Salesmen, Cheats and Liars

I have more than a passing interest in advertising, especially on television.  I pay attention to the different methods that companies use to sell their products and find it fascinating to see what works and what doesn’t. The Missus and the kids are quite familiar with my habit of commenting on commercials that were just on TV.  Some campaigns, like Subaru, foster a sense of family and security.  Some advertising is particularly effective because it’s disturbing and it makes you remember it.  For instance, anyone who watches Sabres games has surely seen the New York State, anti-smoking commercials.  If I have to see that eyeball lady one more time, I’m going to lose it!

Here’s the point that I’d like to make about television advertising, though.  Our current laws allow companies to lie in their television commercials.  They can say anything they want about their product or service, as long as they qualify it at the bottom of the screen  in tiny print that no one without a microscope and a DVR can read.  Or occasionally, they’ll have some fast talking auctioneer say the qualifying information so fast that you could never hope to catch it at normal speed.

For example, why should a car dealer be able to advertise a “$99/month lease deal”, when you know damn well that’s not the truth?  If you were somehow able to read the tiny print at the bottom of the screen, you’d see that you’d need to come up with $3000 down plus taxes, acquisition fee, etc.

Why don’t we have consumer protection laws that require advertisers to put any qualifiers needed in print large enough to read on your television screen and with enough time for a normal person to read it?  This seems like a common sense initiative which would benefit all consumers.  It’s a no-brainer, which of course means it will never happen.   Critics might say that it would hurt sales.  Maybe, but I’m not convinced of that.  Are fewer people going to buy and lease cars because commercials actually give a true price?  If anything, I think most people would appreciate not being tricked into thinking the lease price is one thing and then going to the dealer and finding out it’s much more expensive.

I’m using cars as my example but this applies to all sorts of different products and services.  It also applies to radio and print ads.  Is there a good counter argument?  Am I missing something?  Feel free to comment.

 

I know the only feeling you have is rage
And I know that I’d feel the same as you, but
I think you’d better take a good look around you ’cause
You’re so pissed you can’t even find your drink

Sometimes it’s wise
To know which way the gun is pointing
Before you yell, “I see the whites of their eyes.”
Sometimes you’ll find your senses all disjointed by
The lines and wires of salesmen, cheats and liars

Well she left, without one word of tenderness
And noone saw you cry but me
Your friends heard you say, “Good riddance, I’m better without her.” but
‘Fess up, you thought about diving into the Don

Sometimes it’s wise
To know which way the car is going
Before you put your pedal down to the floor
Sometimes you’ll find your senses all disjointed by
The lines and wires of salesmen, cheats and liars

Well, hello friend
I caught you laughin’ again, but
Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me
It’s so strange that everybody’s so caught up in
Worrying that they ain’t what we want ’em to be

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