As illustrated on an ongoing basis, the moderators on SST act with conviction when confronted with evidence of source’s wrongdoing. In recent weeks we took time to respond to potential issues with the Canadian source Pareto Pharmaceuticals. Through the course of our investigation we identified 3 primary concerns, the combination of which we believed to warrant a ban. Those 3 concerns were as follows:
- Overwhelming evidence of shilling, including using proxy generated accounts to unduly increase the reputation of the source.
- Altering of 3rd party analytical results in order to unduly add to the positive reputation of the source’s products.
- Failure to address the initial 3rd party analytical results which indicated a dosing inaccuracy of 50% (10mg). This level of inaccurate dosing is simply not unacceptable from a public safety perspective.
In light of the above, we chose to ban the source. When a source is banned from SST, it is rare that they reach out to discuss further. In this situation, the owner of Pareto did reach out to attempt to open a dialogue. He responded to the above claims as follows:
- Pareto Pharmaceuticals employs “reps” to sell their products. This is common, particular in Canada. The rep, motivated to make as many sales as possible in a commission-based role, saw an opportunity to increase his thread traffic and therefore sales through the use of a promotion which encouraged users who had accounts, but did not post, to make first posts, usually in complementary fashion towards Pareto. With evidence of this promotion, we were able to validate this claim. The rep offered $500 to the best “stovetop picture” and review, to be drawn at pseudo random by the end of the year. This explanation, paired with our user data, appears valid.
- The altering of the 3rd party results in order to hide the difference in dose between tabs was performed by the head of the operation. The justification for this action is that “heavy tabs” are were a known problem believed to have been solved after the tested batch had already been sold. We do not agree with this decision but recognize the following mitigating factors:
- The original, unedited test was submitted to SST
- The edited test was submitted to a single forum, alongside a myriad of other, unedited tests, ordered by the head of the operation in order to verify quality.
- The head of Pareto gave a detailed public response as to how the “heavy tab” and tab variation can occur. He described the equipment used in his operation and how an error can occur, as well as how quality control can and has been improved in order to prevent this moving forward. Additionally, upon our asking, he was able to validate his claims and show the moderators the equipment he claimed to use.
In light of the above, the moderator team has had to revisit its primary goal. We continuously seek to ensure that our members have high quality sources available to them. Sources who take care and invest time, money, and effort into providing the best quality products to their customers. While the concerns we had with Pareto were significant, it is evident to us at this time that Pareto is going to extraordinary efforts to right any wrongs. As such, we have decided to allow Pareto to return to SST. We will continue to monitor the rep and keep in close contact with the head of the operation in order to protect the end users on SST.
We will leave this thread open for record and resume the Pareto thread in the next few days.