Yes indeed, today I am referring to that famous acronym – P.R.A.T. The official dictionary definition of acronym is an abbreviation so old or familiar that no one remembers what its letters stand for.
So here is the reminder and explanation of what it means:
P – Purposely creating problems for people by bending the truth and twisting reality. (Wannabe Machiavellian, but not sophisticated enough)
R – Readily tries to discredit others.
A – Annoyingly claims to know better than anyone else.
T – Tediously moans, whinges and complains about everyone and everything.
In a nutshell, I encountered such a P.R.A.T last week, of course such people exist and we do our best to be polite, offer up “best wishes” and smiley faces to show our true intentions, but afore mentioned P.R.A.T’s blinkered sight ensures all is lost with any grown-up communication attempts. This P.R.A.T was also a potential student of hypnotherapy. He has enrolled on a course, but is not yet to start it and already has been complaining about the chairman of the NCH and comparing the quality of his courses to the one he is enrolled on??? Without being on either and not having even started his own training… Like I said, P.R.A.T.
This man, whilst comparing a 59p iPhone app to my hypnotic memory improvement system, which comprises of over 20 separate tracks of material, with 3 separate additional hypnosis sessions and is £29.77 (although can be purchased for half price in the members area, and actually comes free with one of our membership levels), suggested that I was somehow doing the world a disservice by not offering a money-back guarantee.
If you do not think my work represents good value, then no-one is forcing you to invest. You can indeed go and invest in something cheaper, I understand that and wish you the very best with your 59p iphone app. We are not cajoling anyone to become an online customer. Our marketing has developed enough to know that we cannot please everyone and as a result, we do not attempt to. We focus on those that we resonate well with and develop long-term relationships with those people… As our thriving members area and online community would suggest.
Tell me honestly what your thoughts are on this: Someone clearly considers this amount of money to be “quite expensive” by writing as much, and is asking “do you offer money back guarantee” in relation to the product. I know what I think when faced with that scenario. Am I being paranoid or would you think it too, even slightly?
In the 15 years I have been in this field, we spent most of those offering a money back guarantee. All successful internet marketers that mentored us over the years told us we should and we adhered accordingly.
Then we had one or two bad apples becoming more frequent and larger in number…. Those that would buy over £500.00 worth of my life’s work, all at once, download it all and then tell us they wanted a refund the next day, with no way enough time to listen to the programmes, let alone absorb it or benefit from it in any way, no chance that they could have robustly examined and applied the processes… Then if we politely questioned this refund request, they complained to Paypal and got their refund, who we all know have a strict policy that favours the consumer, especially when you offer a money-back guarantee. They knew and abused the system.
As I said, this is my life’s work, I am naturally protective though probably overly defensive when this occurs. So we made a business decision to stop offering lifetime guarantees a couple of years ago, as a result of these repeated experiences…. That said, if people are desperately unhappy with anything we offer, myself and Keith are both open to hearing from people… Our groups of students, many hundreds of members, thousands of ezine readers all know that and regularly communicate with us, we respond and react accordingly.
However, we decided this very weekend… For the vast majority of our audio programmes, we are going to put our balls back on the line and offer a money-back option for anyone not entirely satisfied… Though I still find it ominous when the first thing someone asks about a programme is whether or not we offer such… We’ll be integrating this back into the website over coming weeks and any programme which we do not offer a money-back guarantee on, we’ll be offering free samples of the programme to ensure people get the chance to use it.
Additionally, as a means of giving people ample opportunity to get used to my style and quality of work… We do offer several free audio programmes for download on the site, ebooks, many articles, and many, many hours of free podcasts as well as samples of volumes of our bigger audio programmes… All of which can give anyone the opportunity to make an informed decision about me and my work. I utterly and completely understand that my work is not for everyone and so we do all we can to enable people to make an educated and informed decision about investing in anything.
This (money back guarantee) is a debate that is contested in many hypnotherapy forums and I have had these discussions with peers and fellow professionals over the years.
We concur that it does probably make good business sense to offer such a guarantee for our audio sales, offers our potential customers some initial confidence and just because of those few people who abused the system with us previously, we’ll now choose not to allow that to affect us any longer.
