In the Taipei District Court yesterday, the Consumers’ Foundation (消基會) sued former Top Pot Bakery Co chairman Chuang Hung-ming (莊鴻銘), current chairman Hsu Hsun-ping (徐洵平), and celebrity Dee Hsu (徐熙娣, better known as Little S) for NT$25.6 million (US$847,466) on behalf of 1,060 customers.
The company saw a scandal in August last year when it revealed its use of artificial flavorings in products it advertised as “all-natural.”
Hsu had endorsed the products on TV, and her husband, Mike Xu (許雅鈞), held company shares.
The foundation said the company’s image of “natural and healthy” products was a sham.
The foundation added that its suit was in part to ensure the rights of consumers in Taipei, and in part, a request from the Taipei City Government.
Taipei City Ombudsman Pan Hung-cheng (潘宏政) said all involved in the suit had refused compensation offered by the company, adding that they had provided proof in the form of the original receipts, in the hopes of gaining justice.
Foundation secretary-general Lei Li-fen (雷立芬) said the consumer watchdog was asking for the recompense of the original funds spent during purchase, three times that in punitive penalties and an additional NT$20,000 per person in psychological damages.
The highest compensation sought was NT$82,000, followed by NT$75,000, Lei said.
Foundation lawyer Chen Ya-ping (陳雅萍) said Hsu was named in the suit because her claims led customers to the stores.
In many events where the press was present, Dee Hsu “had spared no efforts in promoting the products of Top Pot Bakery,” claiming “it was 100 percent natural with no artificial additives and healthy,” Chen said.
Although she said she got no money for her endorsements, Chen said Hsu had known that they might have led others to wrong conclusions about the products.
She should be responsible for abusing the trust that consumers have in her as she used her fame as a celebrity to promote products of a company, Chen added.