Boots have now removed all claims regarding menopause treatment from the website after a complaint was made to the ASA. However, the product is still for sale online and almost certainly in store. The claims are still being made on the product packaging.
Let's continue the pressure until Boots stop making these claims.
In your complaint to Trading Standards you should mention:
- Boots have removed the claims from their website after a complaint to the ASA (not sure if it was because of this complaint)
- Boots have edited the product photo so that the claims stated on the packaging are taken outside the ASA's remit
- However, the claims are still being made on the packaging itself when seen in store.
If you've signed up to the pledge to complain to Trading Standards about Boots selling quack medical products, thank you. Boots has an agreement with Nottingham Trading Standards so all complaints about Boots are processed there. However, you should complain to your local Trading Standards body rather than the Nottingham one and allow them to forward it.
The initial complaints will be for Boots’ “Menopause relief magnet”. This was chosen because we believe it should be easy for Trading Standards to do something about it. If we are successful we can send them a claim that’s a little more difficult to understand.
When should I complain?
At the bottom of this post, I’ve copied and pasted a list of names and dates. Please look up your name to find your date. If you’re not on the list (some people subscribed anonymously, or after I copied the list) then please complain immediately.
Please put a reminder in your calendar for that day. You can copy this text to make it easy:
Complain to Trading Standards about Boots Quackery
Before you complain, please check that Boots is still selling the product. If not, let Simon know immediately and we’ll see if they are making other misleading claims.
Full information is available at http://adventuresinnonsense.blogspot.com/2011/02/what-to-do-about-boots.html
Don't forget to leave a comment on Simon's blog to say you've done it.
What to mention in your complaint
You can make a complaint to Trading Standards with one paragraph (please don’t use this exact text):
“I saw this product in Boots saying it relieves the symptoms of the menopause. I think this isn't right and I want to complain about it.”
However, there are a number of things you can mention to strengthen your complaint:
- You are complaining under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Under these regulations, it is up to the seller to provide evidence for any claims they make, rather than up to the Trading Standards body to prove the claims wrong.
- As a Trading Standards body it is their duty to enforce the Consumer Protection Regulations.
- Where you saw the claims being made. This may be online, but if you happen to be near a Boots, pop in and see if they’ve got one in store and complain about that.
- Precisely quote any dodgy claims that you find on adverts, websites, packaging or photos of packaging and state that you do not believe they are backed up by robust evidence.
- Reference the evidence for/against efficacy.
- Why are you doing this? If it’s to protect the public from misleading medical claims then say so.
What evidence is there for using magnets to reduce the symptoms of menopause?
There are only two relevant articles I could find on PubMed, neither were trials.
Treatment of menopause-associated vasomotor symptoms: position statement of The North American Menopause Society.
They recommend "Single clinical trials have found no benefit for dong quai, evening primrose oil, ginseng, a Chinese herbal mixture, acupuncture, or magnet therapy."
In a box labelled "Approach to management of menopausal symptoms" states:
"Homeopathy, magnetic therapy, reflexology, dong quai, ginsing, evening primrose oil and vitamin E have not been demonstrated to be clinically significant compared with placebo."
and within "Non-hormonal options"
"Magnetic therapy: no benefit"
Within a section titled "Homeopathy, magnet therapy & foot reflexology" it states
"In RCTs, neither homeopathic remedies, magnet therapy, nor foot reflexology out-performed placebo in relieving menopausal symptoms."
How do I submit my complaint?
There are several ways to complain. Firstly, the easy way is to use the online form here. The submission will go via Consumer Direct, but that’s fine. There is a limit on the amount of text you can enter.
Secondly, you can contact your local trading standards direct with either an email or a letter. Their contact details can be found by entering your postcode on the form at the bottom of this page.
What about Libel?
Complaints to Trading Standards are protected from libel action, so you can make clear accusations without risk. Avoid saying anything in public and you should be risk free. Boots would be incredibly foolish to proceed with libel action.
Can I make my complaint more powerful?
Most Trading Standards offices prioritise complaints based upon two factors: how many complaints have they received, and how many people have actually lost money. If you buy a magnet, you’d have a more effective complaint.
You certainly don’t need to do this however.
