Kitty’s Consumer Beware! (WARNING!)

Kitty’s Consumer Beware!

2009 note: Cathey Baker, owner of Kitty’s Consumer Beware, was reported by the Dallas Morning News to have died on February 5, 2009 in Garland, Texas. The information below is for archival purposes. I will post updates if anything regarding the site changes.

Archived information

"Kitty’s Consumer Beware!" is a website which masquerades as an objective source of consumer information on hair removal. Unfortunately, it’s actually a censored mixture of truth and fiction maintained by a quack.

Contact information

Address: 230 Lake Ridge Village Ctr., #409 Dallas, Texas 75238 (postal drop box)
Address: KaleidoGrafix, 2915 Nova Drive Garland, Texas 75044
Address: P.O. Box 452033 Garland, Texas 75045-2033
Phone: 214-503-6080 
972-414-8562 (1996)
972-414-8562 (1997)
800-757-2098 (1997)
214-503-6080 (2002)
972-675-2791 (2005) Joseph Glenn 5513 Naaman Forest Blvd, Garland, TX 75044
Fax: 972-495-7623

website: http://www.consumerbeware.com
email: [email protected] Baker, Cathey  (CABA165)
email: [email protected] Cook, AK  (CABA166)   (the "CABA" is because this was originally under Cathey Baker)

Names associated with this site:

Katherine Cook
A.K. Cook
Kitty Cook
Cathey A. Baker

Background

Assumed names

The administrator uses the name “Katherine Cook" or "Kitty" on the site, in articles, even in letters to the FDA. But there is no real person at Kitty’s Consumer Beware by those names.

In reality, "Kitty" is a promoter for Guaranty Hair Removal electric tweezers, a scam device which claims permanent hair removal without published clinical data for proof. “Kitty” promotes it on this thinly-veiled sales site with disputed studies.

Hosts other quack sites: the GHR connection

“Kitty” owns a company called KaleidoGrafix and does web hosting through webspinner.net. GHR sites are all on webspinner.net and have been for many years. webspinner.net hosts:

Kitty’s Consumer Beware (consumerbeware.com)
KaleidoGrafix (wow-me.com)
Guaranty Hair Removal (wow-me.com/sns)
Guaranty Hair Removal (wow-me.com/GHR)
Guaranty Hair Removal (wow-me.com/mirrorimage/frmain.htm)
Guaranty Hair Removal (webspinner.net/ghr)
Guaranty Hair Removal (hairfree.com)
Guaranty Hair Removal (ghrelectrolysis.com)
Guaranty Hair Removal (ghrpersonal.com)
Guaranty Hair Removal (smoothnsilkie.com)

( = removed/revised in April 2001 to transfer to Kitty’s Consumer Beware, another GHR promotional site owned by "Kitty.")

( = removed in January 2002)

“Kitty” did design work for the GHR sales sites and listed them in the KaleidoGrafix portfolio. “Kitty” put up consumerbeware.com in 1998 to help quacks like Judith Stephens and others promote their businesses without having their more outrageous claims questioned by consumer activists. "Kitty" claims on the main page: “No hair removal products or equipment are sold from this website.” Although you can’t literally buy a GHR from consumerbeware.com, “Kitty” allows GHR to be sold by allowing disputed GHR studies to reside on the site, complete with direct links to where you can buy GHR. [note: on 9 April 2001, banner links to GHR on the above pages were removed and replaced with links to "Kitty’s" Beware Board. Direct links to the manufacturer via email remain.]

"Kitty" allows business associate and client Judith Stephens to promote GHR on Kitty’s Consumer Beware with the following claims:

GHR has “Studies conducted and reviewed by FDA.” No studies were conducted by FDA.

"In 1991, after extensive clinical study, several galvanic tweezer manufacturers received FDA clearance to market their equipment as permanent hair removal." Clearance actually came in 1990 for AHRS, with copycat GHR getting cleared a year later. [note: on 9 April 2001. "Kitty" changed 1991 to 1990, but the sentence is still false and misleading.]

"The galvanic tweezer, in contrast to needle epilators, uses the hair itself to conduct electrical current to the hair root." Clinical data indicates this is not going to result in enough energy to cause permanent hair removal as claimed.

