Institute of what?

Institute of what?

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What’s in a name? Is Sam Cohen’s company really an ‘institute’? In all his literature, the logo is used, which shows the company’s full name, being ‘Institute of Hair Regrowth & Beauty’.

IHRB logoSo we have to ask: what is an institute? The term conjures-up an established organisation in a grand building like the one shown above. What impression is the company giving the public when it states that it is an institute? Used as a noun, a dictionary (such as the Apple online dictionary) will show that an institute is ‘a society or organisation having a particular object or common factor, especially a scientific, educational, or social one…’ Random House (*citation below) says, ‘…a society or organization for carrying on a particular work, as of a literary, scientific, or educational character… devoted to instruction in technical subjects, usually separate but sometimes organized as a part of a university… a unit within a university organized for advanced instruction and research in a relatively narrow field of subject matter.’

What are potential clients going to think when they see that a company is called ‘Institute of Hair Regrowth & Beauty’? To me, it gave Sam Cohen an air of authority. It made me assume that the company is not an office that on-sells pre-packaged products that happen to be made by other manufacturers. A local supermarket is not an institute of food and health. A dentist might be qualified, but does not promote the dental practice as an institute. At which point does something become an institute?

What makes matters worse in my mind is the surrounding literature, and the documentation that leads me to believe that somehow, this company is involved in some discovery or some scientific research or in some manufacturing of special herbs or medications that work wonders. If Woolworths is not an institute of food and health, then what makes Sam Cohen’s company an institute, and to what degree does this phrase influence people into believing that he has special ingredients or herbal extracts or secret formulae that he uses to help people to re-grow their own hair? To what degree are we supposed to assume or believe that Mr Cohen is an authority on the subject of hair regrowth?

Here is a copy of a generic letter from Sam Cohen. You can download a copy here. The first sentence reads, ‘My name is Sam Cohen, a hair loss and hair replacement specialist. For more than 35 years I have been associated with the research, development, improvements and innovations of various hair treatment and hair replacement programs.’ This letter was given to me in 2008. If Mr Cohen has more than 35 years’ experience, he would have had to have started in 1974. I am not sure where he would have started his career. Records show that he worked with Lord Jim Hair Pieces from October 1983. I also believe that he worked as a salesman for Ashley & Martin from November 1990. IHRB was registered as a company in May 2002. The maths do not work for me. For him to have more than 35 years of experience in ‘research, development, improvements and innovations’, he would have had to have started in 1974 (and more like 1964 so that he can have time to serve as a junior or apprentice, after which one can claim to be a specialist). Yet, he was a salesman in 1990 at Ashley & Martin. There is no shame in being a salesman. I am concerned that, as we piece elements together, impressions are made and perceptions are formed, especially when we combine the word ‘Institute’ with the words ‘research’, ‘development’, and ‘innovations’. This becomes a serious statement, leading me to believe that Mr Cohen and IHRB are more than a shop-front that sells shampoo. It suggests that he and his company are instrumental in the solution. You see, anyone who has a lot of experience with headaches, and who has consumed thousands of Aspirin or Paracetamol tablets, or who has sold them over the counter, cannot open an office, call it ‘The Institute of Pain Relief’, and say that they have been involved with the research and development of solutions that provide pain relief. It would be misleading for someone to place ads to attract those with headaches, charge them $3,700, and give them a packet of Aspirin, and tell them to go to their doctor to obtain a prescription for a packet of the slightly stronger stuff. Where is the innovation in that? Where is the institute’s added-value in this scenario? Where is the scientific research? According to my investigations, Mr Cohen and IHRB are not only doing something similar to this scenarios, but doing something much worse, which will be outlined in another article on this site.

The second paragraph of that letter starts, ‘I therefore believe that I can talk with justified authority on all matters relating to itchy scalp, dry or oily hair, excessive hair loss, thinning hair, baldness and all the above programs and procedures.’ His literature speaks about ‘programs’ as if there is some special course or solution that he has devised or invented. In my observation, having been a client for twelve months, I now read these words and cannot see how they can be justified.

Does Sam Cohen have any qualification or certificate or proof of any of this R&D and innovation? It’s just that he is giving me the impression that he is the man behind the solution. I would not mind if he had said that he obtains all his medications from Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson or Sigma. I would not mind if had said that a mate of his had innovated or invented the solutions. Mr Cohen leads me to believe that he is the genius behind the secret that none of his competitors have managed to formulate. Five minutes at his office, and he launches into bad language against his competitors. In all his ads and letters, he mentions competitors as organisations that are a rip off. On his website and in his full-page ads, he says, ‘Be very wary about what you hear and see!!’. The funny thing is, he misspells it as ‘weary’ which gives it a different meaning, which is more apt, in so many ways.

