False advertising is advertising which uses untruthful or deceptive claims in order to manipulate consumers in some significant way. It can range from outright lies about the efficacy of the product, such as “Effective in 100% of cases!” for a drug which is certainly not effective in 100% of cases, to attempts to pull in consumers via methods less focused on the product, and more focused on simple low prices.
False advertising allows for a given company to unbalance the playing field in its favor, by making unsubstantiated claims which its more truthful opponents cannot and will not make. It can very much damage the consumer by leading to purchases of undesirable products, or purchases at prices that are definitively not good for the consumer.
False advertising is a major problem of the capitalist system in America today, especially because of the sheer prominence and availability of advertising of all kinds. One can barely do anything without encountering an ad of some sort, and if that ad bears false information of some kind, then there can be thousands upon thousands of people who will be misled by that ad.
Attempting to combat false advertising is important, then, simply for protecting consumers and preserving the integrity of the American commercial system. The first anti-false advertisement standards were implemented all the way back in 1916, as recommendations from a trade journal, and since then newer and better statutes have been adopted all across the nation, with the creation of the Federal Trade Commission acting as a primary enforcer for eliminating false advertising.
However, false advertising still remains, and continues to be a major problem, especially in a world where consumer knowledge of products is significantly less comprehensive than one might hope. To find out more about the basic nature of false advertising in America, click the link.
One of the primary ways of committing false advertisement is with the use of surcharges and hidden fees. Essentially, the practice revolves around the advertiser depicting the product in a positive light, with a certain low price. But in reality, the product actually costs significantly more, thanks to the hidden fees that are likely described only in the small print of the contract. This is a practice often performed with credit cards or bank accounts, as the buyer will sign up for certain rates and will find out later that those rates only last for a certain number of months.
Surcharges and hidden fees can also include charging customers for items which the consumer would otherwise have believed was free, or would not have purchased, had he or she known he or she would be charged. For example, some major hubs for surcharges and hidden fees include hotels, as hotel patrons will often be treated to certain services, only to find out that those services were not included in the price for the rooms at the hotel.
Towel service, water misting by the pool, and other such services will often be extended automatically to hotel patrons, who will take advantage of such services without realizing that they will later be charged extra. Such surcharges and hidden fees are a way for businesses to make money off of patrons, while still being able to present a low price in ads, in order to lure such patrons in. To learn out more about surcharges and hidden fees, including how they’re often used and where they’re often found, follow the link.
Going out of business” sales are often used as another avenue through which to take advantage of consumers by false advertising. Consumers will often keep an eye out for such sales, as the sales tend to indicate dramatically reduced prices. But some stores will take advantage of this consumer desire for low sale prices, in order to lure more customers into their stores. They will put up signs advertising some variation of a “going out of business” sale, so that consumers will believe that they will find low prices inside.
Those consumers will not realize that the supposedly discounted prices are, in fact, the same prices as the store offers every day. This is a particularly insidious form of fraudulent false advertising, as it entirely deceives the consumer into making purchases that he or she might never have otherwise made. But even genuine “going out of business” sales sometimes feature false advertising. Often, this is because such sales are not actually run by the business in question; they are, in fact, run by third party liquidators, who buy up the stock of a store going out of business, and then sell it on their own terms.
These liquidators often employ any number of tricks and manipulations in order to better sell their goods, regardless of the harm done to the consumer. Click the link for more information about how “going out of business” sales can use false advertisement to trick consumers into purchases.
There are numerous other ways of perpetrating false advertisement, ways that are often less blatantly deceptive and fraudulent than the ones previously mentioned, but are no less designed to manipulate consumers. These techniques often revolve around semantic manipulation, be it of laws, and what they require businesses to do, or of the consumers themselves. One such alternate technique is the manipulation of standards, which essentially refers to false advertising taking advantage of common understanding of certain terms, in order to better manipulate consumers.
The primary example of this comes from the computer industry, as certain terms in computers mean different things to those in the industry, than the terms would commonly mean to consumers. As a result, then, some companies can take advantage of false advertising to portray one meaning of those terms, while in fact actually using a different meaning. Another alternate method of false advertising involves the use of fillers and over-sized packaging to simply deceive the buyer into believing that a given product is larger or better than it actually may be.
These fillers and over-sized packaging are blatant attempts at manipulation, but they are also generally easier for perpetrators to get away with, because they are simply methods of image manipulation, instead of genuine lies or misleading claims. As long as no such lies are present on the packaging, then this method of false advertising cannot be seen as outright fraudulent. Manipulating undefined terms to lure in customers is yet another method of false advertising, very similar to manipulating standards, and most consumers are familiar to some extent with small print, and how it can be used to better take advantage of buyers. To learn more about all of these different methods of false advertising, follow the link.
The enforcement of rules against false advertising comes primarily from the civil, not criminal, system. False advertisement takes advantage of consumers, but throwing perpetrators into jail is considered to harsh for the action. Instead, most methods of enforcement focus on setting the situation right, as opposed to punishing the perpetrators.
The victims of false advertising will often get some form of compensation, which will, in turn, wind up costing the perpetrator and somewhat punishing him or her, regardless of the lack of blatant, court-mandated punishment. Sometimes such cases come from the consumers themselves, most often in class-action lawsuits against the perpetrating company, as individual law suits are too costly to be genuinely worth the legal expenses.
Other times, such cases will come from the Federal Trade Commission, whose job it is to watch for false advertisement and other signs that the consuming public is being taken advantage of, and put a stop to those practices, quickly. Yet other times, the competitors of falsely advertising companies will take them to court in an attempt to either end the false advertising or seek some form of compensation for damages.
Regardless, enforcement of statutes against false advertising depends mostly on any given party seeking to prevent the use of such deceptive tactics. To find out more about these different ways that false advertisement might be combated, click the link.