Sensa… I smell another scam
I was surfing the net and came across this article… It starts out quite innocuously, with a story about a scientist who may have discovered a pathway to creating a sense of fullness–from the olfactory nerves to the hypothalmus–but from there it clearly travels into the infomercial world with an offer to try the product for free at the end of the article… Ya, real articles, written by actual journalists (do journalists still exist by the way?) always contain free offers on the end… I remember back in the day, Dan Rather hawking Amway memberships at the end of each of his newscasts, those were the days… I am sure I have shown this video before, but could this be the future of news. Next year will people be looking at this entry and missing the clear sarcasm because, yes, all news will be sponsored by 2011, with products bidding on newspots. I can picture the news now, ‘This just in, a new report shows that french fries are yummy, so get yours at McDonald’s now…. We didn’t have a sponsor for that earthquake in California, so instead, coming up this hour we have a report on car safety brought to you by Toyota.’
How Life Works
So, HowLifeWorks.com runs a story that looks a little more like an ad than a story, but who is to say that How Life Works actually whores itself out and sells advertising space intermixed with news stories to try to confuse you into buying products and in turn selling ad space for How Life Works? Oh, wait, In the about section they actually say that they do this exact thing…. It doesn’t appear though that they actually get paid to run the ads as they make their money as an affiliate site… They are owned by ASN, a junk email and low cost advertising network… I am guessing whatever soulless people in our world who don’t work for David Zinczenko or over at Life & Style magazine are gathered around the water cooler here.
So, How Life Works is an advertorial site. Here is how the sites work according to ASN:
- ASN’s Advertorial offers advertisers a vast new pool of highly qualified prospects. This traffic generally converts at considerably higher rates than search and display advertising.
- ASN’s staff of editorial/copy writers produces short informative reference articles about the client’s product or service. These articles are published on heavily trafficked information and reference sites, attracting tens of thousands of readers daily.
- The client’s offer is explained in the article and the reader has the opportunity to click through to the clients landing page. The client only pays for these clicks.
- Advertorial traffic converts particularly well when the advertisers offer requires consultive selling.
- This 2-click model (the prospect clicks to the article, and again to the advertiser’s landing page) results in extremely strong conversion rates. When a prospect clicks to the advertisers landing page they have already selected the article, read the article’s 3rd party endorsement of the advertisers offer, and clicked again to the advertisers landing page.
So, this brings us to the Sensa website. The website is covered with logos of media outlets, including a huge ShopNBC logo. I clicked on it and apparently NBC is branching out into selling unvetted and unresearched crap. Thanks NBC, just what we need is another outlet for crap that no one has tried and no one needs. If the shopping channels aren’t one of the biggest apologies our culture will be making to the rest of the world for the rest of time, I don’t know what is.
The Clinical Research
The claim to fame for Sensa is their Clinical Study:
Then, in one of the largest studies of a non-prescription weight-loss system, these Tastants were tested for effectiveness as a means of weight loss.
The results were significant. Over a 6 month period, 1,436 women and men sprinkled flavorless “Tastant” crystals on everything they ate, and lost an average of 30.5 pounds – nearly 15% of their total body weight.
Participants achieved these results without having to follow any special exercise regime or diet.
I am very intrigued. 30.5 pounds is a huge amount of weight in 6 months! Huge! I cannot wait to read this study, and boy am I lucky. Right here on the web page they have an entire tab dedicated to clinical research, so I clicked on it and… WTF?!?! Seriously, there is a small graph, and just a re-utterance of the claims above. There is one more tidbit of news though. Apparently the test group was 1,436 people but the control group was only 100… Why? Why not a random split… wait a minute, they don’t even tell us how they populated the groups? How did they administer the tests? Were both groups given crystals to pour on their food? What did the testees report? It says here that they were not ‘required‘ to change their normal diet or exercise program, but that ‘required‘ looks awfully suspicious. Were they encouraged? Were they educated? Were exercise facilities made available to them? Were they paid by how many pounds they lost?
