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November 3, 2012

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Seniors warned about dubious health products

SENIORS have been warned to be vigilant about health products as they tend to be more easily convinced into buying useless tonics and medical apparatus that they don't need.

A survey conducted by the country's consumer rights watchdog found nearly 30 percent of seniors were lured to attend so-called free health seminars. Of these, more than 60 percent bought the tonics or medical apparatus recommended at the event. However, over half of the customers later said they felt cheated.

The survey interviewed 8,037 elderly residents nationwide.

Shanghai's consumer protection commission said it received 346 complaints regarding tonics sold in the city in the first 10 months of this year.

The commission said it has conducted a number of campaigns to raise awareness about such scams.

A former worker in the industry, surnamed Huang, said free trials and lectures were used as tricks to attract seniors and gain their trust.

Huang said he had worked for five years selling tonics and other medical-related items to seniors.

He said it usually started with chatting with seniors while they are doing morning exercises in parks. They are then invited to shops for free health checks, but are asked to pay a deposit, which is refunded if they visit the shop five times within a week. Huang said this gives them time to promote the tonics.

Finally, free activities such as health seminars and visits will be organized with "patients" and "medical experts" who tout the benefits of the products. Many seniors believe the claims and buy the items.


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