UK Government orders rogue supplement firm to shut as clampdown continues

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

The UK Government’s clampdown on rogue health supplement firms scored a victory in the High Court as a company was ordered into liquidation after taking advantage of elderly and vulnerable customers.

UK-based Vivid Lifestyle Ltd (Vivid) was at the centre of investigations by the Insolvency Service following complaints by customers, who were misled as to the worth and likely effects of tablets sold to them at huge mark ups.

Vivid, based in Hounslow, West London, were guilty of using highly pressurised and persistent sales practices and techniques, including medically unqualified telesales callers making false claims.

District Judge Matharu said that Vivid’s manner of procuring business and payment was “quite disgusting”​, adding, “there is layer upon layer of taking advantage of those most least able or prepared to deal with the nature of the communications“.

The court also heard that Vivid 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 in order to be rid of the callers.

High Court Business and Property Court order

DJ Matharu made an order placing the company into compulsory liquidation as Vivid were ordered to wind up operations by the High Court Business and Property Courts at the hearing on 29 August 2018 in which no company representatives were present.

Company records list Mr Soriyano Dsouza and Mr Ramakant Lal as directors for the firm, which started trading in 2014, selling nutritional supplement tablets wholly to UK customers.

By 2017, the firm broadened its operations to international markets expanding its reach to customers based in Australia and New Zealand.

In the same year, Vivid’s turnover, exceeded €1.1m (£1m), with a reported gross profit margin of 91.4%, co-ordinating sales activities between a telesales centre in India and a distribution centre in Reading.

In addition to Vivid, the Insolvency Service has wound up nine other health supplement companies in the public interest since 2016.

Insolvency Service investigations

The cases are similar after investigations found the elderly and vulnerable were tricked into unnecessarily buying their products.

NutraIngredients has previously reported​​​ on an investigation by the Service back in January 2017, in which Souza Healthcare, a London-based company were instructed by the UK High Court to cease trading.

Elbon Wellbeing Ltd, another UK-based company, were ordered to cease trading after they too made false and misleading claims that led elderly and vulnerable customers to purchase health supplements.

The Service has compiled details of other firms carrying out unscrupulous sales techniques on its Health Supplements Scam microsite​.​

“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,”​ said investigation supervisor Irshard Mohammed, of the Insolvency Service. “We will continue to do so.”

“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.”

The microsite also revealed the business practices of UK-based Healthspring Wellness Product Ltd, who contracted a call centre in Mumbai to sell health supplements on their behalf.

The call centre was accused of using aggressive sales tactics and distributing false medical advice, targeting individuals aged 55 and over, who were housebound or had difficulty in getting to the shops.

The firm was wound up in the public interest in the high court in November 2017.

The activities of the registered director, Vidjan Wasta, were also investigated and as of 18 April 2018, Wasta has been disqualified from running companies for 11 years.

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