Sat, Dec 03, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Most contracts at weight-loss firms fail DOH rules

Staff Writer, with CNA

As many as 66.67 percent of the contracts used in the weight-loss industry in Taipei failed to meet Department of Health (DOH) standards in a recent inspection by the city government, officials said yesterday.

Of the 99 companies investigated, 66 were instructed to revise their contracts and submit new versions by Wednesday or face a fine of between NT$20,000 (US$663) and NT$100,000, officials said.

Fifty-one companies were using the standard department contract for the weight-loss and beauty industries, but the contracts used by 18 contained incomplete information, Food and Drug Division director Chen Li-chi (陳立奇) said.

Notably, discounted non-refundable items and products were not included, officials said.

Some of the companies also failed to secure customers’ signatures on important agreements or get permission from the parents or guardians of minors, Chen added.

Companies are permitted to draft their own contracts as long as they follow the guidelines contained in the government’s contract template, but there was room for improvement among the 27 companies that opted to draw up their own contracts, Chen said.

The 21 companies that were found to not use any contract were mostly small non-franchised business, Chen said, adding that they were failing to protect the rights of consumers.

Disputes generally arise when people move, change their minds, or want to terminate contracts pertaining to weight-loss classes or products, said Chen Bi-chu, chief consumer protection official with the Law and Regulation Commission.

Legally speaking, any products that have not been opened should be refundable, Chen said.

The Taipei City Government would continue to inspect the industry, she said, adding that any contract-related complaints could be made via the 1999 hotline.

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