Keith and I had bitterness and anger issues that I think we have managed to let go of to make this happen! 😉
As hypnotherapists, we are in business. If my business failed, I would not be able to see clients, teach my subject, or offer my work to others. There are hundreds and thousands of incredibly talented hypnotherapists out there, trained to very high standards… Yet not all of them get to actually demonstrate their skill or breadth of knowledge because their businesses fail and they do not reach enough people. It is all well and good suggesting you are in this field for altruistic reasons, but your altruism cannot be satisfied if no-one comes to see you or if you go bankrupt.
Online business and audio programmes aside… Our featured P.R.A.T says that he is going to offer a money-back guarantee to anyone not entirely happy with his face-to-face hypnotherapy services once he is qualified… Now this is totally different territory altogether….
Some of the better hypnotherapy organisations that I belong to, frown upon the use of guarantees in hypnotherapy and there are others than plain disallow the use of such to their members. Any hypnotherapist trained well to the highest standards, knows that each individual is unique and though we can offer some evidence base for the efficacy of many interventions used in our field, we cannot guarantee someone of success or of achieving absolutely what they wish. Though we aim to do so as best we can.
Imagine being one of those people who does not achieve the outcome they desired as a result of seeing the hypnotherapist offering a money back guarantee? Being one of those people who has now failed. A guarantee makes it black and white, right or wrong, success or fail. Would you want to leave feeling as though you had failed and therefore needed to take up a guarantee?
Whereas, if you are client centred and appreciate that each individual is unique and responds accordingly, then they’ll achieve the outcome in their own way with the collaboration of the hypnotherapist. That should be the attitude that the hypnotherapy is entered with. That should be the initial framework that the working alliance is forged upon. Not upon whether or not you are going to fulfil a guarantee pledge. A guarantee makes the emphasis all about the therapist and their capabilities… Successful hypnotherapy must be collaborative, it must require the client to involve themselves in the process.
I have written about research upon research that demonstrates the efficacy of hypnotherapy is amplified greatly when trust, empathy and motivation are in place prior to interventions (See Irving Kirsch’s work, for example) and I wonder how much of those you are going to have if you are working to a money-back guarantee? Or if the therapeutic relationship is framed with such?
In newspaper advertising (and all other mediums adhering to professional advertising standards) you cannot make such claims of anything being guaranteed to work, for example, and suggesting you offer a money-back guarantee does suggest similar.
Now then, I am still a member of the human race, I still act and respond according to however I feel at any given moment. I am not going to hide that behind some bland, biege-wearing bureaucratic, magnolia painted, mild mannered, supposedly professional response where I tippy toe around trying to please everyone concerned… And for those that do not resonate well with that, then you can go and track down a hypnotherapist that appeals more to you, there are many out there. These were and are my honest feelings on the subject, and you all know how I believe in congruency over and above fallacy and dressing things up in hyperbole.
Over the years of speaking at conferences, events and running webinars and teleseminars, peer supervisions groups, mentoring and the likes, my encounters have led me to know that I see more clients than most in my well-established hypnotherapy clinic. This could well sound conceited, it is not my intention. The truth is I do see what I consider to be a very healthy number of individual clients in my hypnotherapy practice.
If I was unprofessional and lacked compassion or the skills to do my job well, I simply would not see as many clients as I see, most of whom are referred to me by previous satisfied clients, people who got results and achieved their desired outcomes. I initially involved myself in this field out of a desire to do good, you regular readers know my story and how I arrived here. That desire to do good simply is not enough. I nearly went bankrupt in my early years of practice, and thank goodness I only had myself to support in those days, because if I had my family and mortgage then, I would have to have found another career. Very few hypnotherapy trainers equip their students well-enough to go into business and succeed.
Of course, we all go into these fields for some altruistic reasons, but we need to make a living too. And why oh why would I not want to secure my business in the best way possible? In a manner that I believe offers up the most viable and beneficial options for my business.
