Too many false ‘natural’ labels
The website ClassActionRebates.com is a handy platform for consumers to check out whether they are eligible for rebates that come as the result of class action lawsuits. Consumers can electronically file claims for everything from a $10,000 rebate for their Porsche 911 & Boxter (2001-05) Intermediate Shaft Failure to a “close to useless” voucher for 10-15% off Gerbers Childrenswear.
A reader named Mey pointed me toward the site and what immediately struck me was the significant number of food company class action settlements and claims — all of which are over false ‘natural’ label claims. In fact, the home page of ClassActionRebates.com lists 24 current class action settlements/claims and five — 21% — are for false ‘natural’ labels on food products. The next most represented category, automobiles, only had three — 12.5% — claims two of those were from the same manufacturer.
I was stunned but not surprised. Class action suits against food manufacturers for false ‘natural’ labeling are on the rise. Evidence would suggest that this is a consumer-driven market mechanism that will serve to fill the regulatory gap that now exists because the FDA and FTC will not police the term ‘natural‘ on our food.
‘We make getting class action rebates easier for consumers.’
According to a letter posted on the site from Gajan Retnasaba, founder of ClassActionRebates.com:
Class Action Lawsuits are supposed to be the great equalizer in the U.S. Legal system, letting individuals who were wronged band together to take on big companies. Class actions give consumers power to hold companies accountable for unlawful activities and are an important check-and-balance in our legal system. But one growing problem in the class action system is that even though consumers are winning big cases, with settlements topping $10 billion in 2012, most victims never get compensated.
Retnasaba goes on to explain that three things prevent consumers from getting their compensation.
- Settlements are poorly publicized;
- Directions are complex and poorly written and therefore filing is difficult and time consuming;
- “There is no interactivity, so if you need help you are basically out of luck.”
In a moment of clarity and unusual honesty, Retnasaba states:
… consumers are denied the opportunity to participate in the process and so the class action system has become run by lawyers, for lawyers.
ClassActionRebates.com addresses these problems by creating awareness, reducing complexity, and creating interactivity. At a glance consumers can see a list of open class action rebates, what the settlement provides, filing requirements, how long it takes to file, and a link to the claim form.
What I love about ClassActionRebates.com is that it seeks to put the class back in class action. If class action is going to be the driver of change in false ‘natural’ labeling, more consumers need to feel the process benefits someone other than the lawyers. In this way, ClassActionRebates.com is an important change agent in the fight.
You can subscribe to the ClassActionRebates.com newsletter to receive news of new settlements once a month. I suggest you do so and then pass it on.
Note: I’d like to thank reader, Mey, for pointing me toward ClassActionRebates.com