His has two selling points. 1) That he is experienced and has developed a special program using special ‘Indian Curries’ that are the genius behind his treatment, and 2) That he is honest and affordable, while every other competitor on the market is involved in a scam of some sort. In that letter above, he says, ‘…we will honestly suggest the appropriate program…’ Why must someone keep emphasising honesty and dishonesty? Why does Mr Cohen have a fixation with ‘rip off’ merchants and charlatans of the hair loss industry? He uses more vulgar terms for them. A few minutes in his office, and expletives burst every which way, about everything and evryone, including his staff and his clients. Often a client would drop-in while I would be with him in his office, and after the client leaves, he would use abusive and offensive language about that client, the client’s sexuality, the client’s obesity, or some unkind remark, making me wonder what he says about me when I walk out the door.

His letter and his ads say, ‘If you have tried or are currently trying treatments without or with very limited success or feel that you are paying too much, then you need to discuss our “Hair Treatment Program” that offers guaranteed results or your money back.’

He is saying that where others fail, he can do better. With all the products and medications on the market, that are available to all his competitors, some of whom are massive corporations many times his size, he seems to know more and can do more, for less. He is saying that if your current treatments are providing limited success, come to me, I can do better, and if I don’t, you can have your money back. From what I know about his operation, and as a client who spent $3,700 down the drain, I now see that sentence and laugh. Nonetheless, under the banner of an ‘Institute’ and his 35 years of research and development, and his innovations, and his ‘Program’, consumers are being told that he has something special. Something that no other company has. In another article, I will explain more about his jewel in the crown, being his special, secret, ‘Indian Curries’ as he puts it, that give him the edge over every other company out there.

Meanwhile, we have to ask Mr Cohen to outline his qualifications. To which reputable association does he belong? From which university is he qualified? When was the last time he attended a professional development workshop or conference? Healthcare professionals must attend approximately 40 hours of professional development programs each year. When was the last time he did any of that? Is he a doctor? Is he a pharmacist? Is he a dermatologist? Does he have any such expertise on his staff? If he does not, then what does he know that others do not? What product is he using that gives him the edge? He refers to prescribed ‘Topical Solutions’ and to tablets/capsules. Are any of his special ingredients approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration? Does he disclose the compounds that comprise his Indian Curries? Is it legal to be infusing or mixing or compounding special Indian Curries or herbs or extracts into other prescribed medications without disclosing this to a client? Does he follow labelling laws? Does he obey the laws as determined by the TGA? Are his Indian Curries ‘registered’ or ‘listed’ with the TGA? More on this later.

In summary, this article asks if Mr Cohen has any qualifications to he handling drugs or compounding topical solutions. (By the way, a topical solution is a liquid, gel, or cream that patients put on top of their head or skin, meaning that they would neither swallow/ingest nor inject the medication. A topical solution goes on TOP of the body/skin.) This article looks at the illusion that is given in relation to IHRB being an authoritative organisation/institute. The words that surround this company seem to give the impression that there is expertise surrounding the solution. For example, the sales pitch is not called a sales pitch. It is called a consultation. The word consultation is harmless enough, but not within the grand illusion of a medical/pharmaceutical/scientific environment that simply does not exist.

To complicate the matter for me and others who could be misled into thinking that IHRB has some medical know-how, this document, which you can download as a PDF, explains how hair grows and how it falls out. However, it gives the impression that the author of the document is knowledgeable and medically savvy. At no point does the document, on IHRB’s letterhead, reference any source or any publication. So we are to assume that it was written by IHRB for IHRB using IHRB’s expertise. Worse still, the document is in the form of a letter with Sam Cohen’s name at the bottom, so we are to attribute all that knowledge to Mr Cohen as the author (and therefore the authority). It all builds an illusion that Mr Cohen is an expert in the area. The document talks about Anagens, Catahens, and Telogens, while using scientific terms and phrases as if the Institute and its managing director are learned. And what makes matters even more disturbing, to my way of thinking, is that the document goes into scientific explanations and then smoothly glides into commentary such as, ‘IHRB’s treatments can assist in blocking the DHT, thereby stopping further thinning and regrowing more hair – the anagen phase is lengthened.’ What treatment? If I tell you that Aspirin might help with your headache, can I call it ‘my treatment’? How does handing out Aspirin or Vicks Vapour Drops elevate a person to having a ‘treatment’? All this aggrandising is designed to make people feel better about paying thousands of dollars for a treatment that is available over the counter at any pharmacy, or from any GP for a few dollars. If his Indian Curries do exist, are they worth $3,000 to $4,000? If, per chance, he does have curries and herbs, which he claims are the basis of his secret formula, then what are they, and who is compounding them, and does the TGA know about them and does he have a licence to be selling them or importing them or mixing them? And if his secret does not fall within the purview of the TGA, then what about the labelling laws that he ignores? Why do none of his topical solution bottles mention any of these ingredients. Is that legal? Either he is acting illegally, or he simply has no Indian Curries. Which is worse?

