When we start to lose our hair, some of us hardly notice. The thinning is gradual, therefore not noticeable, until it becomes all too obvious. When friends start to comment, we begin to take a closer look in the mirror. Thoughts about hair-loss surface, and we become interested in any advertisement, brochure, or story about the topic.
Over time, I began to notice more of IHRB’s ads in newspapers and magazines. The bold claims seems irresistible. Gullible consumers (of which I was one) tend to read headlines at face value. Sam Cohen’s ads often say, ‘Regrow more of your own hair or your money back… guaranteed’. Now, with the benefit of a bad experience, I am able to read this statement with a greater sense of curiosity.
[UPDATE: The Complaints Resolution Panel has found IHRB’s ads to be misleading, deceptive, and unverified. Read the Sanctions in the Determination .]
I do not know if IHRB has the best lawyers in town, or if it has the best copywriters in Sydney. With the same breath, I wonder if IHRB has the sloppiest writers and the laziest advisers. You see, that headline is either a work of genius or just shoddy penmanship. I really do not know which it is, because I am at a loss. I would not normally care so deeply about such things, if it were not for the fact that I have been investigating this company for the past several months, and during this long period of intense investigation, I have been amazed that this company can get away with such questionable conduct (which I will outline on this site in due course).
Let us look at the choice of words:
REGROW: Why say ‘regrow’ as opposed to ‘grow’? Why not say, ‘Grow more or your own hair…’? The prefix is significant because it alludes to getting something back. The ‘re’ suggests that we can do something once again, after it had stopped happening. A bald or balding person would have lost the follicle. Healthy people lose hair very day, and they grow hair every day. Even someone like me, who is thinning on top, still cycles through hair loss and hair growth, but I would lose more than I would grow. So the average person loses and grows hair all the time. When IHRB emphasises ‘re-grow’ he is admitting that growth had stopped; it had ceased to function. For example, we re-start an engine that had conked out. We re-cover stolen money. We bring back what was no longer present. With these points in mind, I would suggest that this ad is sloppy, because this first word is in the client’s favour. I doubt that Sam Cohen would have wanted to leave himself exposed like this. This word does expose him, because it admits that his treatment is designed to bring back what was once gone. We can see below that Sam says, ‘Dead hair roots can not be regrown’. So dead roots cannot be re-grown. Then what is he promising to re-grow? Non-dead hair roots? Oh, careful here, because we are about to void the guarantee. If your treatment does not work, he will refuse to refund your money, because he will say that his guarantee was only ever valid for non-dead roots. So he promises to re-grow more of your own hair, but if he should fail, he will say that your hair did not grow because the root was dead. If we go along with this cleverly-crafted guarantee, we have to ask, how does he prove which root was dead and which was not dead? It seems that he is claiming to be infallible. He is saying that if your non-dead roots are treated with his formula, they will re-grow. And if they do not, he will give you a refund. But if they do not grow, he will claim that they were dead. Who can prove what was alive and what was dead? When I went to see him, Sam just looked at my head, touched my hair with his cigarette stained fingers (and asked me if I did mind if he smoked in the office which reeked of tobacco, with an ashtray on his desk). Sam just had a quick five-second look at my hair. No instruments, no magnifying glass, no tests, no medical procedure. So how did he determine which was dead and which was not? Stay tuned about this doozie of a twist in another article.
This subtle observation will become a major point later on this site, as I explain some horrifying discoveries about this company’s conduct. Just keep it in mind. Sadly, there is so much to uncover that I need to keep each topic separate, lest each article turns into a book.
MORE: A simple word that plays on human greed. We all want more. More is good. But in this instance, what is IHRB promising? More than what? This is also another nail in Sam’s argument because it is admitting that people do grow hair, and can/could/might grow hair either naturally (as a result of better health, good food, and less stress) or as a result of some of the many medications freely available on the market. So when the ad promises more, it is acknowledging that some hair can be grown, but IHRB can give you more. This is significant because in my case, I did not see any benefit whatsoever. My thinning became worse. Yet, Sam would look at my scalp and say, I can see a great improvement. I can see this hair has grown. It was all fanciful nonsense and I have photos to prove it to you later. But he kept insisting that some hair had grown. Even if a few strands had grown, what about the dozens more that disappeared? I was going backwards? How can that be an improvement? Yet he would focus on one strand and say, look, this has grown. I never could see what he was talking about, and he never counted anything. It was all like reading tea-leaves. But even if we humour him and say okay, three baby strands have grown here, we have to revert to this promise of MORE. He is saying that he can grow more. More than what? Who is counting? What scientific and mathematic methods is he using? None wheresoever. I will details his clever camera techniques later. For now, if the second word in the ad promises more, we need to ask, more than what? And how much more? And who is counting?
