In June, I blogged about how thousands of elderly or vulnerable people were duped by unscrupulous health supplement companies into unnecessarily buying their products and that people were being warned to be vigilant against these rogue companies. Since 2016, the Insolvency Service had wound up nine health supplement companies in the public interest after they basically scammed the elderly and vulnerable into parting with money for expensive ‘health’ products that did very little.
Now I can report that the Insolvency Service wound up another devious company Vivid Lifestyle Ltd which sold ‘nutritional supplement tablets’ to customers in the UK as well as other countries like Australia and New Zealand. Most of the company’s customers were again elderly and vulnerable patients whom Vivid Lifestyle misled as to the worth of the tablets and the positive effects in taking them. Furthermore, Vivid, which had a telesales centre in India and a distribution centre in Reading, employed highly pressurised and persistent sales practices and techniques, including telesales callers making false claims to be qualified to give medical advice. The tablets were sold to their customers at huge mark ups leading to the company enjoying a turnover of over £1 million and a huge gross profit margin of 91.4% in 2017.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the company appeared to have abused customers’ bank and credit card information. Customers were charged for items they did not order, were told they had not paid for items when they had and were charged for repeat sales which they had not requested. In some cases, customers simply paid so as to be rid of the callers. Following numerous complaints, the Insolvency Service launched an investigation into Vivid’s activities and petitioned to wind up the company.
Vivid was wound up by the High Court Business and Property Courts in Manchester on 29 August 2018 and at the hearing, for which no company representatives were present, District Judge Matharu said she found Vivid’s manner of obtaining business and payment “quite disgusting” and that the company “must be stopped”. It will be interesting to see what further action(s) the Insolvency Service take against the director/shareholders, Ramakant Lal and Soriyano Dsouza, who (according to Companies House) have addresses in Mumbai, and sales director Melvine Elias Dsilva who is in Hounslow.
Investigation Supervisor Irshard Mohammed of the Insolvency Service said that “the Insolvency Service has taken action against a significant number of companies selling everyday vitamin tablets to the elderly and infirm as a cure for whatever ails them” and “will continue to do so”.
To summarise: members of the public should be wary of anyone calling them, or their elderly or vulnerable friends or relatives, looking to sell them expensive medicines over the telephone. I will be warning my parents and suggest that anyone reading takes similar action and put an end to this practice.