Public trust in growth pills shrivels up

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Public trust in growth pills shrivels up

Parents are being led up the garden path by false advertising of growth supplements and the only thing growing is the hole in their wallets, according to a recent report.

One parent of two children bought 10.8 million won ($9,900) worth of supplements that claimed they can help young children grow more than 10 centimeters (3.94 inches) a year. However, the children didn’t grow by as much as a centimeter even after six months.

Another parent was informed she could get her money back if the same target was not met, but was later stonewalled by the company when she requested her refund.

To stop gullible parents falling prey to the wily sales gimmick of vendors, the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) issued a nationwide warning yesterday to help consumers make more prudent purchases. The vendors have been bent on unloading their dodgy products that promise to take their offspring to new heights but later prove ineffectual,

“As parents pay more attention to their children’s growth, some of the vendors lie about the supplements, and others simply charge way beyond what would be considered acceptable,” said Kim Jeong-gi of the FTC’s consumer safety and information division.

Some supplements are labeled as products of major pharmaceutical companies and retail for 400,000 won a box, when they are in reality made by smaller firms that effectively pay to borrow the name and sell their wares through more established companies’ distribution chains. Straight from the factory, a box of supplements typically costs less than 10,000 won.

Salesmen try to persuade parents to make bulk purchases based on the logic that long-term consumption yields better result. They even toss in additional health supplements to make height growth packages cost as much as 4 million won for three months’ supply. “Many of the vendors fabricate product reviews or hire well-known models to gain consumers trust,” Kim said.

By Lee Sun-min [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]

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