I tried out Noom, the weight loss and cognitive behavioral therapy program. The app is more like CBT for upselling customers than CBT for weight loss. Now I’m hoping they’ll delete my sensitive medical data and refund the $3 they tricked me out of. (They did, quickly in response to my support email.)

I was excited to try Noom. I’ve used basic calorie counters in the past and was hoping for something better. I’m also curious about CBT. And a friend recommended it.

The account creation process goes OK at first. Then it gets more and more involved, taking 10–20 minutes to fill out the questions. There’s little UI tricks to keep you engaged: fake progress bars, questions injected at random intervals. Classic product UI hacking.

At first it told me that I’d reach my weight goal in about a year. Seemed reasonable! Then it kept shaving weeks off that as I answered questions, like I was making progress already. The conclusion it came to is that I was going to lose 18 pounds in the first month. Pretty sure that’s not possible, certainly not healthy.

Then the upselling begins. They ask some questions to find out your interests and then offer premium packages. “Folks who pay for this package lose 35% more weight” Look, I just want to try the basic thing.

It looks like a 7 day free trial but before you know it they want you to pay asserting “it costs $10 to offer a 7 day trial”. Really? They gave me a choice of what to pay from $0.50 to $18.83. I chose $3 and had to pay via PayPal / credit card; super sus they don’t just use Google Pay on the Android app.

They also try to get you to sign up your friends. They talk about how having folks involved in your program will make you more successful. Which is probably true but then immediately they’re asking for email addresses and offering discounts and gift certificates. It’s marketing, not therapy.

The whole thing was so sleazy and deceptive. Particularly for a therapy-like product. Real therapists have all sorts of ethical guidelines to stop them from exploiting their customers. Noom instead seems to be using CBT to trick customers into paying more. Gross, gross, gross.

  2023-04-08 16:11 Z