Thursday, November 5, 2009

TANSTAAFL and Tooth Whitening

So everyone's always looking out for the good deals, especially now with the economy being what it is and so many dealing with reduced hours or wages, or being laid off. And there are lots of people out there right now looking to take advantage of you. The phrase "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch," or TANSTAAFL, has been around for ages, although it was popularized by Robert Heinlein in the mid 20th century, and it's a very good phrase to remember whenever you come across some internet offer that touts a supposedly free or very cheap version of some expensive procedure or product.

The one that seems to be exploding all over the internet is the tooth whitening scam. You'll see a little blurb that tells you that some housewife or teacher discovered this fantastic cheap alternative to the expensive products or procedures you can get through your dentist to whiten your teeth. I think this is especially enticing right now. You've been out of work for months, and finally land an interview. You really need the job, it looks like a really great company, and you want to make sure you give an excellent impression, and what better way than to start out with a brilliant smile when you walk in the door?

So you find this blog or website that says for just a few dollars in shipping you can get these two different tooth whitening product samples from two different companies, and if you use them together you get these fantastic results, and you just cancel after receiving your trial shipment. Sounds easy, right?

Well, first of all, where's the data that says these two products are safe to use in combination with each other? There's a good chance you will do serious damage to your teeth. Some kinds of whitening work because they actually strip off the enamel or calcium from your teeth, weakening them and making them more susceptible to cavities, give you sensitivity issues, or weaken the tooth enough that you'll be more likely to chip or break a tooth. A cheap fix for a bright smile could end up to be very costly in the long run.

Products such as these go through review and are approved for specific use by the FDA. Think these two products being used together have gone through that same review process? Really? Nope, neither do I.

And to make it even better? That "free" or "cheap" thing? It's a complete scam. All these blogs and websites that are supposedly written by these people just like you? They're shills for the companies that make these products.

Here's a bunch of examples, found in about a 10 minute Google search. See any similarities between all of these?

A mummy from Princeton, NJ, discovered how you can whiten your teeth for free at home

Megan from Seattle, Washington (gee, she might be my neighbor!) has a teeth whitening success story! But wait, when you click on the article, where does it say this mom is from?

A schoolteacher and fulltime mom shares her trick for whiter teeth

An average, humble mother of two has this trick to a whiter smile!

By pure dumb luck this woman discovered on two products that when combined made her teeth whiter!

This woman took advantage of an amazing free trial offer and has agreed to share her results with us!

A typical average mom found a way of mixing two separate teeth whitening product trials

Oh, look, another mom from Seattle! Or is she?

You'll call, you'll sign up for the free trial, give over your credit card number, and you'll find out that you won't be able to cancel it in time. So add to those few dollars you pay in shipping another $150-200 minimum, if you're lucky, and monthly charges of the same amount for months afterwards if you're not.

Here's an article on tooth-whitening trials complaints. And here's another blogger who explains how these websites are coded to change where these miraculous moms are from when each of you clicks on the link, to make it seem more personal and applicable to you.

I've seen similar scams for fabulous diets too, usually involving free samples of acai berry juice.

Please spread the word!


Made By Tammy said...

Thanks for the wonderful info! Great reminder around the Holidays and all year.

Dawno said...

Just shared this on Face Book, thanks for the research on this!