Latest alternative medicine radio commercial scam
Posted: 09 July 2008 06:58 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Alternative treament purveyors are all over the radio these days. From products to cure impotence and fatigue to others that grow hair, they are everywhere. Someone must be buying an awful lot of this stuff or they wouldn’t advertise so much. Today I heard something that pushed the boundries though.

Many of you have probably heard adds on the radio recruiting participants for legitimate studies of new investigational drugs. Today I heard an add that was clearly meant to mimick one of those recruitment adds, but it was nothing of the sort. The add was touting a new product and claimed that they were looking for individuals who would be willing to try the product free of charge as part of a study to determine how effective it was. Unfortunately while they mentioned the product name at least a half dozen times, I was driving and couldn’t write it down and forgot the name. There were a number of clues however that this was a scam. Real studies never name the investigational drug, only the disease they are trying to treat. This add repeated the “drug’s” name over and over again so you wouldn’t forget it ( although obviously that didn’t work on me grin ). Real researchers trying to recruit participants also make it clear that there will be medical supervision which will be paid for by the study’s sponsors. This advertisement made no mention of that. There was also no mention of the fact that you might get a placebo instead of the actual drug. This is something all legitimate study adds must tell you when they recruit participants.

This add was obviously meant to convince people they were about to participate in an important study of a promising new drug when in fact it was nothing more than an old fashion add to try a free sample and then rope in those who succumb to the placebo effect.

Just when I think the alternative medicine industry has gotten as sleazy as it can, they one up themselves.

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Posted: 09 July 2008 09:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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macgyver - 09 July 2008 06:58 PM

There was also no mention of the fact that you might get a placebo instead of the actual drug.

Oh, I can guarantee they will all get the placebo!  LOL

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Posted: 10 July 2008 08:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Interesting new twist, presenting it as a medical study. Sounds like they are hiding Negative Option Marketing.
I suspect the company will offer the trial “free” for let’s say, $6.99 shipping and handling. Once the company gets their credit card information for this shipping and handling charge, however, the customer is screwed.
The customer will find that by signing up for this the 30-day “free trial” they’ve unwittingly consented to an expensive monthly “subscription” to keep refilling the medicine (or herbal pill) month after month, for a very high cost.

Calls to their credit card company to block the monthly charges may be fruitless, because the “subscription agreement” was in the fine print of signing up for the free trial. (Whether or not they read you the fine print on the phone when signing up, or show it on the website when you fill out the form, varies by company.)
Some companies will claim that you can cancel at any time, but have a tenancy to deliberately take months to cancel subscriptions or change their customer service number, claim their “system is down” when you call customer service, etc. It can take months of filing complaints with the BBB or government agencies to get a resolution. Other companies won’t cancel your subscription at all, stating the customer signed up for a year, or whatever was stated in the fine print.

This is exactly what just happend with the Enzyte “male enhancement” pills:

“In testimony during the trial, a former executive with Berkeley testified that the enhancements that the company claimed were given by use of Enzyte were fabricated, and the company defrauded customers by continuing to charge them for additional shipments of the supplement. He further testified that company employees were instructed to make it as difficult as possible for unhappy customers to receive refunds.”

People called to cancel when the product did nothing, only to continue receiving more in the mail and keep getting charged.

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