FDA violations

In 1997, “Kitty” was cited by FDA for illegal claims about GHR on the wow-me.com domain. “Kitty” has direct links from the Consumer Beware promotional site to the GHR sales sites, both hosted on the same servers. Try this or this for example. [note: on 9 April 2001, banner links to GHR on the above pages were removed and replaced with links to Kitty’s Consumer Beware, another GHR promotional site. Direct links to the manufacturer via email remain.]

Disputed clinical data

“Kitty” allows business associate and client Judith Stephens to put disputed "clinical data" on the site which were clearly stolen either by GHR or AHRS. The same disputed studies have appeared on Consumer Beware and other GHR sales sites hosted by "Kitty." This promotional material stays up without any warning to consumers that the studies have been falsified. Anyone who is truly interested in consumers’ best interests would not leave false and misleading promotional material on their website. It’s not only unethical, it’s illegal. You can view the disputed studies side by side on the FDA website. (PDF: Requires PDF reader)

Censorship of opposing views

"Kitty" removes any references to sites that don’t match what she and her clients want you to think. Take a look at how a typical consumer question about hairfacts get answered to see how childish and controlling "Kitty" tries to be.

In mid-October 2001, "Kitty" removed all reference to the highly-respected consumer health fraud site QuackWatch, because Kitty’s Consumer Beware censors all facts that oppose her clients’ narrow agendas. It shows why Kitty’s Consumer Beware is on my list of unreliable information sources.

A legitimate site does not censor scientific arguments made by those with opposing views. Try posting data from this site or from QuackWatch on the Beware Board and you’ll see why it’s an unreliable source of information.

note: on 9 April 2001, "Kitty" mentioned on the Beware Board: "All banned IP addresses have been removed from the "ban list". You are welcome to post your questions here… Your posts are welcome evidence to the malicious lies and unfair business practices directed against KaleidoGrafix by all affiliates of John/Jane Doe AKA Andrea James."

"Kitty" also says not to post copyrighted materials of mine to the site. Anyone has permission to quote from hairfacts.com under "Fair Use" conditions of copyright law. Just cite the referring page and put quotations around the selected text. As discussed in my legal disclaimer below, you don’t need permission to link to this site or to post reference links.

In 2002, "Kitty" was back to banning most readers for asking about hairfacts. This sort of censorship goes to show that the "Kitty" site is about sales, not facts. Their concern for consumers stops as soon as it conflicts with their own self-interests.

"Kitty" moderators are often clients

"Kitty" claims that she does all this out of the goodness of her heart. On 30 May 2002, "Kitty" posted this on her own board:

I don’t have any bio page because the site isn’t about me. But, no, I’m not in a hair related occupation and I’m no longer a client. I became involved with hair removal on the internet when I sold a hair removal device (97 & 98), invented by one of our design customers, which had/has FDA clearance for permanent hair removal. I posted on some forums and was frequently insulted and cursed at. I got mad and decided these kind of intolerant and biased people needed an economics lesson – namely that the market is controlled by consumers and not practitioners.

I started consumerbeware.com in 1998 so that other consumers could have a place to openly discuss hair removal without being verbally abused by industry wackos. All of the HR forums that existed in 1998 were targeted at one method and there was no place where consumers could compare methods in a friendly atmosphere. I admit I thought I was going to save other consumers but that’s another story.

I pay for all hosting and design out of my pocket and have never accepted any contribution whatsoever because I feel it would compromise my objectivity. I do not sell any hair related products, services or equipment. I don’t accept any monies for HR related advertisements on the site. I don’t ask consumers to compensate me for my time or money spent working on the site.

All of the moderators on the site are in the hair removal business except for PrettyLady (she moderates the emotional forum because she is a great motivator and has been there).  Moderators do not get paid except in satisfaction of knowing they are helping others. I didn’t know any of the moderators before I started the website but met Shelby and Judy when they came to Dallas for a conference a couple of years ago. I spoke to all of the moderators by phone before making them moderators because I like to be sure they are able to discuss issues without getting angry when someone disagrees.

Actually, the only guy making money on this deal is my backbone provider and he’s probably counting the gigs of bandwidth as I type. 

As far as "Kitty" not making money from the hair removal industry, that’s ridiculous. Many Consumer Beware moderators and contributors are actually "Kitty" clients!

