Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Buyer Beware: The Conservatorie Followup

The Conservatorie sent out a mass email today and updated their Facebook page addressing concern about their warranty statement and the mislabeling issue. I was forwarded the email by several people and am publishing it in full, edited only to remove personally identifying information of the recipient and the direct link to The Conservatorie site.

Date: Wed, 4 May 2011 03:07:40 -0500
To: redacted
Subject: Product Warranties and Mislabeling

Date:  May 4, 2011
From:  Katie Voquy (Owner- The Conservatorie, Inc)
To:  The Conservatorie community

There have been some questions lately about a policy specifying that our products are sold for personal use only.  We have never stated that it is for “personal use only” anywhere on  We have and have always stated that “The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. Although the information at this website is presented in good faith and believed to be correct, The Conservatorie makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Use of this site and the information therein is at the user's sole risk”

We make no warranties on products not produced directly by The Conservatorie for this reason:
Any product ordered direct from a manufacturer is always accompanied with a Certificate of Analysis, as required by the FDA.  Once we open that batch to break down into smaller, more manageable sizes for our customers, that certificate is no longer valid, and can only be warrantied if it is recertified by an independent lab – a cost prohibitive option for those who are purchasing a few ounces of an item.  Because we are selling you a product without a valid Certificate of Analysis, we cannot warranty the ingredient; should you use for resale, we will not be held liable should there ever be an issue with a product you’ve created.  For those who do want a Certificate of Analysis and backed with our warranty, these can be provided for an extra charge to cover the re-certification with a minimum purchase of 500 grams. 

We will be happy to provide the MSDS for any product we sell upon request.  If you’re unsure if a particular ingredient is the same as another from another company, please feel free to ask - we will be happy to provide you with the name of the supplier and any corresponding trademarked name to prevent you from accidentally ordering duplicates.

Any product produced by The Conservatorie (including private label) in our lab is certified and is 100% warrantied with no fee for the certification on purchases of 500 grams or more. Products directly manufactured by us will be marked as a “TC Exclusive” product.  You may buy any “TC Exclusive” material with the assurance that they are covered by guarantees and warranties without having to pay for a recertification fee.

Lastly, we apologize for the delay in making the public aware of the changes we made in the information provided on our labels and on our website.  This delay is partly due to the time-consuming process in obtaining the correct information before sharing them to our customers and the public.  With assistance of information obtained from the FDA, we will address the rules and regulations in the latter portion of this response.  To set the records straight, all product information prior to Oct 2010 and after March 20, 2011 are, in fact, correct.  Since Oct 2010, we have switched suppliers and have been updating our website to reflect that.  Along the way, we have failed to keep our product information and labeling updated.  We understand that this has had negative effects to our customers’ businesses, and we sincerely apologize.  We have taken corrective measures to share this burden with our customers, and for those that have contacted us, we have either refunded or replaced the items in question.  For those who have purchased any mislabeled product(s) from The Conservatorie between October 2010 and March 2011, we will be glad to work with you.  Please contact our customer service department during working hours (8 am – 5 pm, PST) Monday to Friday at 1-877- 998-2462 for assistance.
Best Regards,

Katie Voquy
Owner & CEO
The Conservatorie, Inc
10955 Arrow Route Suite 103
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
(909) 989-1888

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Thank you
Please note that as of the publication of this post this announcement is nowhere to be found on The Conservatorie site.

While it is admirable that The Conservatorie is now being forthcoming regarding the mislabeling issue, as someone who was personally affected by both of these recalls as a consumer I can tell you that the information they are now releasing is not altogether correct.

The RockABetty Beauty recall occurred on or around January 19, 2011. That was the date I personally contacted RABB regarding some of my shades with glitter after seeing the recall notice. At that point TC had already been in contact with RABB and indicated that these glitters were not eye approved, despite being sold as such, which resulted in the RABB recall. In the case of the glitter TC knew the product was mislabeled three months ago but did not make anyone aware about the glitters safe use. As the company was demonstrably aware there was an issue with the use of the glitters to the point that the site was updated with that information there should have been no delay in notification. The company knew and their customers should have been informed in a much more timely manner.

The Morgana Cryptoria lipstick recall occurred on 3/17/2011. The issues with mislabeling that impacted MC were that the ingredients that were sold were either not safe for lip use in the United States, or were not vegan. As these products were sold as vegan lipsticks the labeling change had a detrimental effect on the business, causing the recall of nine shades of lipstick. When these ingredients were originally purchased carmine, chromium oxide green, and ferric ferrocyanide were not listed by The Conservatorie. It was only due to the diligence of MC in researching prior to reordering that the formulator discovered the change. These changes were on the TC site at least a month and a half ago but again, no effort was made to announce the change on their site (except to update the product excel sheet) or via contact with their customers until today.

Additionally, there is this:
We have taken corrective measures to share this burden with our customers, and for those that have contacted us, we have either refunded or replaced the items in question.
Though The Conservatorie initially worked with Morgana Cryptoria a refund request as it relates to the mislabeling issue made a few weeks ago was denied, citing the "at your own risk" policies shown in the email sent today.This refund denial runs counter to TC assertion today that they have either refunded or replaced the items.

I cannot speak as to the personal use issue. As stated in my previous post there was no official word as to why The Conservatorie did not make these changes more readily accessible to the public.

In sum, while it appears The Conservatorie is making strides in correcting the mislabeling issue, at least in terms of publicity, it can be shown that they were well aware of the issue at least three months ago and that whatever delay in announcing it today was not due to obtaining the correct information, as they had updated their site with that information during that period. The company knew, made the changes, but did nothing to notify their customers so they could make an informed decision until it was announced publicly by a third party. Even then it took The Conservatorie sixteen days to formulate this announcement, an announcement that is still not listed on their site, and, as in the case of Morgana Cryptoria, the information regarding refunds and replacement is not correct.

5/5/11 ETA: I published in this post that the mislabeling issue was addressed on 5/4/11 via email and The Conservatorie Facebook page. I was remiss in posting this information. The mislabeling issue was not addressed or announced on the Facebook page. It is still not currently on The Conservatorie site either. The only announcement of the mislabeling issue was via email.

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