Over one hundred years ago, a company in England came up with the ‘Carbolic Smoke Ball’ a flu cure. This was during the first great outbreak between 1898 and 1900. This product was a total scam. It didn’t work in any sense. Those consumers who used the product yet still got influenza complained. They were told that they ‘hadn’t used it right’, (similar to the ‘You Broke The Rules’ proclamation when a site doesn’t want to pay you).
One Mrs. Carlill, who happened to be married to a solicitor, used the product according to the instructions, yet got influenza. She took the company to Court. Previously, the Judicature refused to waste time on hearing cases brought by people they considered idiots; the reason was that “there is no law against stupidity.”
The Court agreed to hear this case. It may be because of the status of Mr. Carlill or the fact they had decided to rule on fraudulent claims.
The Court heard the evidence, on both sides, and ruled there was a Contract between those who used the Smoke Ball and the Company. The Company had breached the Contract.
The matter was taken to the Court of Appeal, which affirmed the decision.
Since then, there have been other such scams, but Consumer Protection Organisations and Fraud Squads have taken action which prevents the Court from becoming involved.
One would think that people would have become more intelligent over the intervening one hundred years. That they would be a bit more cautious before spending money on items which may not work or may be harmful.
There are people who swear by all sorts of ridiculous products. Products you see advertised on the Internet every day, from diet aids to hair growers.
People all over the world have flocked to ‘Health Clinics’. Some years ago a product called Laetrile which is made out of apricot seeds was touted as a Cancer cure. It didn’t work at all. In fact, people have died because they ceased taking the medications prescribed by physicians.
More recently a product called ‘Colloidal Silver’ has been pushed as a ‘cure all’. Not only is the product likely to cause your skin to permanently turn blue, but it may also cause serious allergic reactions.
In most First World Countries the law suits stop the sales. Just as in 1899 with the Smoke Ball so too in 1999.
In Third World Countries, where the laws and enforcement are not as strong, Scammers get over by appealing to the stupider side of the consumer.
“Oh, that’s because it doesn’t work on White People!” “Its banned in Europe because it competes with their big drug companies!” “Oh they don’t want you to have it…”
The citizens of Third World Countries have been fed variations on this theme for decades. It is how the local despots and corrupt politicians hold power. It is how dangerous or simply useless products empty bank accounts of those least able to afford it.
The fact lawsuits were successfully brought in countries as New Zealand does not impact on the mind of a Scammer pushing the product in Jamaica.
Often, the Distribution finds a local, fills his head with pseudo-science, and puts him in the front. When the law suits arrive, the Distributor is a thousand miles away; the local is in the dock.
As it has already been written, There is No Law Against Stupidity