Paid to endorse

Paid to endorse

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When you see stunning ‘before and after shots’, along with testimonials, what crosses your mind? All of IHRB’s ads feature people and their testimonials. What impression do you form? I ask this because I believe that most people who see these ads, will presume that these testimonials are just that: satisfied clients who are so happy, that they write to Sam to thank him. Is that what you think? Are these clients who are overjoyed? Is that the impression that you form? And if that were the case, and if these were indeed happy clients, you would think that it would be justified to publish their casual letters of thanks, raving about their delightful treatment.

Okay, so if these were real clients, we might give these testimonials 100 points out of 100.

How many points would you deduct if you later realised that the person whose name, face, and letter are published, has had little or no hair for the past two years? What if we see great ‘before and after shots’, and a letter saying thanks, placed in full-page ads that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars*, when the ad, which has run for at least two years, is of a person who for those two years has had no hair and looks nothing like the photo? I have email evidence from such a client. Is IHRB misleading the public? How many points should we deduct for that? 50 points? After-all, why say look at this, when in reality, if we went now to take a photo of the client, we would see a vastly different picture. Sure, the client might have stopped taking the medication. So it might well be the client’s fault, but if Sam Cohen knew that his client has not come to see him for two years and stopped buying the Indian Curries, why would he keep showing something that is misleading? These are called ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots. So let us see the ‘real’ after shot. Sam’s photos ought to be called ‘before-and-later’ shots. What happens ‘after’ is a totally different picture!

So now we are down to 50 points. How many points would you deduct if you were to find out that the person in the photo is a model? Not a client, but a person who has been paid to appear and to model and to write a letter, in the expectation that the letter needs to be favourable? In the ads, we are led to believe that these are real clients. They came, they paid, they used the Indian Curries and other medications, and they were thrilled, and they wrote a kind letter off their own bat, and Sam has published an innocent, unsolicited reaction from a client. But what if we find out that some of his testimonials are from people who are not clients? What if some of these people had not paid a cent? Or clients who were later paid to allow their image to be used so long as they provided a positive testimonial? What if the model is shown after the model was given products on the understanding that they would be models who are being groomed for the photo and the ad? They were workers. They were contractors, told to go, work for IHRB by using certain products, and asked to return for the photo shoot. Is that not a paid worker/contractor? So in effect, Sam is giving someone something that Sam sells at $4900 (or $3900 if you pre-pay, or $3700 if you make a decision now, or $3500 if you seem hesitant and need some pressure).

Why show photos of a client, who is not a client? Why not disclose the fact that these people were guinea pigs, paid to try the formula, and if it works, they would benefit by some hair re-growth, and Sam can use their solicited testimonials? Why mislead people by not saying that these are paid models. They were paid in kind, for a service that he sells for $4900.

And now you might say, well, it does not matter if they are paid or not paid, because the photos do not lie, and we can see a definite improvement. Yes, but now we come to the next question: what products did these clients/models use? Sam is saying that he and IHRB are the heroes. Come to me and this is what I can do for you. If you come to me and I give you Aspirin to stop your headache, should I charge you $4900 for that? There are products on the market that do stimulate hair growth. They work in some, not all cases. All humans are different and some of us react well to these readily-available products. Some people have negative reactions to certain medications. So why does Sam take the credit for products that your pharmacist can sell you at a fraction of the price? Sam is saying that ‘his’ treatment worked, when it might have been the medication that was prescribed by the client’s/model’s doctor — medication that is easily obtained on the market, at a fraction of the price. Does Sam disclose what each of these clients/models used? And how much it would cost us if we had to use the same medications? He says come to me and I will help you, even when none of my competitors can help you. But if these clients/models in his ads are just taking Minoxidil and Retin-A and Proscar or Propecia (finasteride), why does he not say so? If that is all they had taken, and had received such great results, why is Sam taking the credit for medications that are readily available on the market from the GP and pharmacist at a fraction of the price?