This blog is written every day for free, to thousands of subscribers, my ezine is free, over 2000 words every week and goes to thousands more, I offer studio recorded audio and ebooks for free. For very little investment (£4.77 a month) people can get every single one of the 50+ individual audio sessions as one of our membership options. I run a peer supervision group for free for hypnotherapists in Dorset and Hampshire and manage to bring in guest speakers from around the UK to come and speak for free for the benefit of my peers.
Of course, these things have business benefits for me, but I think that much greater value is gained by those involved with these services too.
All those of you that have been my students and that became my friend, that have been my clients, and that continue to follow my work – you all know me and what I am like… I can be a certain way sometimes, a way that provokes at times, a way that can rub someone the wrong direction at other times, but I think my work and endeavour overrides that, and the feedback I receive regularly convinces me of that.
If I were entering the field of hypnotherapy today, I’d take time to understand people, to establish alliances and make friends rather than start unduly publicly slating people before I had even started training, let alone had some experience of working in this field… All because of a lack of money-back guarantee… Something which many consider to be ethically and professionally flawed anyway.
I’d like to see some comradeship in this field, blimey, we encounter enough negativity via the media and have enough public misconception to tend with… There are very few of us that regularly show this field in a progressive light to an active, attentive audience… Here on this blog are hundreds of references to research, news articles, evidence base, paranormal-nonsense-busting and the likes… All as part of my business, and also in an attempt to champion our field of hypnotherapy. I truly do not understand those that simply seek conflict and some sort of dick-waving competition…
Those of you already in this field… Look out for this ilk of person. Sadly, they exist to disrupt and damage and will test your resolve if you let them… For anyone that has had this sort of person try and do them harm, go and have a look at my hypnosis session Shield of Invulnerability to help you through it.
Just finished reading, you’ve got a right to be up in the air about this, some people think they can beat the system and get something for nothing and then to suggest that he will make that silly offer to his clients. I agree P.R.A.T . On a lighter note, I love the way you write and the language you use, the more I read, the more I find myself thinking and even speaking to others in the same way, if that makes sense? Thanks for another great blog Adam 🙂
Thanks Gareth, though do bear in mind, that as of October… You’ll be loving forging your own style and embracing your own idiosyncrasies when applying all the great stuff in this field.
Thank you also Jamie, good hearing from you.
Adam, you do indeed write so well. As you get better known, more people encounter you, so there are more people wanting to pull you down. I am sure you know that.
I agree with ‘most’ of what you have said here, though if I agreed with everything, it might not be as much fun to read. Thanks for all the energy you put into everything you do, it really is appreciated.
Wow, you really ARE upset, Adam!
I have to say I’ve never actually noticed that you don’t offer a money back guarantee with the hypnosis audios I’ve purchased from you. Because I’ve never looked. I take the view that it’s my responsibility to do my ‘due diligence’ *before* purchasing these products, whether it’s by listening to free samples or getting a recommendation from a satisfied customer, or even requesting further information, because I know they’re just that kind of product. How could a guarantee that any hypnosis audio ‘works’ be meaningful? So much rests on factors that are outside of the hypnotist’s control. I have a number of mp3s that I’ve purchased over the years and given up on before I could possibly tell whether they work or not and I wouldn’t dream of complaining to the person who sold them to me because they might want to know how I used them and I would be honour bound to say, “Um … I listened a few times” and that would be my problem not theirs.
I can certainly understand potential customers wanting to be as sure as they possibly can be that a purchase will be money well spent. There’s a lot of flim-flam in the personal development world to the extent that trust is a major issue. But I would say it makes more sense to minimise risk in the beginning. Then you won’t be entering a marriage wondering if it will end in divorce, so to speak.
There’s also the issue of people believing that it takes 21 (or 28) days to establish a new habit. That’s the myth (I learned the hard way), the truth is that it takes as long as it takes. Perhaps if that was better understood in itself there would be more people willing to persevere rather than asking for their money back.
Anyway. I’m a very happy customer! No money back guarantee needed.
Off to listen to my Shield of Invulnerability session now. 🙂
Bob, thank you for your valued and very much appreciated response.
