OK, this one has been a long time coming.
Kalo is an over-the-counter topical hair inhibitor by Nisim International, one of two Canadian companies that operate largely out of the reach of US Food and Drug Administration regulators (the other is Ultra Hair Away).
Kalo should be avoided by all consumers.
Below are a few of the unsubstantiated claims on the Kalo website: </font><blockquote><font size=“1” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>quote:</font><hr /><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”> “Kalo safely and effectively inhibits unwanted body hair from growing back permanently. You will never need to deal with waxing, tweezing, laser or electrolysis again.”
“Kalo is a true permanent hair removal solution. Kalo does not need to be used for the rest of your life.”
“Eliminate unwanted body hair forever.”</font><hr /></blockquote><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Kalo is a textbook case of a quack product, with three big red flags: Testimonials, Money-back Guarantee, and Pseudoscientific reports. Any one of them is a good indicator you’re dealing with a quack product, but all three together makes it almost certain.
Quacks know testimonials are powerful persuaders, so they almost always include them in their sales pitches.
Whenever you read a testimonial, remember that there are people who swear they’ve been abducted by aliens, too. Testimonials are extremely unreliable. You can’t verify them by contacting the person who made the claim, and even if you could, relying on this type of anecdotal information is not scientifically sound.
Quacks know it appeals to some consumers’ curiosity and vanity to disregard scientific evidence in favor of personal experience – to “think for yourself.” Those who think an unorthodox method works usually don’t intend to mislead anyone-- they are usually motivated by a sincere wish to help others. They just don’t realize how difficult it is to evaluate a hair removal product’s long-term effectiveness on the basis of personal experience.
Below are quotations from other consumer watchdogs about the problems of testimonials.
Comment on a diabetes consumer site:
</font><blockquote><font size=“1” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>quote:</font><hr /><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”> They provide no scientific evidence, only “testimonials” by people who have been “miraculously cured” or whose medical condition has been “dramatically improved” by the use of their product. Testimonials are not science and have no weight at all in the determination of whether or not a particular product has any medicinal use. </font><hr /></blockquote><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>From a diet consumer site: </font><blockquote><font size=“1” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>quote:</font><hr /><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>
Quacks often use case histories, testimonials, and subjective evidence to justify their exaggerated claims. Quacks try to appear trustworthy by having well-known athletes promote their product. Testimonials evidence is by definition biased and unreliable. Scientists report their studies in reputable journals, where their work is reviewed and evaluated by other scientists prior to publication. Controlled experiments that can be confirmed by repeating the study are the best way to document the truth of the information. </font><hr /></blockquote><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>From the QuackWatch website </font><blockquote><font size=“1” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>quote:</font><hr /><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”> We all tend to believe what others tell us about personal experiences. But separating cause and effect from coincidence can be difficult. If people tell you that product X has cured their cancer, arthritis, or whatever, be skeptical. They may not actually have had the condition. If they did, their recovery most likely would have occurred without the help of product X. Most single episodes of disease end with just the passage of time, and most chronic ailments have symptom-free periods. Establishing medical truths requires careful and repeated investigation – with well-designed experiments, not reports of coincidences misperceived as cause-and-effect. That’s why testimonial evidence is forbidden in scientific articles, is usually inadmissible in court, and is not used to evaluate whether or not drugs should be legally marketable. (Imagine what would happen if the FDA decided that clinical trials were too expensive and therefore drug approval would be based on testimonial letters or interviews with a few patients.)
</font><hr /></blockquote><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>2. Money-back guarantee
Picture this: You see a professional-looking ad on television or the internet with Testimonials (see above) with everyday people claiming how wonderful this new product is. You think, “Wow, it worked great for them, and it’s not that much-- I should order. Besides, they say I can get my money back if I’m not satisfied.”
You cannot fail to lose, right?
Actually, THEY cannot fail to lose.
There are three ways a quack company can win with a money-back guarantee:
- Count on low rate of returns
Market research shows that very few of us actually bother to ask for our money back on a substandard product. The time and hassle is apparently too much for most of us. Con artists know this too and use the money-back guarantee knowing most people will most likely throw their product in the trash when it does not work.
