Ashy Bines: Fit or Fraud?
If you’re female, live in Australia, and are one of the many people who have Facebook, then you’ve probably heard of Ashy Bines. For those of you who haven’t, how could you not? She is Australia’s leading body transformation specialist after all. Or so she claims.
In less than a year, Ashy Bines has become a brand name. The 23 year old Gold Coaster made her start as a fitness model before deciding to put her fitness tips and tricks to paper and sell it as a ‘diet plan’ to girls around Australia. For roughly $75 ($69 +GST), you are told you’ll receive not only the ‘diet plan’ but access to a members only forum which claims to give you 24/7 support and guidance from qualified nutritionists, something Ashy is not. Many however have complained that the forum doesn’t provide the support they have paid for, with Ashy often telling people to Google things they want to know. The lack of customer support however, is not the only room of complaint when it comes to the ‘diet plan’. Once you pay that $75, you may be surprised to find that your new diet plan is a mere PDF sent to your email. There are many reviews of Ashy’s ‘diet plan’ on the web, such as the over 200 reviews on www.productreview.com.au, where many of the reviews are negative, though some are positive. One reviewer recently said, “Charging a ridiculous amount of money and getting a PDF of guidelines and access to a forum which quite frankly doesn’t offer much as Ashy is barely ever there to answer her clients questions.” So if that money you are paying isn’t going towards production, material, or shipping costs, this must be the greatest, most detailed, diet plan ever, right?
You will notice that I put ‘diet plan’ in quotations, because it really isn’t a diet plan at all. It is quite possible to read through all 29 poorly written pages in about 10 minutes. For $75, you don’t even get a document that’s grammatically correct. The amount of grammar mistakes, or lack of spaces between words, at least proves that Ashy probably wrote and edited it herself. Grammatical mistakes aside, the document should not be advertised as a plan, as it is only guidelines.
This is where the Facebook groups Clean Eating Diet Plan Waste of Money and ‘Ashy Bines Bikini Body Challenge = Waste of $’ which has over 11,000 members comes in. Many feel deceived by this ‘diet plan’, thinking they would be getting a plan, but really only getting basic guidelines. These Facebook groups were set up to to increase awareness and share experiences with the Ashy Bines product. An administrator for one of the groups, Anne O’Louglin, says that this group is not a hate page towards Ashy herself, but simply that Ashy “…has used deception to make sales”, and they are there to try and remedy that. However, if you read closely the description of her diet plan on Ashy’s clean eating website, you will see where she says, “…with my Clean Eating Diet Plan, I’ve put together all of my personal bikini eating guidelines to help you get an amazing body”. As with anything, you have to read the fine print to know exactly what you are getting. It does however sound contradicting to call your product a ‘diet plan’ but then describe it as guidelines. And not just any guidelines, but “very basic guidelines”, said Ashy herself in her interview on TodayTonight.
It is also important to point out that Ashy Bines Bikini Body Challenge and her diet plan are two different things. You can join the challenge and receive the diet plan plus you’ll get at minimum of three training sessions per week with trainers for twelve weeks. You can choose between three different challenges depending on what you want to achieve, for three different prices ranging from $37.50 + GST to $150 + GST per week, including a one off registration fee of $49.
If you break down Ashy’s diet plan into one sentence, it could be easily described as a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. Eat as much lean protein as you can and limit your carbohydrate intake to the morning. So how many of you spent $75 to gain that great piece of advice? Since Ashy isn’t a qualified dietician, I decided to seek one out to discuss this clean eating trend. I went to dietician Juliet Wiseman to discuss this ‘diet plan’, and whether there is really any scientific proof behind what Ashy is claiming and I found out something interesting. Ms. Wiseman says that, “High protein diets are unnecessary,” and that much of what Ashy claims in her plan, there is no scientific evidence behind. She says people should simply focus on eating as much fruit and vegetables as possible and exercising. Perhaps Ashy should have done her research before compiling her guidelines. So why has Ashy been so successful?
At only 23 years of age, she says she is close to her first million. But then again, she also says, “I’m not money driven”, yet helping girls for free just wasn’t an option I guess. The diet plan has sold over 20,000 copies, and ‘Ashy Bines’ seems to be a brand name, all by her doing of course. After creating this diet plan, and devising a 12 week challenge, she dived right into Ashy Bines products. You can now purchase your very own Ashy Bines protein powder called ‘Tone’, which will set you back roughly $80 for one kilo. You can also buy protein shakers, tank tops, and bracelets. Let’s get this straight; diet plan: check; 12-week challenge: check; protein powder: check; products: check; thousands of devoted Ashy followers that want to look just like her: check. Still wondering how this blonde beauty will soon be able to call herself a millionaire?
