05/01/2012 09:53 am ET

Conair Mislabels Product, Causes Consumer To Have Allergic Reaction

Sometimes, misleading marketing is annoying. Other times it's downright dangerous.

In March, Cristina Nathan-McAlister, 39, paid a hair stylist $100 to weave her hair in tiny braids. Because she is allergic to latex, Cristina asked to use hair bands she'd bought specifically because they were advertised as silicone. Nonetheless, within days of getting her hair braided, her scalp felt like it was on fire, and she had to have the braids removed.

Turns out, the bands weren't entirely silicone. Rather, in small print on the back of the package, there was this warning: "Caution: This product contains natural rubber latex, which may cause allergic reaction." Cristina's husband, Dore, frustrated by what he considered misleading packaging, contacted the Conair Corporation that manufactured the hairbands under its Scunci brand.

"There's a lot of people who are deathly allergic to latex," Dore told The Huffington Post. "I don't see what the corporate advantage is to saying these are silicone. Are they trying to sneak the latex past people to make an extra dollar? Or they don't care? Or are they just dumb?"

Dore sent three emails to Conair, and though he received an automated response assigning his inquiry a ticket, he never heard from an actual person. So he called customer service, twice. The first time the representative said she couldn't understand the problem, while the second time he was placed on hold for so long he eventually hung up in frustration, according to Dore.

"All I have ever wanted is to talk to someone in marketing to ask why they label the product this way," Dore said. "People with latex sensitivities would gladly pay a higher price for a product that won’t make them sick, but it appears to me that they are being sneaky or deceptive for no reason."

"This is definitely unfortunate," said Laurence Borrione, a spokeswoman for Conair, in an interview with The Huffington Post. "I'm really sad this happened and we are investigating the problem."

In the mean time, Dore said he'd like to see the package relabeled to better reflect the latex component. He also said he is considering a small claims lawsuit to force Conair to pay attention to his concerns.

"I do technical support and customer service for a major laboratory equipment manufacturer," Dore said, "and I would be fired if I let a customer issue go unanswered like this issue with Scunci."

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