I sympathise with you, because I, too, had been misled by Sam Cohen.
I approached IHRB in early December 2003. At the time, I was losing more than the usual hair loss cycle and I was concerned that I was going to end up bald.
At the consultation, Sam came across that he was passionate about his products. Like he showed you, I was shown photographs and testimonials of his clients. I’m unable to place a count on the many times he stressed that ‘there is a written money-back guarantee’.
At the time, I was thinking about becoming pregnant, so I asked Sam if there would be any side effects with his products/formula if I was to become pregnant. His response was, ‘No side effects at all, pregnant or not pregnant,’ and he continued to do his best to re-assure me.
I ended-up purchasing the package for $3,600.
In the following days, I located on the internet that there is insufficient research/studies on pregnant women & minoxidil. I also visited my Medical Centre and was advised by a doctor not to use minoxidil due to the lack of studies on the effect of minoxidil on the foetus.
Three days after purchasing the products, I contacted IHRB and explained my situation. Sam asked why I hadn’t visited one of the doctors that he had listed in the folder that he gave me. He said that they could provide the medication/formula. I was astounded when, over the phone, he criticised every other doctor and tried to persuade me to disregard my doctor’s advice. He insisted that minoxidil is definitely 100% safe on the baby.
I made an appointment for the next day to visit Sam and ask for a refund.
My co-worker accompanied me (as a witness). I took his products of shampoo, etc which were unused & unopened. At the meeting, Sam again did his best to re-assure me, but I resisted. He then offered me his substitute 100% all natural hair regrowth products which he claimed would take double the time to work, compared with his minoxidil formula. I refused his second offer and asked for my money back. His response was extremely unprofessional.
Sam advised that he wasn’t going to accept the returned/unopened products, insinuating that I might have injected toxic substances into them. I asked Sam to inspect the products to see for himself that the items have not been tampered with. That is when his intimidation began.
Sam insulted my co-worker by telling her to go back to her country because she had previously questioned his integrity. He then started on me by saying, ‘No man will put up with you.’ Due to his intimidation and unprofessional conduct, we left his office. I intentionally left his products behind (including IHRB’s marketing propaganda and paperwork).
I contacted the Fair Trading Department later that day and was asked to wait for a response (which could take a fortnight). In the meantime, I contacted the bank to credit my card, in view of the fact that all of IHRB’s products had been returned. I received a credit. However, days later, a female from IHRB then contacted my financial institution and asked to reverse the credit. She argued that the payment was for a ‘service.’ (Wow, a one-hour consultation worth $3,600). The bank then reversed the refund in their favour and advised me that I need to go to court to settle the dispute.
Eventually, a tribunal date was made with the Department of Fair Trading for late January 2004.
Unfortunately, Sam Cohen did not appear at the tribunal. A female from IHRB attended. I’m unable to recall her name, but at the consultation Sam claimed that she was his hairdresser. The hairdresser informed the judge that she was part-owner of IHRB.
Before the Tribunal, the Fair Trading Dept asks the parties from each dispute to go to a private room to try to negotiate a settlement. At that negotiation, Sam’s hairdresser/messenger denied that Sam advised ‘minoxidil has no effect on the baby.’ I disputed this, saying that she was not present at the consultation, therefore she isn’t a witness to what was said or not said.
My co-worker attended the negotiations and the tribunal as my witness.
The hairdresser (let’s call her HD) was offering me IHRB’s substitute ‘100% all natural products’ but no refund. A negotiation could not be reached so we immediately appeared before a tribunal judge.
The judge heard my case then turned to Sam’s HD and asked for Sam. The HD’s response to the judge was, ‘He’s too busy to take time off.’
Another unprofessional statement from HD to the judge was, ‘She lied to the bank so she could get her money back.’
I informed the judge that I received my money back only for a small period of time when I had told the bank that I had returned all the products, with my co-worker as a witness. I also informed the judge that someone from IHRB contacted the bank to claim that the money paid to IHRB was for a ‘service’, and therefore the bank reversed my refund.
The HD also denied what Sam had said anything to me about minoxidil being 100% safe for a baby. The judge asked the HD to provide company documentation to show where it states that the program is not recommended to pregnant women. The HD gave the judge some paperwork but the judge rejected it as it was only IHRB marketing propaganda.
The HD then stated to the judge that I am able to be placed on their 100% natural products.
My response was something along the lines of, ‘As I was misled, I have no faith in the company. I do not wish to go on another IHRB program or have any more dealings with Sam or IHRB. I would greatly appreciate my money back.’
The judge ruled that IHRB is to return the $3,600 to me within a fortnight. The cheque did eventually arrive.
In general, I feel confident that others can take similar matters to the department [now called CTTT] and receive a fair hearing.
I suspect that Sam does not appear at the tribunals because he is unable to keep his temper under control.
Jonar, in your case, it might be best to attempt to take the matter to the CTTT (Consumer, Trader & Tenancy Tribunal ) and file a ‘General’ claim to show how IHRB is deceptive in its conduct. The lodgement fee is only $34 ($5 for pensioners and students).
Hope you get far with this extremely frustrating matter.
All the best.
[Everything in this story was sent by Jane. Only her name and photo have been changed to protect her privacy.]