Catch me if you can

Catch me if you can

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Despite being told to stop publishing those unlawful, misleading, and unverified advertisements, IHRB has accelerated its claims through bolder statements that are worse than ever. What’s more amazing is that IHRB was told to publish retractions. Instead, IHRB plays a game of cat and mouse. Let’s review the latest ads that appeared in ‘Spectator’ magazine.

First, I am amazed that the publisher of ‘Spectator’, Mr Peter Stein, has permitted IHRB to advertise in his publication. I had extensive conversations with Mr Stein, and we exchanged lengthy emails. I had furnished Mr Stein with all the material to show that IHRB has been Sanctioned. Mr Stein was made aware that IHRB needs to publish retractions, and to cease and desist from making unlawful claims through ads that are misleading, while using testimonials that are unverified.

On Friday 20 July 2012, a full page ad in ‘Spectator’ broke all the rules. My favourite addition to IHRB’s statements is the line that says, ‘If we are unable to regrow your hair, you will be told and rejected at your first consultation.’ Presumably Mr Cohen came-up with that line (or at least he must have approved it). I wonder why his lawyer did not advise against it, because in my humble opinion, that new public statement is a legal noose. It is saying that if Sam Cohen cannot help you, he will turn you away. Whereas if he does take your money, it means that he can regrow your hair. So now his guarantee has taken a whole new legal twist, which I suspect he might soon regret. Mr Cohen has been at pains to explain how his guarantee works (or more accurately, why it never applies). He always finds a loophole and says that no client deserves a refund because Mr Cohen claims that he never promised to grow anyone’s hair. Click on this article for an explanation behind that mind-bender.

13 & 20 July 2012

In the ad below, we are told that if Sam Cohen agrees to take your money, he is able to regrow your hair. That will trip him up, because there have been some bemusing debates between IHRB and the Complaints Resolution Panel about the meaning of the word ‘guarantee’. Anyway, in this ad we also note that Ms Maree Azzopardi makes another appearance. When I interviewed her on 13 November 2011, Ms Azzopardi seemed distressed that Mr Sam Cohen would feature her face in his previous ads. Well, here she is again, praising Mr Cohen, when in fact, she is misguiding readers by not telling us what medications she took, how much she paid, and to what extent her success was due to taking non-approved medications which could impact upon her health. I think Ms Azzopardi was taking Finasteride or some such pills. If her body responded well to these medications, why did she need to purchase them from IHRB at exorbitant prices (mind you, I wonder if she received any special pricing in return for her testimonial).

IHRB ad in ‘Spectator’ 13 July and 20 July 2012 featuring Maree Azzopardi and Steve James whose testimonial is ten years old. One wonders what Mr James’ scalp looks like now, and which medications he took, and how much he paid.

Testimonial in 2002 from Mr Steve James. It speaks about ‘products’. The newer version of 2012 was edited so that it speaks about a ‘program’. This edit means that Mr Cohen can claim to be offering a service, instead of selling products, because he is prohibited from selling therapeutic scheduled products.

The editing of the testimonial from Mr Steve James is worthy of mention. His earlier testimonial appeared on IHRB’s website and in ads almost ten years ago. It says, ‘I recommend Sam’s products to anyone…’ where as the 2012 version says, ‘I recommend Sam’s program to anyone…’ This is due to a recent debate by IHRB, via its solicitor who tried to convince the Complaints Resolution Panel that IHRB provides services, and that the products were incidental, and in fact, non-existent if they were medical; claiming that medical products are handled completely by the chemist — which is not true.

This testimonial has already been determined to be unrealistic and unverified and misleading. IHRB was told not to use it. We see in the images of Mr Steve James that his hair grew very well within only three months. That is remarkable. We have to ask what medications he purchased, and what risks he took. It is strange that we see the crown of his scalp as the area that grew, yet Mr Cohen insists that he cannot grow hair in that area. He makes his clients sign disclaimers that they do not expect hair to grow there. So this makes the ad unrealistic because a reader starts to expect hair to grow in that region on the scalp, when in fact Mr Cohen voids that area from the guarantee. Everything about this new ad is hilarious, including the chit-chat in the body-copy, the reference to the vilifying websites (presumably he is referring to this site), and the mention of 65 testimonials from doctors and a priest. Dear Reader, indeed, people have regrown their hair. However, I allege that they grew their hair because they were pre-disposed to respond well to readily-available medications such as Minoxidil, Finasteride, Loniten, and Retin-A. This combination is not recommended by the TGA. Yet, I suspect that some or all of these medications were used by the likes of Mr Steve James. Those medications do not cost much. Why should anyone pay IHRB thousands of dollars for something they could have purchased elsewhere, with the support of their GP?

The punchline is that this ad should never have been published. The statements it makes were Sanctioned!

In the ad above, Mr Cohen cautions against wasting time lest we waste our precious hair through experimentation. I have had several clients tell me that Mr Cohen just kept using them an guinea pigs, as this former client found out, the hard way.

4 & 9 & 23 March 2012

This ad appeared 4 & 9 & 23 March 2012 in ‘Spectator’ magazine. It breaks the Codes that had first resulted in IHRB being Sanctioned. The representations made in this ad were assessed by the Complaints Resolution Panel to be unlawful, misleading, and unverified.

24 February 2012

This ad is in breach of the Orders made by the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) and in breach of the Sanctions made by the Complaints Resolution Panel. It was published in on the 4th of February 2012 in ‘Spectator’ magazine. Mr Cohen had given assurances to HCCC that he would behave himself. Here is an example of a flagrant disregard to the law and his worthless assurances.

3 February 2012

This ad below appeared because one presumes that Sam Cohen wanted to play it safe by not mentioning any medications or any therapeutic products. He needed to advertise and might have been at a loss as to how to promote his company. In my humble opinion, this ad is still misleading and extremely deceptive. The ad is saying that if you don’t want hair/baldness like the man in the photo, call IHRB. In every submission via his lawyer and to the Tribunal and to the Health Department, Mr Cohen INSISTS that he CANNOT help anyone who has a male-pattern-baldness like the type showed in this ad. This ad is giving the impression that if you have (or want to avoid) baldness like this, go see Sam. When people give him the money and later wish to invoke the supposed guarantee, Sam says that he never said that he could grow hair on the areas of the head where this man is showing he needs hair to grow. His lawyer writes to the authorities and says, ‘Our client does not promise to regrow hair on bald heads. What he does offer is assistance in seeking to impact upon the conditions causing hair loss, the improvement of the scalp and improvement of dying hair into a better texture.’ The second reason why this ad is not right, is that for some people, there are medications that can help. These are available at $12 per month/bottle. So why should anyone pay Mr Cohen $4,900 plus $225 to $900 per bottle thereafter, when they can just pay $12 to $70?

The third reason is that for Mr Cohen to help anyone to grow hair, he has to use scheduled medications. HCCC has prohibited him from selling or supplying scheduled medications. So how can he help anyone with medications when it would be a criminal offence to supply or sell them!

As simple as this ad is, it is completely misleading and useless. It appeared in ‘Spectator’ magazine 3 February 2012.


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