Acai Berry Company Temporarily Shut Down By FTC Over Billing Practices

Last summer, Central Coast Nutraceuticals settled a deceptive practices charge from Arizona’s Attorney General by promising to pay $1.4 million in fines. Now the company, which peddles acai berry and colon cleansing products, has been forced to temporarily stop selling or marketing its wonder products completely under an injunction obtained yesterday by the FTC.

The FTC argues that Central Coast promises free trial offers, but actually bills customers for the full price, which can exceed $100. It also doesn’t provide full refunds on the trials as promised.

“FTC halts sales of weight-loss, colon-cleansing Internet sales company” [Chicago Tribune]
“FTC Cracks Down on Acai Supplements, Cites Rachael Ray and Oprah” [WSJ]

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  1. MFfan310 says:

    Why these scammers exist is beyond me. Can’t one just get acai berry juice and Ex-Lax at Walmart?

    • packcamera says:

      Actually, you will have a hard time finding real acai berry juice. Most of the time it is “acai flavored” like the Snapple version. But the poo pills are the real deal…

  2. crunchberries says:

    Awesome. Those jerks also used to scam people with a green tea supplement offer that my mother fell for, so it’s good to see that the FTC finally stepped up to stop them.

  3. Winteridge2 says:

    Trying to cleanse more than just our colons.

  4. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    It always makes me giggle when people tell me that the drug companies are greedy and just want my money. Then, some company literally takes some leaves/berries off a plant, crushes them, bottles it, and charges an arm and a leg. At least I know the drug companies put some work and development and testing into what they give me.

    • eccsame says:

      No one ever died from drinking acai.
      You can’t say that about Crestor. But hey, at least they tested it – right?

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        Prove your claim.

        I know of at least a few cases where people refused medical treatment in order to treat them with homeopathic/detoxing/cleansing products and died as an result. You know how many people have died after breathing oxygen? You know how many died after not breathing oxygen?

        • eccsame says:

          Those people died from refusing other treatment, not from drinking acai. I never said it’s a safe alternative to medical treatment.

          Acai, by itself, has not led to any deaths. However, many medications have led to the death of patients. Crestor was just an example of one.

          • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

            Those people died from refusing other treatment, not from drinking acai.

            Ahh, so the acai berry didn’t kill them, the underlying disease/cause did. So how is that different than someone taking Crestor?

            • eccsame says:

              Well, in one case, taking medicine directly linked to death. And this happens with other pharmaceuticals. Not that all pharma is bad – it’s just often poorly regulated. So you pay some families a few million when grandpa dies from taking your drug – there are plenty of people who don’t and you’re making billions selling it.

              In the case of your mother’s sister’s friend who died from a disease because she refused treatment and went on an Acai berry diet – she probably died from the disease and the acai did nothing to help because Acai’s “benefits” are a load of crap.

              I was never saying one was better than the other. I was just refuting your suggestion that pharmaceutical testing is all it’s cracked up to be.

            • Aesteval says:

              That depends on the actual cause of death. Crestor could lead to rhabdomyolysis, which could lead to death. In that case it would be a side effect of the medication that caused death. However, being familiar with and very well aware of the risks and related symptoms related to the medication should make death avoidable in this case. Should in this case implying that “hey you never know, it theoretically could happen without warning.”

          • Clyde Barrow says:

            I agree that Acai by itself hasn’t lead to deaths, but I doubt Crestor by itself hasn’t either. Taking any drug interacts with a body and anything could go wrong, but at least with an approved FDA drug, the tests have tried to link side-affects, after-effects, and anything that could alter that person’s mental and physical well-being to a minimum before selling it. And also the FDA knows pretty much what to take before, during, or after an approved drug. Not so with any herbal supplement. Too many unknowns for me to take my chance with the only life I have with such simplistic and overpriced pills. I eat right and excercise; that’s good enough for me.

