This article talks about it and gives you things to look out for to help you spot false advertising.
… And What You Can Do To Not Fall Victim
False advertising can be very painful to those consumers who fall victim to it. Nobody likes to be taken for a fool so it can be very embarrassing to discover that a business or brand is lying or lied concerning a brand promise. It is therefore very important to not only know how to spot false advertising in business but to protect oneself from its onslaught.
What is False Advertising?
False advertising is when a business or brand uses untrue, unverified or misleading information in advertising their product or service to the end that their business may appear more attractive and appealing to the consumers. It is said that there is a marked difference between stretching the truth a little and outrightly making false claims or promises. Sometimes businesses engage in what is known as ‘puffing’ which is when a product or service is exaggerated by using vague and ambitious terms such as ‘the best in town’, ‘the fastest delivery service in the world’ etc. Puffing is not necessarily illegal because it is thought of as an opinion given by a person or business rather than a fact or an act. It can however be seen as illegal if terms are used which clearly negate what the product can do.
False advertising can result in damage which could range from mild disappointments or frustrations to life threatening, especially in the case of health care, pharmaceuticals, insurance etcetera. It is therefore important that citizens are well able to protect themselves from the onslaught of false advertising. The government has tried to put laws and checks in place, to ensure that business owners do not get away with false advertising. These laws are covered in the Fair Trading Act, which serves to protect people from such deception.
Moreover, with the ease with which individuals can sue businesses in America and most developed countries, one would think any business would be extremely wary of making any false claims or advertising, but this doesn’t seem to reduce the incidence. One reason for this might be the army of attorneys that most business often have at their beck and call to help quash any law suit or even the thought of it before it even arises.
So regarding the laws that have been put in place, businesses are not allowed to make false claims about things such as the style and quality of products or services, performance or benefits of a product or service, the importance or necessity of a product or service, the newness of products, and the availability of repair works or spare parts.
There is likely a breach of the law if a product or service creates an overall misleading impression in the mind of a person about the quality, value or price of the product.
Types of False Advertising
Not Providing Sufficient Information
Some advertisers deliberately refuse to give sufficient information about their product or service. This was found to be rampant among pharmaceutical business owners in the United States. The side effects of a drug would be written in very small letters while a fast speaker or ‘speed talker’ attempted to race through these side effects.
Surcharges and Hidden Fees
Companies sometimes create the false impression about the price of a product or service by failing to mention some charges which the consumer has to pay, for example shipping and delivery costs could be excluded from the price of a product being sold online just to create the impression that it is much cheaper than it really is.
Surcharges and hidden fees could be hidden in fine print, which unfortunately, many buyers do not take the time and patience to read.
This is especially common in the cosmetics and beauty industry where photos could be retouched or manipulated to give a false impression. Weight loss products could be advertised using a retouched picture of a person who claims to have used such a product. Also before and after photos could be manipulated for cosmetic creams, acne treatments, etc.
False and Misleading Claims
Advertisers have over time discovered what people would like to hear. For example, most people want to live a longer and healthier life so some food advertisers emphasise certain healthy ingredients that their foods contains to the exclusion of the other ingredients which may be unhealthy or even harmful. Many companies have faced huge lawsuits for claiming that their products were ‘all natural’ or ‘wholly organic’ when they were not in fact.
Manipulation of Measurements or Standard Units
This happens when advertisers deceive and attempt to confuse customers by using unknown and unpopular measuring units.
This happens when inappropriate sized packages are used for products in an attempt to create a false impression. Usually, fillers and Styrofoam can be used to create an illusion of great size while food fillers like gravy and broth are sometimes used in place of the real food products being advertised.
This is when businesses compare their products or services with others in the market especially in terms of price, value, quality and range. This can be very misleading especially when such comparisons are inaccurate or inappropriate.
This happens when businesses advertise certain features that are unavailable or available in very limited quantity in order to lure customers to patronise them. A good example is when an unavailable product is advertised to be on sale, the customers are thereafter offered more expensive products in the absence of the unavailable but cheaper option.
Advertising Laws and Regulations
In order to ensure that false advertising is discouraged, the federal government has put laws and checks in place to regulate the activities of advertisers. These laws are often regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC.) These laws serve