- Make the terms of refund impossible
Other fraudsters won’t leave anything to chance. They may offer a money-back guarantee, but then tell you must use the product for several months to see if there are any results. In several months time, their web site and contact details may no longer be valid. Alternatively, they may add clauses to the money back guarantee. Perhaps you must use the product following instructions to the letter. When the product fails to work the seller may claim you did not follow the instructions properly and so you forfeit any right to your money back. Some even give impossible packing instructions that void the guarantee if not followed to the letter. Of course, some of the worst ones may simply ignore your demands for your money back.
For more, check out:
Scams 101: Anatomy of a worthless guarantee
- Still make money even with high returns
Let’s do the math.
Let’s say “Brand X” costs $20 plus $10 shipping and handling. Since this product is made with cheap, low-grade ingredients, there is little or no cost to make it and they only pay for packaging and promotion, probably about $5.00 in total per unit. They’re even making a little extra on the shipping (let’s say $5).
OK, so now they’re clearing $25.00 a bottle. That’s why these companies can offer commissions of $5 to $10 per bottle to people who do the selling for them. The makers still get $15 to $20 profit every time someone else does the selling for them, and they just have to convince other people they’ll make $10 every time someone clicks an ad on their website. Some even have tiered commission rates for recruiting other salespeople, which is just a kind of pyramid scheme. Soon, thousands of sites all have banner ads for an amazing new permanent hair removal spray.
Typical response rates on sales pitches are 1% to 2%, so if they only get 2000 visitors a day (which is extremely low), they’re making 20 to 40 sales. That’s $500 to $1000 in profit, per day, from a little website.
Now then, for arguments sake, let’s say that “Brand X” is absolutely terrible, but they honor their guarantee. 50% of the clients return the product, and they all get their money back.
Even in this absolute worst-case scenario, “Brand X” is still clearing $12.50 per bottle and making $250 to $500 in profit per day for a very small operation.
Some people would do a lot worse things than sell scam hair removal products for that kind of money.
One of the biggest hair removal scammers made $75 million in one year. The smaller quacks are happy to make even a tiny faction of that.
Greed is a very powerful force in some people’s lives, and a very corrupting one, too. Heck, there have been a few fleeting moments when I sit in my small apartment and think about how easy it would be to make millions ripping people off with some unproven product. Even a well-intentioned quack who thinks their product truly works often starts getting the money and starts making even more extravagant claims to make more sales.
Some even claim to have invented a spray that permanently gets rid of hair forever. That’s a claim that is simply not supported by any published scientific evidence. And that brings me to:
3. No published scientific evidence
Kalo promotes itself with an unpublished report commissioned by the manufacturer and allegedly conducted on 17 women far away in Russia.
This pseudo-scientific report is no substitute for a clinical trial performed by a third party and published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
There are no objective quantified data-- the summary is a vague “subjective evaluation,” an arbitrary rating on a scale of 0 to 100. Worse, they don’t even explain what their 0 to 100 scale represents. Is it consumer satisfaction? Improvement? What?
The only quantified data they give is completely unscientific. Percentages are based on hair counts within an area the size of your pinky fingernail, which is far too small and area to get a statistically significant sample size.
There is also no control, meaning that they did no count in an untreated area for comparison.
Finally, there is no placebo area, meaning that they did not do anything to see if the improvement was caused by a placebo effect. A real scientific study would apply a product without any active ingredient to see if observers notice any difference. Hair growth is very difficult to measure, and without controls in place, it’s impossible to make valid quantified observations.
If they had controlled by testing the product against waxing alone, they would have found that consumers who wax show “a significant decrease in the frequency of epilation,” to use their term, even without Kalo or other doubtful products.
Ask anyone who waxes, and they will tell you it gets easier after the first time or two.
Conclusion: this is a completely worthless unpublished report paid for by the manufacturer. It would NEVER be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, because it is utterly without scientific merit.
Testimonials, money-back guarantee, and an unscientific report that would never get published in a miilion years. Add to that extravagant unsubstantiated claims that using it will be painless and permanent (always the sign of hair removal quackery), and you have a textbook case of a quack product.
The only topical preparation that has done legitimate scientific research is Vaniqa. Because it is made by a reputable company, they do not claim it will have a permanent effect after you stop using it. There is no proof that any product can do this.
Kalo is a scam, pure and simple. Until they back up their claims of permanent hair removal with legitimate proof, you are better off keeping your money instead of wasting it on these quacks.
[ July 20, 2002, 12:04 PM: Message edited by: Andrea ]