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Fair Go Episode 31: October 27

Published: 2:38PM Thursday October 28, 2004

In 2004 following a surprise discovery in a school experiment Pakuranga College students Anna Devathasan and Jenny Suo found that ready-to-drink Ribena contained almost no trace of vitamin C.

The girls came to Fair Go with their information but GlaxoSmithKline said its advertising has appeared worldwide for more than a decade and all Ribena products boldly highlight the correct vitamin C content.

However Larraine Barton from the science faculty at Pakuranga College was impressed with what the students had discovered and encouraged them to take it further.

The students went to the Commerce Commission and that led to the company being prosecuted for misleading the public about Ribena.

Then last week in Australia, GSK admitted it may have misled consumers and promised to do better in future.

"In terms of remorse, GSK has on a number of occasions expressed its regret to the Commission and now does so in open court," GSK lawyer Adam Ross said.

The company must pay $227,500 after admitting its advertisements misled the public about the drink's vitamin C content.  It pleaded guilty to 15 charges of breaching the Fair Trading Act and must also take out corrective advertising in newspapers.

Ready-to-drink packaging no longer refers to vitamin C content, and retail experts say recent publicity will damage Ribena's reputation.

Check out the original story - A matter of juice (video attached)
Reporter: Jacquie Hudson

Two budding scientists  at Pakuranga College, Jenny Suo and Anna Devanthasan wanted to find out how good the Vitamin C content of different juices were.

The Method
They chose 8 different juices including Simply squeezed, Just Juice, G-Force, Pacer, Fresh-up, Ribena, Arano, Signature Range Orange. They performed a well known method of using iodine to show how much Vitamin C there was in the juices.

The Results per 100mls

Just Juice   72.9 mg
G Force    63.54mg
SR Orange   52.84mg
Arano    46.82mg
Freshup    45.81mg
Simply Squeezed   37.29mg
Ribena ( in carton)  22.24mg
Pacer       0.55mg

Well top results for vitamin C went to Just Juice Orange and Mango.But Ribena didn't have the Vitamin C that the girls expected. Why?...well Anna and Jenny point to Ribena's advertisements . They say 'the blackcurrants in Ribena have four times the amount of Vitamin C of oranges'.

So they sent a letter to the owners of Ribena, GlaxoSmith Kline and followed it up with an email... but a month later still no reply. So they called Ribena head Office in New Zealand who weren't too helpful. They called again and were put through to the Australian head office who said they had been testing the wrong product...only the concentrate has 4 times the Vitamin C of oranges. Not giving up they gave it one more shot but couldn't get any further information.

While Ribena wasn't keen to discuss Jenny and Anna's work, others were very happy with it. The pair won second prize at the Manukau Science and Technology Fair, in the Pure and Applied Chemistry section!

On the diluted Ribena in a carton that Anna and Jenny tested it says  "the blackcurrants in Ribena contain four times the Vitamin C of Oranges".

That could make you think it contains four times the amount of Vitamin C than Orange juice.

Fair Go contacted GlaxoSmithKline the owners of Ribena:

Ribena's Response
The claim "black currants in Ribena contain four times the Vitamin C of Oranges" is correct and relates to blackcurrants and oranges in their natural fruit state.This is a claim applicable to all Ribena products not just concentrate.We make no comparison to juices, fruit drinks or any other pre-packaged drink product.The advertising statement has appeared as part of Ribena advertising world wide for more than a decade.All Ribena products boldly highlight the actual and correct Vitamin C content as required by law. We sincerely apologise for the way in which Anna and Jenny's complaint was dealt with.

Flaking Colorsteel roofs
Reporter: Greg Boyed

Four different owners... four different locations but the same problem... with the same coloured roof.

Colorsteel make and market a product called Karaka Green and to the four people involved & that colour has become the bain of their life.

Guy Banhidi's implement shed in Whitianga has a Karaka Green roof that came with the shed in 1997 it's looking severely mottled with the colour coating flaking off.

Gay Mohi's Ngaruawahia home has the same product (it was installed in 1995) on it's roof and it now has the same flaking appearance.

Peter Niddrie's garage in Panmure is just the same .. Karaka Green (it was installed in 1996)  with flakes falling off all over the place.

Karen and Stuart Paterson's home in Whangarei has a colour called Permanent Green it's also a Colorsteel product and it's also starting to flake.Their roof was put on in 1997.

But while all the roofs aren't doing what they're meant to do, they all have a fifteen year guarantee and are all still within that guarantee period. All the owners say the warranty on the roof states that the roofs will be replaced or painted if they aren't up to scratch within that period.

New Zealand Steel did offer to re-paint the affected roofs and in one case talked of replacing a roof.

But our consumers say that's not good enough, they paid for Colorsteel and they don't want a roof that is repaired with paint. All four roof owners told New Zealand Steel they don't want a repaint.

After Fair Go got in touch all four complainants were called by New Zealand Steel and told they would have their roofs replaced.

New Zealand Steel admits there have been some aspects of their dealings with their customers that they can improve on. NZ Steel admits there was a fault with the product going back 7-8 years...and that fault was quickly fixed. They say the amount of unhappy customers amounts to less than five percent of their total customer base.

Credit card scam
Reporter: Simon Mercep

Judy Pittman of Nelson knows her way around the internet. She knew she'd struck trouble when she twice visited established websites to place credit card orders, only to find a note popped up on her screen telling her the transaction had failed. The note asked her to provide the pin code for her credit card. Judy knew never to give that number out, and when she contacted the companies concerned she was advised that they did not require this information.

So somehow, someone else had infected her computer.

Peter Macaulay of watchdog group Internet NZ told Fair Go that Judy's computer had indeed become corrupted, probably because she'dy picked up a virus while on another site. She'd been targetted by scammers who wanted to use her financial information to make money or onsell products in Judy's name.

Peter says even though Judy hadn't replied to the request for her pin code, the fact that the box popped up at all meant that the scammers already had her credit card  details.
Fair Go asked what good a pin number would be to the scammers, when they didn't have the card to go with it. Peter said the scammers could  easily manufacture a whole new card, and attach Judy's pin number to it.

Peter's advice:
Make sure your computer has a firewall.
Install up to date anti virus software.
Being the most popular system, Microsoft Windows is the most targetted, so make sure your security software is up to date.
If you need further help, contact your internet service provider.
And the website contains useful advice.
The most important message: don't give out your pin number under any circumstances, and be wary of any request for personal financial information received.

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