We are keen to respond to feedback and will continue to do so… But this guy read stuff into my communication with him that did not exist and then made an actual effort to tell people that publicly by blogging his slanted stance and then trying to highlight his vitriol to a well-known celebrity individual in this field – how downright destructive.
I know that the NLP purists will now jump up and say “the meaning of any communication is the response it receives” – Ok, I hear you and we have responded to the constructive elements of this experience in as best way as we can.
I’d love to chart it all here, but do not want to publicise this guy, he does not deserve that – But he purposely slanted the reality, deleted parts of our communication and just went all out to paint a negative picture and that is what I find a shame. He invested his energy is trying to make a professional in the field he is about to venture into, a way of his negative design.
Heck, we got to discuss money-back guarantees though and it raises some pertinent issues for the development of us all in this and related fields.
Cheers Bob 🙂
Well, what a silly chap! I do hope his training school teaches him how to present his arguments in a more considered manner, I wish them well. Although part of me would love to see him in our group and let you loose on him. Now that would be entertainment!
As a world champion consumer of ‘stuff’ myself, I have bought the odd bit of rubbish from time to time! If it wasn’t suitable for me, that’s my problem, isn’t it?
I can see the value of a money back guarantee with many products, but there is usually small print, you have to have used the product correctly and if you have not achieved the ‘guaranteed’ result, only then do you get your money back. Have you bought the correct product anyway? How do you measure you have used hypnosis ‘correctly’?
If a client asks me if I offer ‘money back if not satisfied’, I would wonder how committed to achieving their outcome that individual actually is. Are they putting all the responsibility on you to’ make it happen’ rather than making any effort themselves? Without their collaboration their desired outcome will not be achieved. And who will they deem to have been the person who failed?
Thanks for your contribution Lindsay, good hearing from you… I echo many of your sentiments, it is a tough call with how best to tone any guarantee and the message that you present with it… We’ll see if we can engineer it in a manner that suits who and how we are and I have heard from many hypnotherapists today regarding the subject.
As a side message – thank you for all the emails of support… I’ll ensure we get back on a coherent vibe for the reaminder of this week… 😉
I wonder if this guy asks for a refund at the cinema if the film doesn’t end the way he thinks it should?
As my Mum used to say, about idiots like this – “Ignore him…he’s probably just jealous”
Or set the stormtroopers on him! 😉
Hahaha Clare, my Mum used to say the very same.
*Slopes off to look for mobile number of stormtroopers*
I’ve learnt to trust the Universe/serendipity/chance to lead me to what’s right for me at the time. And that’s how I chanced upon your website. Random links, certain words catching my eye etc, and it just “felt right” (trying to avoid any new-agey claptrap here).
And so far I’ve not been disappointed. I’ve purchased a lot of your products, and they’ve been right place right time. When the product hasn’t “worked” for me, that’s always been because I’ve not followed the instructions or got sidetracked with other things, procrastinated or just been lazy.
Never entered my head to have a money back guarantee. Good job too because I might have valued the investment less. Maybe it’s useful, but if people aren’t prepared to take a risk, to invest in their future, that says more about the client than the therapist…
Keep on keeping on
All the best
Dave, thanks. Your comments are appreciated and even I can tolerate some new-agey clap-trap every once in a while when it is communicated politely 🙂
Well said, as always, Adam. And what a P.R.A.T. – him, not you!
Your blog is well-timed for me, particularly in terms of the arguments for and against offering money back guarantees, as I am just planning an initial launch of audio products for sale from my website. You’ve certainly confirmed my decision not to offer any guarantees.
My experience in business consultancy, training and, more recently, as a hypnotherapist has confirmed for me that if the client hasn’t made a real financial commitment they tend to not follow through with my products and services. In my training business, I experimented with offering evaluation places to prospective clients and got lots of takers. Unfortunately, most of them didn’t turn up on the day, sent a very junior replacement or failed take part fully in the course. The clients who paid for a trial place generally booked courses for more of their people.
