Friday, May 6, 2011

Others Experiences- Fundraiser Followup: Michigan Attorney General

I have posted previously about GlitterSniffer Cosmetics fundraiser for Christie Brooks' father, held in December 2010.

Briefly, the fundraiser was held after a devastating fire which resulted in a complete loss of all possessions by Christie's father. Despite promises that the money had been sent, then the further admission that it had not and an attempt to remit the funds in March (the onus of which finding out how much was raised was placed on Christie) the funds still have not been received and Christie has had no further contact regarding the issue with proprietor Lela Warren, even after the stated intent to "make this right".

After four months and promises that the money had either been sent or was intending to be sent Christie Brooks today contacted the Michigan Attorney General at 517-373-1140.


Wanted to let you know I just got off the phone with the Michigan AG office. The lady I spoke with was so nice and when she asked me the name of the company I was calling about I told her GS, she sighed and said yeah i know that name well. She told me that there are 7 complaints formally filed with their office and several others that are being looked at. She told me that things are not looking good with this company and asked my situation. I explained it to her and she asked me if it could be recorded and if I minded repeating it for the recording so I did. She then stayed on the phone with me and walked me through the complaint form. She then told me that she is going to try to rush my complaint through the system because of the type of complaint it is. She also said that she will personally be getting a list together and mailing me of other agencies to contact that she is "utterly disgusted by the lack of morals that this woman has". She thanked me and said that I did the right thing by waiting and giving her every opportunity to follow through with turning the money over. They are very interested in any valid complaints that people may want to file.

The online complaint form Christie filled out may be found here

When the Michigan Radio NPR story was filed regarding GlitterSniffer Cosmetics on March 1, 2011 there were only 4 complaints filed. That number has now almost doubled. The Michigan AG facilitates mediation between consumers and businesses in an effort to resolve any complaints. They do not act as an attorney should the business fail to respond (as has been the outcome in at least two documented instances with GS, mine included), though it does appear that they have the legal standing to act in cases where an issue is pervasive, as per the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

The Michigan Attorney General also has information regarding several issues that may affect consumers in regards to GlitterSniffer Cosmetics, including Sudden Business Closure and redemption of paid Gift Cards and Gift Certificates.

GlitterSniffer Cosmetics Recall and the FDA Investigation-NYC

Another day, another visit from the FDA to a GlitterSniffer Cosmetics customer, this time in New York City. The recall letter was also shown during this visit as well.
 She gave me her business card and a copy of a letter that GS allegedly mailed to all there customers. I explained to her my brief experience with GS and what I have heard from others. I told her that my jars were not labeled, I had only placed one order back in 12/10, all randoms. I told the lady all the horror stories I've heard. I showed her the pigments I have. She said not to even bother using them as nail polish. The lady said they were randomly selecting customers from a list of everyone who has ordered GS.
The FDA Enforcement Report about the GS recall classifies it as Class II recall:
Class II recall: a situation in which use of or exposure to a violative product may cause temporary or medically reversible adverse health consequences or where the probability of serious adverse health consequences is remote.
According to Title 21: Section 7.40 there is a notification process that must be followed in a firm initiated recall situation. 