The "Kitty" site has always been a thinly-veiled advertising platform for her clients to promote their practices. Below is just a partial list of sites "Kitty" & pals have hosted and still host via webspinner.net/a1host.net:

Judith Stephens
GHR electric tweezer
hairfree.com
216.83.168.218
216.83.167.4

David Hardee
Laserbeam
epilate.com
epilatormuseum.com
216.83.168.224
216.83.168.223

Shelby Owens
laseawayhair.com
216.83.168.152
Judy Adams
laserblazers.com
208.16.215.180

Michael Green
nomorehair.com
216.83.168.154

Marissa Lee (Copeland)
betterlase.com
216.83.167.5

Esthetica Laser Hair Removal
gethairless.com
216.83.167.20

Carole Warren
advancedlaserhairremoval.com
216.83.168.170

etc., etc.

"Kitty" & co. make plenty of money hosting all those client– er, I mean moderator– websites on her commercial– er, I mean consumer forum…

How to tell this is a quack site

As QuackWatch founder Stephen Barrett , M.D. says, “Quackery’s paramount characteristic is promotion (`Quacks quack!’)… Most promoters are unwitting victims who share misinformation and personal experiences with others.” Most regular posters on this board promote a method of hair removal they champion, from laser to homemade concoctions.

Reading about other people’s experiences during and immediately after a hair removal procedure can often be very useful. However, when someone makes observations about how this or that product is affecting hair growth, especially claims of reducing or removing hair permanently, things often take a left turn into quackery.

“Kitty” encourages consumers to post their own "discoveries," tests, and results. Relying on this type of anecdotal information is like buying a stock based on a tip you read on an internet message board. These comments could be made by anyone, including salespeople or crackpots, and there’s no way to verify their validity. There’s simply not enough quantified factual information about the poster or their results to make a valid scientific assessment.

Consumer "tests" like this are textbook quackery. Quacks know it appeals to some consumers’ curiosity and vanity to disregard scientific evidence in favor of personal experience — to “think for yourself.” As Dr. Barrett writes:

“Most people who think they have been helped by an unorthodox method enjoy sharing their success stories with their friends. People who give such testimonials are usually motivated by a sincere wish to help their fellow humans. Rarely do they realize how difficult it is to evaluate a ‘health’ product on the basis of personal experience.”

As evidenced by Vaniqa clinical data, you cannot scientifically rule out the placebo effect or coincidence based on one person’s experience. Of 201 patients, over one-third who used a placebo were assessed by physicians as either “improved” or “marked improvement.”

Dr. Barrett also notes: “Since we tend to believe what others tell us of personal experiences, testimonials can be powerful persuaders. Despite their unreliability, they are the cornerstone of the quack’s success.”

Some people don’t believe “Kitty” is a quack because she seems so concerned and supportive. As Dr. Barrett says, quacks usually portray themselves as "nice" or positive while suggesting that their critics are not. Quacks portray themselves as innovators and suggest that their critics are rigid, elitist, biased, and closed to new ideas.

In addition to "Kitty" (Member #3), the following moderators/members frequently contribute to the mixture of truth and misinformation on Kitty’s "Beware Board":

Alison Sahoo (#5): Lasertrolysis of Naples (Florida)
Shelby Owens (#6): Laser Associates of Northwest Florida
Judith Stephens (#15): Guaranty Hair Removal (Texas)
Judy Adams (#31): Laser Blazers (Florida)
David Hardee (#39): Laserbeam Hair Removal Centers (Alabama)
Elaine Lariscey (#54): Southeast Regional Laser Center (Georgia)
Michael Green, M.D. (#275): Light Care Skin and Laser Center (Illinois)
Joel Kutun (#353): Marcelle C. Kutun Electrolysis & Laser Specialists, Inc. (New York)

Bottom line: On a quack site, you can’t really think for yourself. You have to take everyone’s word. On a legitimate consumer site where you can truly think for yourself (like this one), statements get backed up with hard evidence you can go check yourself.

Conclusion

Quacks have flocked to Kitty’s Consumer Beware, where they have a safe haven to make unsubstantiated claims and give glowing testimonials that don’t reflect scientific evidence about their methods. Those seeking reliable uncensored information should head over to hairtell.com.

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