It may seem that still, regardless 1,436 lost 30 pounds and the 100 people only lost 2, so it must do something, right? No, although it is possible that it may work, there isn’t enough information in this report to answer whether it does or not. Imagine if the groups were selected by amount of weight to lose. Those in the control group were at their own target weight. The others were obese, with hundreds of pounds to lose. Imagine that they were paid to lose weight and given support such as healthy eating tips, diet counselors and trainers. Do you think it would make any difference if you sprinkled crystals on your food, obviously not. The people in the non-control group would lose a lot of weight, the people in the control group wouldn’t.
Without the actual study, this ‘clinical research’ is literally useless. It has no value. The fact that the study isn’t available on this page indicates to me that there are massive flaws in the study and they are actually burying it. Given the fact that a research scientist and doctor is behind this product, I personally wouldn’t need to go any further. Unless this study is peer reviewed, I am calling SCAM plain and simple. You cannot cite a study and not make it available. This is quite honestly a scientific scam.
So far they are using so many scammy techniques to sell us this product that I am seeing red flags everywhere. How about reason #10 on the Top 10 Reasons to Try Sensa. It is free*. When something is actually free, it comes without an asterisk. So, how not free is this stuff, lets see.
- Tell us where to send your FREE 2-Month Starter Kit!*
- Pay only $4.95 for S&H
- See weight loss results, guaranteed!
2 month starter kit? That strikes me as odd, because they say that:
*Product is free to try for 30 days. Pay only a small shipping & handling fee. Customer responsible for return postage.
So, no matter what I am out $4.95 for shipping and handling, and because they send me 60 days, I have to send back 30 days, so I am out another $10 or so. Here is where it gets odd though. According to the terms and conditions:
You have a full 30 days to try your Sensa 2-Month Starter Kit. If you enjoy Sensa, do nothing. You’ll be billed one low payment of $89.95 on 6/26/2010.
So, the free part refers not to the product being free, but from the freedom of paying for 30 days. That stinks! That is stretching the notion of free to the point of stupidity.
Okay, so we now know that *free means you will pay an insane amount of odorless, tasteless sprinkles! Almost $90 for 2 months of it. I just love all of the straight talk from these guys. I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t trust them.
Where things really start to get questionable
This product is simple to use. Reason #8 on the list of reasons to use this stuff is:
It’s as easy to use as salt & pepper. Just sprinkle it on .. and watch the pounds come off.
Great, it sounds easy, but wait a second… The product comes with a ‘How – To Guide’… Why on earth would I need a how to guide with something as easy to use as salt & pepper. I bought a salt shaker recently, it didn’t come with any instructions. Come to think of it, neither did my pepper shaker. I even have a more complicated pepper mill and it didn’t have a ‘how to guide’ either. Maybe it is just a little pamphlet that says, ‘sprinkle on foods like salt & pepper’. Wait, it also comes with a Getting Started DVD?!!?! You are kidding!?!!? I need this to figure out how to sprinkle it on all of my food. Wasn’t the guide enough. Here is a part of the video at least, courtesy of YouTube.
The pseudo scientific interview with the good doctor and the success stories are there to try to convince you to believe in their product and stick with it for more than 30 days by the way. I am betting the DVD comes with diet and exercise advice as well.
And who doesn’t need a book to learn how to sprinkle flavorless crystals onto your food… Seriously, he has a book! The Sensa Weight-Loss Program! It has officially sold more copies than my book (true, my book is looking to be published in June and it is only May, but seriously). What kind of a world do we live in where there is a Sensa Diet Book?!!?!??
You can view some people who were in the research study here as well, and hear some dipwad from Dateline acting like a shill from the Sensa company, reporting how successful the study is before it is even concluded (what a moron) and then suggesting that there are no plans to market or sell this stuff in the future. Can anyone really be this stupid? This is the face of our media…
“Sensa stronly urges consumers to read ingredient labels closely before using any weight-loss product.”