(a) General. A recalling firm is responsible for promptly notifying each of its affected direct accounts about the recall. The format, content, and extent of a recall communication should be commensurate with the hazard of the product being recalled and the strategy developed for that recall. In general terms, the purpose of a recall communication is to convey:
(1) That the product in question is subject to a recall.
(2) That further distribution or use of any remaining product should cease immediately.
(3) Where appropriate, that the direct account should in turn notify its customers who received the product about the recall.
(4) Instructions regarding what to do with the product.
(b) Implementation. A recall communication can be accomplished by telegrams, mailgrams, or first class letters conspicuously marked, preferably in bold red type, on the letter and the envelope:“drug[orfood, biologic,etc.]recall[orcorrection]”.The letter and the envelope should be also marked:“urgent”for class I and class II recalls and, when appropriate, for class III recalls. Telephone calls or other personal contacts should ordinarily be confirmed by one of the above methods and/or documented in an appropriate manner.
(c) Contents. (1) A recall communication should be written in accordance with the following guidelines:
(i) Be brief and to the point;
(ii) Identify clearly the product, size, lot number(s), code(s) or serial number(s) and any other pertinent descriptive information to enable accurate and immediate identification of the product;
(iii) Explain concisely the reason for the recall and the hazard involved, if any;
(iv) Provide specific instructions on what should be done with respect to the recalled products; and
(v) Provide a ready means for the recipient of the communication to report to the recalling firm whether it has any of the product, e.g., by sending a postage-paid, self-addressed postcard or by allowing the recipient to place a collect call to the recalling firm.
(2) The recall communication should not contain irrelevant qualifications, promotional materials, or any other statement that may detract from the message. Where necessary, followup communications should be sent to those who fail to respond to the initial recall communication.
(d) Responsibility of recipient. Consignees that receive a recall communication should immediately carry out the instructions set forth by the recalling firm and, where necessary, extend the recall to its consignees in accordance with paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section.
As an affected customer I can unequivocally state that I have never received a letter, mailgram, or telegram from the company about the recall. To date, not a single customer of GlitterSniffer Cosmetcis has come forward to verify that they received the notification from GS about the recall., despite the company's assertion to the FDA that the letters were sent on or about February 7, 2011.

The FDA's role in a firm initiated recall is to monitor compliance with the terms of the recall. It is not clear what actions, if any, the FDA will take if GlitterSniffer Cosmetics does not follow the outlined recall protocol, though Subpart C 7.40 does indicate that some further measures can be taken, including seizure, multiple seizure, or other court action when it is determined the recall is ineffective.

There is also Subpart E, a section covering Criminal Violations, but it is blank.


The FDA did update the Regulatory Procedures Manual this year, in particular The Park Doctrine. An explanation of The Park Doctrine, as outlined in the manual:
The Park Doctrine, as established by Supreme Court case law, provides that a responsible corporate official can be held liable for a first time misdemeanor (and possible subsequent felony) under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“the Act”) without proof that the corporate official acted with intent or even negligence, and even if such corporate official did not have any actual knowledge of, or participation in, the specific offense. A Park Doctrine prosecution...refers to a recommended prosecution of a responsible corporate official for a misdemeanor violation of the Act....Once a person has been convicted of a misdemeanor under the Act, any subsequent violation of the Act is a felony, even without proof that the defendant acted with the intent to defraud or mislead...In some cases, a misdemeanor conviction of an individual may serve as the basis for debarment by FDA.
 It should be noted that the FDA does not routinely recommend such cases for prosecution without consideration of other factors:
  1. Whether the violation involves actual or potential harm to the public;
  2. Whether the violation is obvious;
  3. Whether the violation reflects a pattern of illegal behavior and/or failure to heed prior warnings;
  4. Whether the violation is widespread;
  5. Whether the violation is serious;
  6. The quality of the legal and factual support for the proposed prosecution; and
  7. Whether the proposed prosecution is a prudent use of agency resources.
This is but one possible outcome of the current FDA investigation. At this point there is no clear indication that GlitterSniffer Cosmetics proprietor Lela Warren should or will be recommended for prosecution. The FDA could conclude that GS needs to simply send out the letters and continue on with no repercussion. Only time will tell what, if any, consequences the company will have to deal with pending the outcome of the FDA investigation.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Buyer Beware: The Conservatorie and the Personal Use Policy

This post is a followup to the two previous posts regarding The Consevatorie. These two posts were focused on the ingredient mislabeling issue, but did not address the "for personal use only" policy that was in question.

The Conservatorie sent an email on 5/4/11 and posted to their Facebook Info tab regarding the "for personal use only" policy. In regards to the "for personal use only" policy the email had this to say:


The email states that the "for personal use policy" was never on The Conservatorie site itself. This is true, as far as can be determined through searches of Google cache and The WayBack Machine.

