Melbourne Magistrates’ Court has imposed a civil pecuniary penalty of $100,000 on Hair Science International Pty Ltd (Hair Science) for making false claims that its treatment could regrow hair - when clients are actually given a hairpiece.
The Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria alleged that Hair Science represented that it could replicate hair from a client, grow it on synthetic liquid skin (similar to that used on burns victims) and then attach this hair to the client’s scalp.
Hair Science represented that the synthetic skin would ‘marry-up’ with the client’s scalp and the `cloned’ hair would then grow like normal hair.
The business claimed its ’cosmetic follicle replacement’ or ‘non-surgical hair transplanting’ was made possible by the emerging science of ‘non-surgical dermatological epidermis applications’.
However, consumers claimed that - after paying $6000 to $8000 - Hair Science provided them with a poor-quality hairpiece which was glued onto their head. The hairpiece needed to be re-attached every 5-6 weeks for an additional fee each time.
The company made false representations that it could ‘re-grow hair’ and used AFL footballers Brent Guerra and David Hale as examples. However, it admitted that it had not re-grown the players’ hair, but had fitted them with hairpieces.
The court declared that Hair Science International Pty Ltd, Steve Sindiris (its former director) and Joseph Zwaigoft (‘a senior hair-loss specialist’) had each engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct, or conduct likely to mislead or deceive, in contravention of Victorian Fair Trading Act 1999.
It also found that Hair Science had engaged in similar contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) (Victoria).
Between 1 September 2010 and 13 November 2012, Hair Science falsely represented that it could:
- or would regrow a person’s hair, no matter what stage of hair loss that person had reached
- or did guarantee such hair regrowth at any stage of baldness via its exclusive techniques
- regrow a client’s hair in six to seven weeks using hair-cloning techniques
- arrange to clone samples of hair taken from clients
- grow the cloned hair on skin, in a laboratory, and then attach this to the client’s scalp
- attach natural, cloned hair to a client’s scalp by a non-surgical transplantation technique, and
- had regrown the hair of the two AFL footballers.
The court imposed a civil pecuniary penalty of $100,000 on Hair Science for breaching the ACL. It imposed injunctions restraining the company (including its employees, officers or agents), Mr Sindiris and Mr Zwigoft from making false representations.
Hair Science was also ordered to publish a public notice in the Herald Sun newspaper, on four separate weekdays, and on the company’s website, detailing the court’s decision.
The court also ordered that Hair Science provide all clients with an ‘Important notice to consumers’ advising them of the actual treatment, when they entered into an agreement.
Mr Sindiris was ordered to pay court costs of $9604, while Mr Zwaigoft and Hair Science must pay costs of $2358 and $3179, respectively.
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