A few times a week, I get an e-mail asking, "What ever happened to MonaVie and their legal multiple threats?" For those who are new to my site, here's the abridged version of the story. My wife went to a meeting of a young adults group that she belongs to. Someone there told her about this $45 a bottle (25oz.) juice called MonaVie and said that it could be good for her. Noting that juice in stores cost around $4 or $5 for twice as much juice, I figured something was up. So I did a little research and wrote about MonaVie. Somehow it got popular and some consumer advocates contributed a lot of information about how MonaVie was a scam. MonaVie, obviously doesn't like this negative publicity ranking so prominently in Google. They realized they couldn't tell Google to remove it, so they went to their lawyers. Their lawyers decided it was better to try bully me into taking the article with potential lawsuits. Unfortunately the lawyers tried to use precedent that was ten years old and ignore the fact it new precedent had been set. It turned into a PR nightmare for them as a pile of bloggers used their considerable strength to support me. The experience led me to work on my MonaVie Scam website with renewed enthusiasm. And that was the last I've talked about it publicly.
To this day, MonaVie legal has never responded to my responses as to why their bullying wasn't going to work. However, I recently did have the beginnings of a fruitful conversation with a member of MonaVie's blogging team. How did that happen? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) came out with new guidelines concerning testimonials and endorsements. MonaVie, to their credit, was right on the ball with this and put an alert on their blog. Interestingly, one of the guidelines MonaVie warned their distributors of was violated by an employee of MonaVie itself when she called me an annoying douche in the past. I left a comment not expecting MonaVie to publish it since it was a direct attack on them. To MonaVie's credit, they owned up to that mistake.
I decided to also cover what the FTC Guidelines means for MonaVie. If you have three minutes, I highly recommend reading it. For those without the three minutes, here's another abridged version: MonaVie sounds like they are crapping their pants. No longer can their distributors make any medical claims of any kind... a distributor can't even say that they believe MonaVie is responsible for any health benefits they received unless it's a "typical result" for the average use of MonaVie. What distributors say must be truthful as well. A distributor must also say that they are distributor when giving any kind of testimonial or endorsement. MonaVie and the distributors are liable for distributor's transgressions, which is something I predicted long ago when I compared the relationship of MonaVie and their distributors to Napster and their users. Napster's users' actions buried the parent company and MonaVie's distributors' actions will do the same. Lastly, MonaVie itself pointed out in their blog post that the FTC has said "repeatedly" (MonaVie's quote) it is going after acai berry companies that make unreasonable health claims.
At $45 a bottle, MonaVie juice isn't going sell on taste alone. The only hope MonaVie has here is tell it's distributors behind closed doors to comment as they normally would, but pretend to not be distributors - thus pretending to have no financial interest in MonaVie. Of course this is a violation of the FTC guidelines itself. I don't see how MonaVie is going to sustain a business anymore.
On the other hand, perhaps distributors will just ignore the FTC guidelines. The guidelines have been active only four days and I noticed this distributor saying that it helped her with her menstrual cycle and is going to make her rich, two statements against the new guidelines. I think the FTC would also crack down on this distributor who makes the claim of "upto %30 of Active bottle is the freeze dried acai berry" when that's information that MonaVie says they haven't and won't release. While it's not an entire lie, it's similar to me saying my net worth is up to 70% of Warren Buffet's... it just turns out that the number actually far below 1% and not close to the 70%. It's clearly misleading and the FTC would have no problem going after someone with a statement like that.
That's pretty much my whole MonaVie update. I would have posted more this week, but this new development has slowed me down. Also I've been spending time revamping MonaVie Scam so that homepage helps organize some of the major things that a consumer should consider before buying and drinking MonaVie. I politely ask anyone who agrees with me on this topic to spread the word of this MonaVie Scam. For those people reading this on the website (as opposed to my RSS feed), you'll note that I also included the RSS feed of the blog there right here in the right-hand column on Lazy Man and Money.
7 Responses to “MonaVie and FTC Guidelines”
Next: Verizon is Evil (and some personal finance links)