Like you, I offer a lot of free material on my website and through my ezine as well as offering a free sample audio programme. That means that there’s no excuse for anyone saying they didn’t know what they were buying. If I buy an apple and then find when I eat it that I don’t like apples, then it wouldn’t be reasonable to ask for my money back, now would it!
I know that I will lose a few potential customers if I don’t offer a money back guarantee, but are they likely to be the sort of people who are going to put in the work needed to benefit from my products and services? I am in this business to make a living, but it’s important to me that I do it by helping people to improve their life – and their golf!
Andrew, I think you have hit the nail on the head and certainly what you say is very much my point of view too… Thpough others will disagree.
We once had a lady buy over £100.00 worth of audio programmes, then ask for a refund on the basis that she “did not really need it anymore” – it was like we were a library of some kind; lend the programme out, take a deposit, when the user has finished, we then give them the money back… Although they got to keep the programme anyway!
Of course, we’ll get bad apples prone to abusing such a system, but I would not want it to make us too cynical… We are in the therapy world after all!
Your contribution is very much valued here Andrew, thanks.
And he hasn’t even STARTED his training yet … Somehow I doubt there’s any point in “logically” arguing with this person, so probably best to simply shrug it off. It’s not that you’d have anything to prove Adam.
Mel, a voice of sanity and reason… Thank you.
You are quite, quite right… It has been shrugged… Though you know how I like to vent my spleen once a week or so in some kind of flawed Freudian cathartic manner. 🙂
Bizarre. I think you should refuse to sell someone the product if they ask about money back guarantees before they even buy a hypnosis programme….on the basis that they’ve already decided for themselves that it’s going to fail and it’s therefore a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Seriously though, very few treatments of any kind come with a money back guarantee-and it’s even less routine if the therapy itself involves a genuine input from the client. I’ve seen diet clinics advertising it….but apparently they’re incredibly strict in their definition of “compliance” so it’s not easy to avail of it. How could you assess compliance to an audio programme?!?
It’s laudable that you are doing this but I hope he’s only a small reason. Your products are actually really reasonably priced and even more so when you have the intermittent special offers on them. I know the money I spent on buying the smoking cessation programme for my sister was probably the cheapest and best present ever. She’s still a non-smoker years on. They can’t even claim that they don’t like your voice or manner-there’s a free trial!
Some people are just determined to be unhappy.
Thank you for that Dr Gráinne Murphy, I always appreciate your comments in this respect. Delighted to hear that your sister is still smoke-free too! 🙂
The profession of Hypnotherapy attracts people from various backgrounds, learning and understandings about how things should be. I know that I for one, had some marked preconceptions about the topic before I began as a student on your Clinical Hypnotherapy Diploma Course.
Of course, most of those went out the window after the first few hours as a pupil, I’m pleased to say, and I certainly never offered up my untrained thoughts on the subject or those leading the way to change.
I had previously read the afore mentioned complainer’s [can’t be bothered with the acronym just now] blog just after he had posted it. This is down to you and your wonderful ongoing support with the current webinar series you are developing, to help therapist’s and the like to grow their business and gain a good web presence. It’s amazing what Google Alerts throws at me over my breakfast.
I think that as with so many things in life, only those educated in a topic are qualified to criticise, or at least to have their criticism taken seriously.
As an educated shopper, he felt qualified to criticise your policy when comparing it to apparently similar retailers. Without a good understanding of the detriments a money back guarantee could suggest, it’s an easy mistake. Unfortunately, his rant included excerpts of your response which explained why you did not currently offer such a policy – as you have mentioned here – and he chose to disregard those.
Assuming he completes his training – on behalf of his potential clients, I hope he learns much about the art of communication and understanding from anothers point of view.
Keep up the great work.
Alan, thank you. Funnily enough, I only saw his blog work of fiction after he posted it due to blog alerts, because his blog title was the same as my book title, a ploy of sorts I guess…
Well played for applying what we taught in the business development webinar series! 🙂
Nonetheless, I think you are gracious and charitable in your reflections, and that is wonderful Alan. I hope much is learnt on his part during his training too… He may well be less of a P.R.A.T than I have suggetsed, but I am going to reassess my judgment when he offers up some evidence to demonstrate as much.