Thursday, April 17, 2008
Readers Respond (April 18, 2008): Juice Plus Evangelism and Disease Treatment Claims
On one hand I am really, really glad you publish this blog. On the other it kind of breaks my heart. I know that sounds dramatic, but there is just so much proof of the downright dishonesty of this company. It is obviously easily seen, but it is nice to have a concentrated resource like this.
My in-laws have become followers of the cult of Juice Plus to the point that it is scary. I was roped into attending one of their "Nutritional Seminars" recently. I would have rather sat through a Southern Baptist tent revival than sit there and watch people get roped in based on false "research" and magical cures. The keynote speaker was a medical doctor (and even had a picture of her office on her poorly put together PowerPoint presentation) and as I am sure you know the routine. Shocking statistics about how unhealthy Americans are, the benefits of fresh fruits, the inconvenience of fresh fruits and vegetables, the ultimate pitch to just buy Juice Plus.
This speaker took things too far a few different times. At one point she said besides the fact that real fruits and vegetables are too expensive, once they are shipped and put on store shelves there is NO nutrition left in them. I can understand this bs theory coming from the individual resellers, not from the a paid spokesperson at a company sponsored event.
From Name Witheld by User's Request (April 17, 2008)
I want to thank you for the research and work you do to expose Juice Plus for what it is. I appreciate your web site and the knowledge I have gained from it. I found your web site several months ago after I was approached by a Juice Plus distributor. I found the claims that Juice Plus cures and prevents nearly everything unbelievable, so I set out to learn more about this product. I am deeply troubled by the number of friends who have fallen victim to this product.
Keep up the good work.
Readers Respond (April 16, 2008): NSA Tries to Block EBay Sales of Juice Plus
From Anonymous (April 15, 2008)
I was talked into Juice Plus against my better judgment in a weak moment when my son had contracted an infection, was in the hospital, and nothing seemed to be working. My neighbor is a distributor and she helpfully got us signed up for their automatic shipments. We tried the stuff for a couple of months, realized it was absolutely worthless, but neglected to cancel the order--partly because I did not want to get into it with my neighbor who is a 'true believer' in this stuff. Over time, I had several boxes of unopened Juice Plus that I knew we would never use. Canceling the auto shipments has been a nightmare, so I can only imagine how successful my attempts at getting a refund for unopened product would have been. But the worst part of doing business with these people is their overly-aggressive legal department. I listed the unopened still-in-the-shipping-boxes Juice Plus I had sitting in my cupboards on Ebay for considerably less than I paid for it. It was that or throw it out. I received this letter from NSA 'Internal Affairs':
"Hi [ ], It has recently come to our attention that you have placed an offer to sell Juice Plus+® products on the eBay auction website. This email letter is to inform you that our products are not to be sold by unauthorized individuals for your protection.
Juice Plus+® and other NSA products can only be sold through Independent Distributors. Any use of company trade names or trademarks without permission from NSA is strictly prohibited. NSA Inc. Juice Plus+® is a member of the eBay Vero program and we enforce the right to protect our trademarks.
In light of the foregoing, we request that you Please remove your auction and cease any future offers to sell Juice Plus+® products on the auction website.Please call 1-800-347-6350 with your sales order number during business hours. We are open Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm CST. Let the representative know you removed your auction from eBay for a refund. We can issue you a refund for all of your remaining unopened products.
Thank you for your understanding.
NSA Home Office...USA
140 Crescent Drive
Collierville, TN 38017
For the record, there is no trademark protection that prevents private individuals from selling items they own (purchased from any company) to each other or everybody who has ever had a garage sale would be in violation of intellectual property laws. Had I sold a product that was similar to, but not actually Juice Plus, and represented it as Juice Plus, that would have been a trademark violation. As it is, I sold their product, clearly identified as their product, as a private individual--and at a loss. As they must surely know, they have no case for trademark infringement, so the purpose of these letters is intimidation, pure and simple. Their reference to Ebay's Vero program is a joke. Their 'partnership' with Ebay consists of a link where they spell out their desire that their products be sold only by distributors. This is their preferred business model and they have a right to it. However, it is not the law. Juice Plus is not a prescription item, so they can suggest a distribution model, but they can not legally enforce it. Can you imagine Coca-cola or Revlon or any other legitimate company resorting to these tactics? There is a frightening element of fanaticism in their sales force, and clear bullying and strong-arm tactics in their business tactics. My advice to others--run, don't walk, away from these people.
Others have also complained about NSA’s use of bullying tactics to thwart the sale of Juice Plus on Ebay. It’s unclear as to why NSA would make such an effort to intimidate people who merely want to recoup some of the money they wasted buying Juice Plus. It is possible that NSA simply doesn’t want to draw general attention to Juice Plus because it would inevitably lead to closer scrutiny and more criticism. It is much more effective and safer for NSA to selectively target their product message at the suckers who are culled from among the friends and relatives of Juice Plus distributors -- this is a fundamental feature of the Juice Plus MLM business model. If Juice Plus were to be sold by retailers, rather than through a below-the-radar MLM network, and continued to be promoted using the same misleading and often flagrantly illegal claims that its distributors have routinely been making, the FDA would shut NSA down in a heartbeat.
It’s also likely that NSA doesn’t want Ebayers selling Juice Plus because they typically offer it at a price below that charged by distributors. Consistently undercutting prices would cripple the ability of Juice Plus distributors to unload product, and with that, the pyramid (uh, excuse us, MLM network) would collapse.
It is surprising that NSA would even have an Internal Affairs department, and it is downright baffling as to why a department bearing this name would deal with Ebay transactions, which are obviously not internal affairs at all but rather external affairs. It would be more customary to have a consumer relations, legal, or business affairs department handle such matters. Perhaps NSA likes the title Internal Affairs because it sounds more intimidating, and anyone who can be fooled into buying Juice Plus is probably also gullible enough to be cowed into submission by the fear of NSA’s Internal Affairs stormtroopers coming after them. Even the name NSA is intimidating -- it's the same acronym used by the U.S. National Security Agency.
The senior staff at NSA’s Internal Affairs department include (or did at one time) Elton DuBose, who heads the department, and assistant director Todd White. Aside from Jennifer Drenzek, who wrote the threatening email above, the only other NSA Internal Affairs employee we know of is Jennifer Harris. Her name came up in connection within another warning letter written to a Juice Plus Ebayer.
NSA’s efforts to thwart the sale of Juice Plus on Ebay do not seem to be effective -- there are more than 80 Ebay auction listings for Juice Plus as of today.
Postscript: Regarding the refunds NSA has offered to EBay sellers, it seems that they are not as easy to get as the company would have us believe. In one case, an EBay seller was offered only a partial refund, and in another, NSA kept the returned merchandise and never issued a refund. In response to the latter case, Tabberone’s Hall of Shame had this to say:
"So, boys and girls, what can we deduce from this? In our opinion, not only are the IP people at Juice Plus stupid in their attitude, approach, and knowledge of trademark law, but they are also cheats and not to be trusted."
- Why can't I sell Juice Plus? Health & Beauty Discussion Forums; April 5, 2008.
- Juice Plus. Tabberone’s Hall of Shame; December 18, 2006 (updated April 3, 2007).
- Correspondence from Todd White (NSA Assistant Director of Internal Affairs) regarding EBay auction of Juice Plus, Tabberone’s Hall of Shame; December 4, 2006.
- Correspondence from Jennifer White (NSA Internal Affairs) regarding EBay auction of Juice Plus, Tabberone’s Hall of Shame; December 1, 2006.