The wife gets excited
Pam watched the Perricone MD infomercial for Cold Plasma Sub-D neck firming cream. She was impressed. The word “scam” did not enter her mind.
It entered mine, though, the instant she told me she’d like to try some of this wonderful stuff.
We’ve not had what you’d call really great luck with products purchased after my redhead saw them on TV. Bottom line, most of them have turned out to be of inferior quality at inflated prices with superhuman attempts on the part of the marketing firm to hook us on AutoShip programs. The financial hits plus the amount of time and effort expended in extracting our credit cards from those automatic withdrawals resulted in permanent Draconian measures being instituted at the Border Fort a long time ago.
Essentially, those measures can be summarized as follows:
1. Pam does not pick up her credit card, does not call the company to order, no matter how infatuated she is with the latest oversold doodad.
2. Pam does come to me in high excitement, certain that this time it’s a great product with an ethical promoter, inventor, or whatever.
3. I throw cold water all over everything, snap, snarl, and promise to research the item in question.
4. If the company requires the customer to use AutoShip, red flags fly and we do not buy…at least not from company headquarters.
5. If there are other online outlets (there usually are) and the product itself looks good, we may try a trial purchase from Amazon or some other online middleman.
6. If it’s a product that comes in contact with the human body–either ingested or used as a cream or ointment–the ingredient list must be studied prior to purchase. Pam’s allergies are legion and not to be trifled with, no matter how awesome the product looks.
Ingredient list and AutoShip
My B.S. detector may have needed a slight tuneup or something. The Sub-D home page did not immediately trigger any red flags.
Wait a sec. Where’s the tab for “Ingredients”?
Uh-oh. There is none.
Well…maybe they included it on one of the other pages. You never know.
Nope. They didn’t. A quick scan of every page on the site, and…nothing. That’s not good. It means there might be something in the cream that would trigger one of my wife’s hundreds of allergies. Pretty much a deal killer, right there.
But beyond that, it’s a red flag. Reputable manufacturers and marketers of products like this always make the ingredient list available.
Score at this point: 1 RED FLAG. (No ingredient list)
Time to check out what happens if you go to the order page. Sure, we could read about the science and the clinical trials and the proof, but I want to know about compulsory AutoShip.
(*Sigh*) Yup. As suspected. Mandatory AutoShip all the way.
Score at this point: 2 RED FLAGS. (No ingredient list + mandatory AutoShip)
Phone service and Amazon reviews
At this point, there was no doubt in my mind that we were looking at a scam. However, more evidence would be a good idea in order to make it clear to my wife that Perricone’s Cold Plasma Sub-D really was a bad deal from any angle and not just a figment of my infomercial-hating imagination.
There’s a number listed on the website. Call that number to place an order over the phone, it says.
I called it.
The usual cheery computer voice greeted me and put me on hold with slightly upbeat elevator music. Every so often, another cheery computer voice came on to tell me how glad they were I called, how busy the operators were, and how they’d get to me at the first possible opportunity.
When the operator came on, I intended to ask just one question: Was it possible to place an order without any AutoShip commitment? If not, we were done. If it could be done, then maybe….
I needn’t have bothered to think that one through. No human ever interrupted Muzak Forever to talk to me. It’s highly likely they don’t ever have a human come on to talk to a customer. I called at around 10:30 p.m. and stayed on the line for a full 30 minutes.
Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Updating the score: 3 RED FLAGS. (No ingredient list + mandatory AutoShip + no human answering the phone.) Interesting.
Enough to share my findings with Pam?
Mmm…no. Not quite yet. How be we take a looksee at a few Amazon reviews, presuming there are any?
Oh wow. It’s on Amazon, all right–with the worst set of reviews I’ve ever seen listed for any product, ever. A few people like it, but the rest…wow.
Some of the complaints:
Strong fishy smell…reeks…gave me a rash…no noticeable results…gave my Mom chicken skin…
Perhaps the “best” review of all was by “Deuces” of Oklahoma City, who said:
“I almost never rate anything, but after putting this on, I had to rush to the computer and warn anyone who wants to spend money on it: IT SMELLS LIKE SOMETHING DIED. It may give great results in the end. I do not know because I couldn’t stand the smell and washed it off!!”
Guess that means we’re up to 4 RED FLAGS. (No ingredient list + mandatory AutoShip + no human answering the phone + horrible Amazon reviews)
Now it was time to call Pam over, show her what we had.
The disappointment in her eyes was harsh. Heartbroken, she was, feeling betrayed. “How could he?” She asked, referring to snake oil salesman Nicholas Perricone, the Board Certified dermatologist and rather obvious ripoff artist. “Giving people hope like that….” She trailed off.
I wanted to smack somebody. Somebody specific. However, we settled for avoiding the scam and let it go at that.
Ah. Except for one thing. Those three “official” looking website page headings? We took a quick look at them. There was no science. No clinical trials. Not one bit of proof. It was all hype, all watch-my-left-hand stuff.
You got it. 5 RED FLAGS. (No ingredient list + mandatory AutoShip + no human answering the phone + horrible Amazon reviews + menu headings that lie when they refer to science, clinical trials, and proof)
Is Perricone MD Cold Plasma Sub-D neck cream a scam?
We believe so. We really do.
A couple of final notes about that “Clinical Results” page.
Note the second line on the page where it says, “Extraordinary results after 45 days of application.”
Canny marketing trick right there. If the purchaser is conditioned up front to expect nothing for the first 45 days, she (I’m guessing not many men buy this stuff, though I could be wrong) is going to be easier to suck into that 2nd month’s supply of Cold Plasma Sub-D product. (Can you spell AutoShip?)
Moving on to the percentages (all in the 80’s and all, most likely, made up out of thin air)…percentages of what?
We think we know. We think positive results “were obtained by 87% of the people who got paid to say that”.
Then again, we could be biased. Scams like this do tend to make sceptics out of the truest of believers.
P.S. Did we mention that Perricone MD Cold Plasma Sub-D is really, really expensive? No, that’s not a red flag. We just thought you’d like to know.