 Here is the current information, taken from The Conservatorie Facebook Info tab as it appears right now:
Disclaimer:

The most common question we’ve been getting lately is about our "personal use" policy. There has never been any such policy; we do however, sell without warranties.
Cropped for the relevant "for personal use only" statement



If indeed this had never been a policy of TC then why did the Facebook Info tab show this information as late as 5/4/11?




The "for personal use only" policy that TC states they never had is clearly shown listed as a policy of the company. In a nutshell should TC state that the products they sell are "for personal use only" they can then release themselves from any liability should the ingredients be used in formulating products for resale and an issue arise with the use of those ingredients.

With the new policy/disclaimer the company states that there has never been a "for personal use only" policy, which can be shown to be incorrect. Couple this development with the mislabeling issue which the company was less than forthcoming about and one is left to wonder what, exactly, consumers can expect when purchasing from The Conservatorie.

Note: There is one thing I'd like to clear up from my previous post regarding the notification of the mislabeling issue. I published that the mislabeling 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 not currently on The Conservatorie site either. The only announcement of the mislabeling issue was via email. I regret the error and have updated the post to reflect this information.

GlitterSniffer Cosmetics Recall and the FDA Investigation

On March 23, 2011 the FDA released its enforcement report detailing the information provided to the agency regarding the recall by GlitterSniffer Cosmetics. As previously posted, there were concerns regarding that information, including questions about the letter notifications reportedly sent on or around February 7, 2011 to GS customers, the amount of recalled product that had been distributed, and the mascara that was also not approved that was not included in the recall. I contacted the FDA Office of the Ombudsman on April 20, 2011 to address these concerns and received a reply that the issue would be escalated.

On May 3, 2011 a poster to the Facebook page asked if anyone had been visited by the FDA regarding GlitterSniffer Cosmetics. The poster had a home visit from an FDA agent who was investigating the recall. Here is her story:
Yesterday a representative from the FDA showed up on my doorstep to interview me concerning the GS recall. I've never filed any complaints with any agencies, the only thing I ever did was contact Lela when word of the recall broke out. I was shown a badge and plus I got a card and contact number. He specifically stated he needed to interview me "concerning products I received from Glittersniffer Cosmetics".

He gave me a list of all the product that had been recalled and a photo of what the packaging looks like.

This is what he asked me:
How many items did I purchase from GS. 
How many items were included in the recall.
When did notification of the recall go out.
Did I know of any side effects due to use of the makeup, did I have any reactions.
Did I or anybody I know distribute ANY GS makeup.

My answers
I had close to 50 items
10 were part of the recall
I never received an email or message from GS, it was posted on the website and FB page. I learned about the recall probably the last week of November/first week of December.
I heard of people having reactions but I never had any.
I never distributed any GS makeup, and I got rid of any makeup that I owned that was a part of the recall.

He said they were interviewing people that were local to FDA offices concerning the recall. From what he could tell me they were following up and making sure people had been notified.
Below are photos of the business card and documents left with the poster. As has always been my practice I have removed personally identifying information from the business card as it identifies the agent by name along with contact information. It was a decision I struggled with but as he has not given me specific permission to release this information publicly I feel it best to err on the side of caution. I will state that research indicates he is indeed a Consumer Safety Officer with the FDA in California.


Detail from the packaging document
On May 4, 2011 a second GS customer was visited by the same FDA agent. Her story, edited to remove PII:
Basically he knocked on the door and said he had some questions about the glittersniffer recall. He showed me a recall letter and asked if I got one, I said no. I told him I seen it posted on her website though He asked how many I owned, I said around 230 GASP, he asked if I still had them, I said no. Some were dumped and some were sent to someone else. He asked if I had any reactions, I explained to him the blurred vision I experienced while using GS but wasnt sure if it was the makeup or migranes. He said he was there just to gather information about if GS followed the recall protocol. I told him the list of recalled pigments (the pinks) were not all that should be on there. ALL of them should be on there as she packed and made pigment in unsanitary conditions. He also said I should email him any information and gave me his direct number and email address. He also said they are randomly checking people and their information. redacted took a picture of me and him talking LOL. So I do plan to email him with any and all info that GS is still operating etc. His main concern was IF I had received the recall letter. I told him I never got one in the mail and am pretty sure did not get it through email either.
The Agent and the GS Customer

The second poster has offered to forward any information anyone may have to the agent. In my haste to publish I did not get her permission to release her contact information or name. If you have information germane to the GS situation that you would like forwarded to the FDA you may contact me at glittersniffercomplaints@gmail.com. Should I get permission to release her contact information I will update.