Also, Sam never discloses if any of these models/clients had to obtain a doctor’s prescription. If so, how much extra did it cost for such doctor’s visits (or was it absorbed by the tax payer and medicare). How much extra did it cost for such medications (or was it absorbed by the tax payer if the medications were a PBS item available to a certain type of citizen). Sam Cohen is big on protesting about his competitors who are unscrupulous with hidden costs, and who force clients to stay on medications for the rest of their life, but he never tells us, in any of his literature, that when he says something like, my program includes pharmaceutical and prescribed medications, that these will be at an additional cost.

Anyway, at this point, Sam would say this, as he did say it to me in an email dated 29 April 2009: ‘Most doctors look up their computers & prescribe Regaine &/or Propecia. If these 2 would have worked, why should I have thousands of customers after trying Minoxidil &/or Propecia. If it worked, why doesn’t a doctor give a “money back guarantee”?’ Here, Sam is saying that taking Minoxidil and Propecia (finasteride) is not enough. He is saying that the readily-available products on the market do not work. People try Minoxidil and/or Propecia, and this does not work for them, so thousands come to him and they see great results. He said that he has never had any client dissatisfied, and as such, he has never refunded the money to anyone. He makes out that his program works all the time. When it did not work with me, he refused to refund my money, and after some tension in his office, with him threatening me with his fist and foul-mouth and both of us calling the police independently, his daughter said to me, ‘Others have taken him to court/CTTT and they have never won’. So this was an admission that he has had dissatisfied^ clients, but he just never returns the money. I shall explain his clever contractual genius in another article.

So back to the ads. Why does Sam not disclose who the models are, and why does he not disclose what those people had taken and how much extra they had (or would have had to pay if they were genuine case-studies), not withstanding the additional costs of tolls, parking, petrol, and all that travel and time off work, to and form doctors, back to him in the city, to hand over prescriptions (it is most irregular that he wants the prescriptions in his hand, but that irregularity and possible illegality is for another article). In my case, there was the cost of visits to the GP, to the specialist dermatologist, and another one back to the GP to read the dermatologist’s report, and my rash, then more GP visits and the cost of antibiotics and another visit to see Sam in his smoky den. In his glorifying ads, why does Sam not list the real costs associated with his treatments? We should see ‘Before: $0’ and ‘After: $20,000 plus aggravation plus your time’.

In his ads, Sam emphasises that his system is hassle-free and can be done from the comfort of one’s home. He does not list all the trips to the doctor. Mind you, at first, he did not send me to the doctor. He gave me prescription-only as well as pharmacy-only products without a prescription, and this is 100% illegal. Selling pharmacy-only products is also illegal, unless he has a licence, which I am looking into.

Where are the clinical trials?

If it is true that he does have secret Indian Curries, as he kept on telling me, then have these clients/models in the photos used Minoxidil, finasteride, as well as his Indian Curries? Is that what made their hair grow? Is that the special combination that he keeps speaking about? He often talks about the ‘combination’. Ok, then has he ever proved that the Indian Curries work? Has his supposed Institute every conducted a longitudinal or clinical study of 1000 men who went on the program, where 500 of them had the secret Indian Curries and herbs, while the other 500 just used what the GP and Pharmacist had given to them? No. Therefore, on what authority or on which scientific study is he relying when he says that he is the genius behind this re-grown hair? He has no data to show that his Indian Curries work, and we have no proof that they exist!

* Sam admits that he spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising. He even says so here, in a testimonial he gives for a website called CopyWritingThatSells.com.au.

^ When I first asked Sam about how many people have had to receive a refund from IHRB, he said that he has had a 130% satisfaction rate. Currently, on his website, he lists editorials, which include this one that says, ‘I have achieved unparalleled results in regrowth of hair to the utmost satisfaction of every person Have treated.’ You can download the editorial by clicking here.

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