Any diet plan has the potential to be successful, because as Ms. Wiseman says, if you start cutting out the bad things, add the good, and start exercising, the pounds will inevitably begin to fall off. If one takes a look at the Ashy Bines Facebook page, which has over 293,000 likes, it is bombarded with before and after pictures which Ashy and her team have posted. A couple months ago when I first decided to “like” the Ashy Bines Bikini Body Challenge Facebook page, other “likers” could post comments and questions on the Facebook wall. When many of these comments became negative, the wall was shut down to anyone but Ashy and her team.
The administrators of the Waste of $ Facebook page, as well as all their followers, believe that Ashy and her diet plan are breaching Australian Consumer Law (ACL) due to misleading and deceptive conduct. The description of misleading and deceptive conduct in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is,
No matter how a business communicates with you – whether it is through packaging, advertising, logos, endorsements, or sales pitches – you have the right to receive accurate and truthful messages about the goods and services that you buy.
The Facebook group has petitioned to the Commission. Ms. O’Louglin says that Ashy is breaching ACL because, “1. You cannot guarantee weight-loss, [and] 2. You cannot offer 24/7 supervised forums and not provide them.” She also goes onto say that you cannot advertise qualifications which you do not have, and then give advice when you are not qualified to do so. As mentioned before, Ashy claims to Australia’s number one body transformation specialist. Now, you may be wondering who named her as such. Or you may notice that on her Facebook page it says that her program has won the Best Female Health and Fitness Program in Australia award. I was unable to find any information on this award, as has Ms. O’Louglin and Ms. Wiseman. Therefore, such grandeur and prestige may just all be self proclaimed. This is yet another question I asked Ashy, but she refused to answer.
The supervised forum is often a big area of complaint from girls, saying Ashy either takes too long to get to their questions, or does not give sufficient answers, all leading to poor customer service. One product reviewer has said that there is, “No customer support, rude staff, information easily gained elsewhere for free, no refund for dissatisfaction, expensive. In essence, a total scam.” So why is it that girls swear by the plan?
I sought out an actual customer who is more than satisfied with Ashy’s plan. I interviewed Tara Morgan, who says she’s been working out and eating right for a long time and never got the results that she did with Ashy’s diet plan and challenge. The girls that successfully follow Ashy’s plan are very loyal to her and rarely say anything negative about the plan, with many reviewers who are against the plan calling these girls ‘Ashybots’. These girls believe that the only reason that there are negative responses to Ashy’s product is because they are “not following it properly”, and aren’t seeing results. Tara is not far from being an ‘Ashybot’, saying that the lies that end up in the media about Ashy are contrived by girls who only tried the plan for a week and failed, “lazy girls basically.” Tara first joined the plan after a friend of hers had successfully lost weight and regained her confidence after two of Ashy’s challenges. With Ashy’s plan and challenge, Tara lost 7% body fat and created 5kgs of muscle, and she couldn’t be happier with the results. She doesn’t think you can put a price tag on changing your life (which is, ironically, something Ashy often says). Of Ashy’s plan, Tara says, “It is not a scam and the evidence is not only me and the results I have gotten, but the thousands of before and after photos of many girls whose lives are now much happier and healthier because of it, and you have no sense if you think otherwise.”
Of these thousands of before and after photos of girls, the administrators of the Waste of $ Facebook page say that they have found some of those pictures on other weight-loss websites. With the amount of testimonials Ashy posts on her Facebook page each day, this claim is easy to believe. As of recently, Ms. O’Louglin says that the ACCC has contacted Ashy Bines and her team and has given them a deadline to make specific changes to her product. We will just have to wait and see what the future holds for Ashy Bines.
Whether you are looking to lose weight, or just maintain a healthy lifestyle, clean eating is undoubtedly a way to do it. However, does it have to come at a hefty price tag? Do your research and odds are you will find other similar plans for free that will also give you the motivation to get your rear end in gear and get the body you want. In the end, Ashy Bines may just be another serious case of blonde ambition. You be the judge.