        • Clyde Barrow says:

          You’re right. And also the manufacturers like to white wash the facts that all these homeopathic pills are also natural, but they are still drugs none the less and non-proven and can be very lethal. There are no tests done to verify whether any of it is good for the body, how much one should take, and if you go to the FDA website, they have tested many of these homeopathic pills and have found that the stated quanity is misrepresented and the quality is most often very poor. I am always dumbfounded how a group of people can be swayed to believe in a hyped up advertisement for a plant-pill, but yet refuse to take recommendations from a doctor who is schooled and experienced in his field and who knows better. My doctor always asks me when I see him if I am taking herbal supplements because these things can negate his recommended medicine altogether and can also make me very sick.

      • Clyde Barrow says:

        That’s hardly a comparison. Crestor is tested, evaluated, and tested more on a population sample to determine the effects of the drug and acai is not. And by the way, when a few people die of a new authorized FDA drug, the news media does not take into account why those people died. The news media just wants the general population to think that the FDA is a “bad man out to get you”. There are many additional issues with a person’s health that cause that death, not just one drug. As a good friend of mine who is a nurse tells me all the time, “by the time you come to the hospital, all we can do is put on a band-aid because we cannot reverse the years of smoking, drinking, and poor eating choices that a person makes”. So by the time someone takes Crestor, that person is expecting a pill to make them perfect again? Not going to happen. As she also told me, these same folks think that doctors are some miracle workers that wave a magic wand over a body and poof! You’re all better. Not going to happen. If you’re taking Crestor, your body is already on its way out unless other drastic changes are made. I’ll trust the FDA long before some snake oil medicine man rips me off of $100+ for some berrie crap. These folks were around 100 years ago but apparently no one’s paid attention to the history books.

        • Aesteval says:

          You seem to be a bit on the presumptuous side of things implying that poor lifestyle habits are the sole cause of what some pharmaceuticals are used to treat. Or at least that’s how I’m reading what you’ve written. Genetic traits are another strong influence in who seeks treatment for what.

      • JulesNoctambule says:

        Considering it’s a berry, I’m sure someone somewhere is allergic to it so I suppose it’s just a matter of time.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        So are you saying that it is completely harmless? Because if so, they why drink it since it can’t do anything for you? I’d rather have an orange then, since it contains stuff that can help me, unlike your açai berry. If you would like to learn more about these drinks, give this a listen: http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4086

  5. jpdanzig says:

    It’s about time the FTC started cracking down on these scammers. The sad truth is that the vast majority of these companies offering FREE trials these days seem to play billing games, ducking customer calls of complaint. I hope the FTC forces all these bad guys out of business. As someone who has worked in the direct marketing industry for many years, I am ashamed to see my field tarnished by these extremely visible miscreants. As the internet proves, there are many opportunities to make money in direct marketing offering good products at good prices with good customer service.

  6. JollyJumjuck says:

    But if Oprah endorses it, it MUST be good!

    /s

  7. classic10 says:

    Whole foods sell pure acai pulp and concentrated frozen acai sorbet. Why do people sign up for a delivery subscription of juice is beyond me.

    • brinks says:

      People will pay a premium to sit on their asses. However, if they actually ever got up off their asses, they might not need so many health supplements.

  8. Zowzers says:

    I seem to recall lynching being an effective deterrent to snake oil salesmen back in the day… Perhaps we should start doing that again, no?

  9. CookiePuss says:

    Blow it out your freshly cleansed ass Acai Berry Company!

  10. AI says:

    If you like the medicinal effects and flavour of Acai, you’re going to love this brand new berry that can do the same thing at a fraction of the cost because it can be grown locally. I present to you……….Cranberries.

    • DoubleEcho says:

      But you don’t hear about people losing weight during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season! Shows how much you know hurr durr derp derp!!

  11. MarvinMar says:

    Everyone should just use a one-time use credit card when making purchases off infomercials.
    Paypal offers 1 time use numbers, or use a prepaid visa.
    Then there will be no card there to charge to.