In that letter, Mr Cohen explains what ‘Alopecia Areata’ is, and then says, ‘Most types of Alopecia are difficult to treat. Over the years we have been able to treat a large number of people affected, very successfully.’ What on earth does that mean? How can telling a client to go to the GP to obtain a regular medication, be called, ‘…we have been able to treat…’? If someone were to write a four page scientific-style dissertation about back pain, and says, ‘Normally back pain is difficult to treat, but we have been successful with a large number of people’, we would assume that they have some special treatment. Alas, what would you say if they charged $3,700 and sent people home with a tube filled with Menthol and Methyl salicylate (which is exactly the contents of a tube of Deep Heat that sells for $10)? If we complain, the con-artist would say, ‘This is not your normal Deep Heat. This contains special secret herbs that I have discovered, which I add to the Menthol.’

The document in question uses the ‘Royal We’, further misleading a reader to assume that Sam and his team have made certain discoveries. He writes, ‘We can now block the “hormone receptors” that cause baldness…’ Then he says, ‘Our combination of “Specialized prescribed medical treatment”, “pharmaceutical”, and “herbal” preparations, “Organic” products and “natural extracts” can reverse hair loss…’ What combination is that? Is it a combination of medical products, or does the word ‘combination’ refer to the ‘sequence’ that is somehow the major intangible discovery? For example, if one takes a cup of tea, a glass of water, and an Aspirin tablet, in a different sequence, whereby the water is taken first, does this mean that the ‘combination’ has been changed, and so the effect is better? So is Mr Cohen saying that his expertise lies in telling his clients ‘the sequence’ in which regular herbal products and medications are to be used?  (Products that cost a few dollars from any pharmacy after a GP’s prescription for a regular medication from the likes of Sigma or Pfizer.) The absurdity of this affair will be made clear as you read other articles on this site.

He ends the letter with the exclusive, ‘Once accepted on one of our programs…’ as if David Jones will not sell you a shirt unless you are accepted on one if its programs. How daft. I put it to you that IHRB will accept anyone and everyone. Sam told me that he has refused treatment to people, and they have begged him to go on his program. So it seems that everyone will be accepted with a little begging, so long as they sign their life away to say that the money is going down the drain, and no recourse is available, and no guarantee is offered. Remember this sentence. It will play a major part in this whole saga.

^ ASIC INFORMATION: From an ASIC report, I could see that IHRB was registered with ASIC as a company on the 27th of May 2002, showing its director as Mr Samuel Faraj Cohen, born in Calcutta, India, with 49% of the shares. He did have a partner/co-director who resigned in July 2006. The company started in Gladesville then moved to 105 Pitt Street, Sydney in July 2006. Mr Sam Cohen is now the Sole Director, CEO, and Company Secretary. On Thursday 28 April 2011, Sam Cohen told a client (whose story is featured here) that Sam’s shareholder/money-man had left him and that Sam is now the sole operator.

* Dictionary Citation for the word ‘institute’:

American Psychological Association (APA):
institute. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved from Dictionary.com

Chicago Manual Style (CMS):
institute. Dictionary.com. Unabridged. Random House, Inc.

Modern Language Association (MLA):
“institute.” Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc.

P.S. Go to the White Pages telephone directory and type in the word ‘Institute’ and you will see that such a word is often used with an institution or an academy or a large body, and very rarely for a company that sells products. You will find names such as:

Institute of Chartered Accountants
Institute of Arbitrators & Mediators
Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science
Institute of Drug technology
Institute of Legal Executives
Institute of Engineers

P.P.S In the twelve months of being a client, and the subsequent five months of extensive research into IHRB, I am yet to understand how the word ‘Beauty’ comes into the equation. If the company were recently formed, I would say that it had something to do with a clever tactic to improve search-engine optimisation and Google searches, but the company was formed in 2002, long before SEO was hip. Pray tell, where does this company find the time to be a beauty institute as well? Perhaps ambitious plans are afoot.

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