Adami: Hair Club Customer Says He Wasn't Initially Told True Cost of Maintaining 'new Look'

Cornwall chiropractor Paul Poirier is really happy with his hairpiece as he says it makes him look 10 years younger.What he doesn't like is that Hair Club's Ottawa salon didn't tell himupfront how much he could be spending afterward to keep his"new looks."Poirier, who has undergone multiple surgeries for brain cancer and wanted to cover up the scars from the operations, found out thismonth that the $3,500 he dished out to Hair Club for a new hairpiece inSeptember would only be a fraction of an enhanced maintenance program itrecently suggested to itsclient.He says his story should serve as a cautionary tale as hair-replacement clients need to know what they could be getting into involvinglong-term costs.Initially, says Poirier, he was led to believe that six months after getting his new hair - which included maintenance and two new wigsin the third and fifth months to simulate growth - a new maintenance program would kick in that would include washing, coiffing and reapplication with an adhesive.The contract stipulates the client must return to Hair Club "every four to eight weeks for proper care, servicing and grooming" at a cost of $109 per visit, excluding HST. The contractalso says information on additional services will be offered though it doesn't provide any details.Poirier and a friend whom hereferred to the clinicsay they wereleft with the distinct impression when they signed their contracts that the $109 maintenance program included new hairpieces when they became worn. However, Ottawa Hair Club managing director Joseph El-Dick says hairpiecesare replaced for $2,000 each under thatagreement.During Poirier's last visit to the salon about two weeks ago, when his sixth month with his new hairpiece was drawing to a close, Hair Club startedtouting much more expensive maintenanceprograms - sold on a monthly basis with multiple salon visits and new wigs. The most expensive program called the "premier," costs $1,539 a month plus HST and comes with unlimited salon visits and 52 wigs - one for every week of the year.The one recommended toPoirier - the "silver" - is listed at $325 plus HST and includes five additional salon visits a year and five hair pieces. Though the Hair Club staffer acknowledged that $109 program still existed, he says he felt the sales pressure was clearly on to get him into anenhanced service agreement. But he didn't commit and left.Poirier was ticked. Why hadn't Hair Club divulged the costlier maintenance programs before he signed his contract In an email sent to Poirier this week, El-Dick says there was no attempt to mislead him. "The preferred client programs are generally introduced towards the end of the (initial six months) simply because we get a better understanding of the client's preference for hair changes and frequency of visits (some want new hair every month some every four months)."Poirier, 49,figures if he lives another 20 years and agreed to the "silver" program, total cost, including HST and travel costs between Cornwall and Ottawa, would be in the $100,000 range. In comparison, the "premier" program with a new hair piece every week, would come to $417,000 over 20 years. The original maintenanceprogram offered to him last September would have cost between $15,000 and $30,000 over 20 years - as clients can attend bimonthly and only pay per visit.Though Poirier was upset with the prospect of additional costs, he says his wife suggested he enrol in the silver program since he was so pleased with Hair Club's results. "I said: I'm not a woman," recalledPoirier after he contactedthe Citizen. "I'm not going to spend ($100,000) on my hair. I'd rather go bald than do that."Though Poirier had to drive from Cornwall to the Ottawa salon for servicing, he says he really didn't mind as Hair Club staff made it an enjoyable experience. And, "I love my hair," he says, as it looks like the real thing and makes him feel and appear younger.The Public Citizen contacted El-Dick three times this week. During the first call, he said he wished Poirier had called him first. El-Dick sent him an email to explain that he was still entitled to the original maintenance package of $109. "He is under no obligation to commit" to any of the pricier programs, which would allow him to changethe density and length of his hair piece, said El-Dick. He said he thought it was something Poirierwanted to do.During the second phone call, El-Dick said he offered Poirier a hair transplant discounted by $3,500 to cover his initial costfor his wig. Or, he could take the $109 maintenance package, and El-Dickwould throw in four hair pieces a year for as long as Poirier remained a member at the salon."I'm ready to do whatever he wants to make him happy.""I've done over 1,000 client consultations. He is the first one that I am not able to come to an agreement with. ... In his last email, it was pretty clear he didn't want to talk to me."The third time, El-Dickreiterated the offer of four hairpieces a year as part of the $109 package and said he would email Poirier again. He did andhe offered another option and it makes Hair Club look pretty fair: A full $3,500 refund.

Adami: Hair Club Customer Says He Wasn't Initially Told True Cost of Maintaining 'new Look' 1

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