OWN: This is one of those funny expressions. It’s like when people say, ‘You can do this from the comfort of your own home’, and my first reaction is wonder in whose home, other than mine, could I otherwise do it? Or when people say, ‘I saw it with my own eyes’. Could they see it with anyone else’s eyes? I suspect that in this case, IHRB is keen to emphasis that it does not stick wigs on your head. It does not implant other people’s hair on your head. This is of no significance to us, but a bugbear of Sam’s. He had often complained to me about his competitors who placed misleading ads that promised hair, which turned out to be a wig. Sam had gloated about being the man who heroically forced a Melbourne-based competitor out of business. Sam’s colour laser printer was always churning away, every time I visited him. He would present me with his ‘hot off the press’ printouts like a grandma eagerly hands out the piping hot cookies. ‘Here, look at this,’ he would say, thrusting damning reports about Shane Warne and his competitors. Sam knew that I was technically minded, and he would often ask me to help him with his computer. ‘How can I play a video file from Channel Nine’, he would say, while holding a disk or while trying to download a current affairs show. He loved sharing all the dirt and muck about his industry. Click here to download a PDF  that shows some of the many printouts that Sam gave me.
GUARANTEED: I wonder what this word means. Before I went in to meet Sam, I phoned and asked for their terms and conditions, which I read, and which I will highlight in another article. After reading his fine print, I phone him to speak about my condition, and he was off like a rocket. He kept emphasising how he is the only person who offers a 100% money-back guarantee. He said that no doctor and no competitor dares to make this offer. He waxed lyrical about this to such a degree that I had to ask him, ‘How many people have taken you up on that guarantee?’ Sam replied, ‘You are asking me the wrong question’. So I rephrased the question and asked, ‘How many refunds have you had to process?’ He was gleeful in his retort, insisting that I was asking the wrong question.
Not being one to get sucked into these pregnant pauses, and not falling for his magnetic pull that would force me to ask, ‘Why?’ I remained silent. So he jumped in with, ‘You should ask me what my success rate is.’ Again, I did not take the bait, because I dislike that style of selling. So he persisted, ‘Go on, ask me what my success rate is!’ So I humoured him. And he bounced back with, ‘130%’. And he asked me to ask him how that could be, and so he went on to explain that he has never failed, and not only has he never failed, he has helped people whom he did not want to help. He said that people have begged him to help them, and he had categorically told them that he can’t. He had told them that it was impossible, and that they should save their money and go home. ‘But’, he added,’ they insisted that I treat them, knowing full well that I cannot offer them any guarantee, and sure enough, even those hopeless cases produced results’.
May I pause for a moment and emphasis once more that this story I am sharing with you might seem long and unnecessary, but it is vital that you know this. Absolutely imperative that you pay attention to these tactics. What had transpired on that phone call was a rehearsed bulls-eye of a sales tactic that will later form part of the masterstroke that, if this were an Agatha Christie film, would form the ah-ha moment that nails the stunning conclusion. So hang in there and pay attention. I am not spinning a yarn to entertain you, but I am exposing the steps that later lead to an amazing business that managed to take $3,700 from me, for nothing at all, and not a person can do anything about it!
So let us start here. Please download this PDF  that contains some of Sam’s ads. Read each line carefully, and every warning that he is highlighting to you, I would like to point back at him and say that his own ad could well have been written by his competitors about him. This is the ironic comic relief. This is the sad, dark humour at this juncture. Sam tells us, via his web site and via his ads, that we should be very wary about what we hear and see!!! He uses three exclamation marks. And dear reader, indeed be very wary about every single word and statement that you read in his own ads, and consider them a warning to you, from Sam, about Sam!
Once you have done that, you can join me via another article on this site.
P.S. To better appreciate why I am scrutinising the words in the advertising, read this court document of a Mr Bliss who was 20 years old when he saw a TV ad for Advance Hair Studio of Parramatta. He paid over $7,000 and was later refused a refund when the treatment did not work. Although this case does not involve IHRB, it is useful to observe how matters are argued during a Tribunal Hearing (CTTT), and how Applicants and Respondents rely on certain words. I found this case amazing because Advance Hair Studio offers a guarantee, but in its contract, it says, ‘…In signing this Contract, the Customer acknowledges that he has been informed that: a) Some users of Advance Laser Therapy will not experience regrowth, or will experience minimal hair regrowth only…’. Note that this has nothing to do with IHRB except that Sam Cohen’s argument with me about why he would not refund my money went along these lines, which I will explain in great detail elsewhere. Meanwhile, the interesting thing about this case is that Advance Hair Studio was promising a full head of hair. So it attracted young Mr Bliss with a promise of a full head of hair, or your money back, but when he asked for his money back, the Tribunal document notes, ‘The Respondent denies liability entirely. It relies on a term of its contract with the Applicant, in which the Applicant acknowledged that some users of the Respondent’s Advanced Laser Therapy will not experience hair regrowth, or will experience minimal hair regrowth only.’ What a twist of words. Anyway, this just demonstrates to you why every word is important, whether it be uttered in an ad or in a contract. You can read the full court extract here as a PDF .