they aren’t quite as lax as in the states. There is one additional hoop you have to jump through in Canada and that is your DIN number. A DIN (Drug Identification Number) number is strictly for drugs, but the alternate for health products is the Natural Product Number (NPN) or Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM). You can read all about it here. You don’t have to do as much for one of these as a DIN, but you do need to prove the efficacy of your product with respect to your claims. Not such a bad little requirement I think. Like in the states though, as long as you use ‘generally agreed as safe’ ingredients you don’t have to test for safety. That is fine by me. Still, these aren’t hard to get and a bunch of scams are still advertised here, just not as many.
So, a health food cannot be advertised in Canada and a Radio Station cannot advertise it if it doesn’t have a NPN or DIN-HM. Which brings us to a little problem. After some searching through the readily available online database of health products, Banital appeared absent. I spoke with the Radio Station again, and although they were helpful, I told them that I couldn’t find any evidence of Banital having a DIN. That was the last I heard from them. The person in charge of the actual advertising account at Astral in Toronto never returned a call and Virgin stopped responding. They had been helpful right from the beginning but I guess they never checked for a DIN number (something that they are required to do).
Stage 3, The Reporting
So, with no one at Banital responding to me and Astral Media shut up tighter than a drum (which really kind of sucks because the people at Virgin 95.3 were really nice and I was thinking of contacting them when I am ready to start promoting my book but now they won’t even answer my calls so I guess that is another bridge burned), I had to move on to phase 3. I wrote to a bunch of Canadian agencies about this product being advertised on the Radio and I got a lot of immediate responses. I was kind of excited. Until I read a little deeper into the responses like this one from Advertising Standards Canada:
My complaint to Health Canada came up with this response:
Dear Mr. Vaughan,
Thank you for contacting Health Canada regarding Banital. Your correspondence has been forwarded to the Drug Compliance Verification and Investigation Unit (DCVIU), as we coordinate compliance verification and investigation activities involving health products.
Banital does not have the marketing authorization for sale in Canada. The Health Products and Food Branch Inspectorate is committed to verifying complaints regarding the quality or safety of health products, however, we require more information in order to pursue the matter further. Please visit the following web link to read our Guide on “How to Submit a Consumer Complaint”. This guide details what information is needed to process a complaint, and where to submit it depending on your location.
The Inspectorate is committed to verifying complaints from consumers regarding the quality or safety of health products. Due to the high volume of complaints received, they are prioritised according to the risk to health they may pose on the general public. In other words, higher risk incidents are given priority.
For more information, please contact the Inspectorate program, British Columbia Region using the following contact information:
Inspectorate Program, British Columbia Region
Toll free: 1-800-267-9675
Assistant Telephone : 604-666-3149
Drug Compliance Verification and Investigation Unit / Unité de vérification de la conformité et d’enquêtes sur les médicaments
Health Products and Food Branch Inspectorate / Inspectorat de la Direction générale des produits de santé et des aliments
250 Lanark Avenue, (A.L.2003B), Ottawa, ON, K1A 0K9
And so on… I am not even sure who handles the complaints, or if they have seen the complaint. I have no idea if it has further to go up a ladder or if it is there. It is clear that I was right, they shouldn’t have been advertising. Apparently this isn’t an advertising standards issue, which I don’t understand… I don’t know whose issue it is. At first I was pleased to get agreement that their product isn’t licensed for sale in Canada, and such immediate and vehement responses, but then I realized people are very happy to quickly move this issue off of their desk. The thing is, it has been almost a month and I have no idea whose desk it is on now.
Well here at least, Banital steps up.
We only collect personally identifiable information about you via this website when you provide it in connection with a request for a product, service, or information.
Oh, wait a minute… did I say steps up… I meant these guys will sell you out in a heartbeat. Afterall, they did operate puppy mills! Seriously, they knowingly shipped sick puppies through the mail with forged veterinary documents saying they were fine…
We may also share personally identifiable information with marketing partners or other direct marketers, so they can send you notices about products or services that may be of interest to you. Our website may offer links to and from other third party sites. These third parties have separate data collection and privacy practices independent from ours, and thus we cannot be responsible for their policies or activities. Please contact those third parties directly if you have questions about their privacy policies.
Finally, I will keep you in the loop with any updates on this story, although to tell you the truth I doubt there will be any. I will be sending this to the FTC as well as the Attorney General’s office in Florida. Again, I doubt anything will come of it. By the way, I told the radio station that I was going to be writing this. I said that I would like to portray them in the best light possible as they had been so up front with me. I explained that right now it looked like they got greedy and didn’t check out the ad for a product that was making claims that were ridiculous, failing to do a simple search for a product ID number before cashing the cheque and putting them on the air. I held this report for 2 weeks for them to respond. Nothing. Oh well. I did try.