This is a statement about avoiding certain diets such as hydroxycut… The thing is, nowhere on this webpage does Sensa tell us what the ingredients are in their product. The closest thing you can find is:
Sensa consists of FDA-GRAS listed ingredients.
GRAS stands for Generally Recognized As Safe. This means that Sensa falls under the incredibly lax and embarrassing Supplements Act (DSHEA) which I have commented on before. Thanks Sensa, so I should be really careful about what I put in my body, and read all ingredients, but I don’t really need to know what the hell you are telling me to liberally sprinkle over all of my food. I should just accept that the government has me covered on this…
According to the website, right after I buy this stuff I will:
See weight loss results, guaranteed
The ‘Guarantee’ is the ultimate weapon is the scammer’s tool kit. It gets everyone. It has single-handedly sold 10 million Ab Circle Pros (or more). Everyone see guaranteed and thinks: ” They wouldn’t guarantee it if it weren’t true”. That seems logical, and it would be if the guarantee actually means something, but it doesn’t. In every case, even if you don’t like the product and you send it back, you are already out your shipping and handling, which has some profit built into it, so the company isn’t really damaged by the loss. Sure if everyone shipped it back, they would be out of business, but if only 10% keep it, they are flying high. So they will sell you on a guarantee that is anything but.
Imagine if I offered you a guarantee that if you pay me one dollar, you will earn a million dollars, and I guaranteed you this would happen. If you asked me what my guarantee was, and I told you, well, it is guaranteed or I will give you $0.90 back, but you had to fill out a bunch of forms and send me a letter to get it back. You would smell out the scam right away. Do this with weight loss products and no one sees it. The real meaning of a guarantee would be that I would give you a million dollars because that was what I told you my product would do for you. That obviously isn’t going to happen, but that is what a guarantee should mean. I believe so much in my product that I will back it up with something more than just taking less money from you. That is all these products are saying. If you keep the product and like it, I make a pretty penny, but if you don’t like it, well, I don’t make as much. Thanks for the useless guarantee.
Be aware though, the sensa community will try to convince you to keep your sensa, and stick with it. You can see in the video that the soulless Sensa shill tells you that although most people see results in 30 days, if you don’t, just stick with it and keep sprinkling. The added incentive to keep your Sensa on top of all this, is that you have to package it up, obtain a return package number and then ship it back to them within 30 days at your own cost. They know that you are probably not going to bother and kaching!! More money for them.
The Joy of being automatically billed
If all of this wasn’t enough to convince you of the questionable quality of these sprinklings, how about the fact that you are autoenrolled in Sensa club:
That’s a 35% SAVINGS off the retail price. Plus, you’ll enjoy free enrollment in our Sensa AutoShip Delivery Service. You will automatically receive a fresh supply every 2 months so you never run out of Tastants. Plus, you will lock in the low price of only $89.95 every 60 days, billed to your credit card, plus $0.00 shipping and handling.
Ya, that is what I call a joy, as apparently do the over 100 people who bothered to complain to the BBB about your auto-enrollment. In your defense though, you did refund most everyone’s money, so that is good to see. Mind you, you have so many reviews that are clearly company written in the list of comments that I am sickened to see you continuing to do business this way.
Mind you, what did I expect from a company that hires an advertising firm whose sole purpose is to confuse news and ads.
Oh, and Dr. Alan Hirsch, I would like to welcome you to the Rogues Gallery! This is for being a doctor and a research scientist and advertising a clinical study that you have not produced for review! Then using this as a basis to sell a product that you have clearly spent millions of dollars marketing, but not one second making your study available. Only a douchebag would do something like that. Many of you may not understand how wrong that is in the world of science, but I am sure that if Dr. Hirsch ever went to a convention for one of the professions that he holds a title in, you would see him shunned an hiding in the corner covered in the stink of a sell out. Damn I hope I can find a full body shot of you!