It's unknown at this point if this was a followup to the escalation I filed or if this is a routine followup by the FDA. The focus does seem to be on the handling of the recall by GS, specifically the letter that was supposed to have been sent to customers on or around February 7, 2011. 

There has been no indication that GlitterSnifferGlitterSniffer Cosmetics has been contacted again by the FDA.  We know that GS had to provide contact information for all of their past and current customers and it seems that this information is being used by the FDA to contact customers located near field offices about the recall notification. A complete list of FDA field offices may be located here.

I will continue to follow up as more information becomes available. Thank you to the two posters for sharing.

5/5/11 ETA: Completed the second to last paragraph, which disappeared in between my writing the post and publishing it.  My apologies for not catching this prior to publishing.

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
From: info@theconservatorie.com

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 www.theconservatorie.com.  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
http://theconservatorie.com/
http://www.facebook.com/theconservatorie
http://twitter.com/ConservatorieCo





To be unsubscribe click here :
redacted
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.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

GlitterSniffer Cosmetics Proprietor Lela Warren and the Case of the Brand New Facebook Account

I've posted a couple of times over the last few days about GlitterSniffer Cosmetics proprietor Lela Warren's seeming disregard for Facebook Terms of Use.

There is no need to use a qualifier any longer. In her own words, from her current personal Facebook account, dated January 10, 2010:


Lela's old Facebook account was deactivated for a violation of Facebook terms for selling on a personal page so she simply created a new one, another violation of Facebook terms

We know from past history that Lela isn't good with following terms and regulations with regard to the business decisions of GlitterSniffer Cosmetics, but one would think having just lost access to her Facebook account she would look said terms over before plowing ahead with creating a new account.

But let's give Lela the benefit of the doubt. The Facebook terms can be a bit confusing. 

Hard to understand, isn't it?







So, assuming that Lela was unaware of the terms about making a new account, it was still made quite clear that advertising and selling are not supposed to be taking place from a personal Facebook page, reinforced by the fact that Facebook deactivated her account. And yet...

January 29, 2010

April 2, 2010
April 5, 2010
April 7, 2010


April 26, 2010 (According to the official GS recall FAQ Working Girl was not associated with GS)


April 27, 2010
This entire collection was eventually recalled
May 29, 2010
June 1, 2010

June 2-September 20, 2010: There were various sales/ads during this time frame as well, but let's hop in the DeLorean and get back to the future.

September 21, 2010
Well, at least they were labeled.
September 27, 2010

September 29, 2010
September 30, 2010


October 5, 2010
October 11, 2010

October 17, 2010
November 18, 2010


November 19, 2010
November 25, 2010

 November 26, 2010-approximately February 7, 2011 GlitterSniffer Cosmetics pauses briefly due to the glittercaust.

February 8, 2010


February 17, 2011


March 6, 2011
March 7, 2011

March 18, 2011 A link to GlitterSniffer Bath and a post asking that the personal profile not be used for GS order info.


 April 10, 2011


April 11, 2011
April 14, 2011

April 17, 2011


April 18, 2011


Nineteen days after having her personal account disabled by Facebook for sales and advertising Lela again began selling and advertising from her personal page, an ongoing practice that continued up until at least April 18, 2011.

Trivial? Maybe. Nitpicky? Perhaps. But it also serves to show that it is demonstrably true that even when negative consequences like losing her other Facebook account occur Lela simply chooses to ignore whatever terms don't meet her personal needs and desires for her company and does what she wants without regard for the consequences of those actions. This does not bode well for the (once again) promised changes, nor for the future of GlitterSniffer Cosmetics, and that is due solely to the choices the company and its proprietor Lela Warren continue to make.

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