Details of names & dates below:
|Simon Perry||08 February 2011|
|Dr Michael A Ward||09 February 2011|
|Danny Strickland||10 February 2011|
|Dr Tom Williamson||11 February 2011|
|Richard Stelling||12 February 2011|
|Johnnie Shannon||13 February 2011|
|Chris Sexton||14 February 2011|
|Ian Scott||15 February 2011|
|Chris Richardson||16 February 2011|
|Mike Conradi||17 February 2011|
|Dr Martin Poulter||18 February 2011|
|Steve Page||19 February 2011|
|Dr Stephen Southward||20 February 2011|
|Mandeep Smith||21 February 2011|
|Dr Stuart Nicholl||22 February 2011|
|Steve Haigh||23 February 2011|
|Simon Stanford||24 February 2011|
|Richard Tomsett||25 February 2011|
|Marianne Baker||26 February 2011|
|Jo Hockey||27 February 2011|
|Rhys Morgan||28 February 2011|
|Dale Williams||01 March 2011|
|Jon Pearson||02 March 2011|
|Giles Wendes||03 March 2011|
|Conor Pendergrast||04 March 2011|
|Steve leigh||05 March 2011|
|Dr Wendy Cousins||06 March 2011|
|Alan Henness||07 March 2011|
|Mike Hall||08 March 2011|
|Nicola Woolhouse||09 March 2011|
|Gordon Wilson||10 March 2011|
|Darren Starck||11 March 2011|
|Martijn ter Borg||12 March 2011|
|Darren Griffin||13 March 2011|
|Rebecca O'Neill||14 March 2011|
|Paul Buckland-White||15 March 2011|
|B Corcoran||16 March 2011|
|Dan-Raoul Miranda||17 March 2011|
|Michael Marshall||18 March 2011|
|Ralf Neugebauer||19 March 2011|
|Jo Brodie||20 March 2011|
|L Pedley||21 March 2011|
|Ashley Frieze||22 March 2011|
|Sharon Smiles||23 March 2011|
|James Thomas||24 March 2011|
|Wesley perry||25 March 2011|
|Simon Danaher||26 March 2011|
|Doogie Brodie||27 March 2011|
|Sah Winstone||28 March 2011|
|Dr Cara Laney||29 March 2011|
|Stew Wilson||30 March 2011|
|Kash Farooq||31 March 2011|
|Sid Rodrigues||01 April 2011|
|David Hughes||02 April 2011|
|Peter Harrison||03 April 2011|
|Trish Hann||04 April 2011|
|Patrick Redmond||05 April 2011|
|Adam Timberley||06 April 2011|
|Paul Berry||07 April 2011|
|caroline panico||08 April 2011|
|James Lipscombe||09 April 2011|
|Emma Smith||10 April 2011|
|Tulpesh Patel||11 April 2011|
|RobertPettifer||12 April 2011|
|Tim Reid||13 April 2011|
|Jane Symons||14 April 2011|
|Alexandra Beuchert||15 April 2011|
|Tom Marinan||16 April 2011|
|Kevin Rose||17 April 2011|
|Prof Stephen Curry||18 April 2011|
|Hannah Haines||19 April 2011|
|Andy Stoker||20 April 2011|
|David Noble||21 April 2011|
|Sven Rudloff||22 April 2011|
|Dr J J Grattage||23 April 2011|
|Olivia Vinden||24 April 2011|
|Tony Mansfield||25 April 2011|
|Julia Matheson||26 April 2011|
|Bethan Jade McIlroy||27 April 2011|
|Michelle Goodger||28 April 2011|
|Dan Sutton||29 April 2011|
|Sandra hoare||30 April 2011|
|steven lindsay||01 May 2011|
|Dawn Mason||02 May 2011|
|Leo Donnelly||03 May 2011|
|James Cole||04 May 2011|
|Sean Ellis||05 May 2011|
|Stephen Griffin||06 May 2011|
|Elaine Pickering||07 May 2011|
|Alastair Grant||08 May 2011|
|Kevin Lowis||09 May 2011|
|Dominic Brown||10 May 2011|
|Jo Thornely||11 May 2011|
|Julie Williams||12 May 2011|
|Ms Jane Robinson||13 May 2011|
|Alan Wellstead||14 May 2011|
|Karelle Menochet||15 May 2011|
|Jere Koskela||16 May 2011|
|stephen hughes||17 May 2011|
|Audrey Johnson||18 May 2011|
|Jamie Woolley||19 May 2011|
|Dr Richard Morley||20 May 2011|
|Vikki Hurst||21 May 2011|
|Donald MacCormick||22 May 2011|
|Matthew Hardy||23 May 2011|
|Alan Bird||24 May 2011|
|Ben Harris||25 May 2011|
|Tim Bennett||26 May 2011|