Buying anything in America is made more difficult by the devotion American businesses seem to have to the use of advertising tricks. Even the Romans, 3000 years ago said “buyer beware” or caveat emptor. While this is not an exact translation from the Latin, the two phrases are accepted as being equivalent these days. However it seems that the buyer can hardly beware when trickery is as rampant as it is right now. Whatever consumer protection we have seems relatively passive or altogether missing and consumers must initiate any request for their own financial protection. Even if you address concerns to the attorney general in your state you may not find her/him to be very sympathetic.
I was tricked twice this month by unsolicited advertising that arrived in my home from businesses and once by a possible misunderstanding, or a deliberate attempt to mislead with an internet service provider.
I received this ad in the coupon section of my newspaper from Empire Visionworks which offered two pairs of eyeglasses for the price of one. I did not see a lot of disclaimers at the bottom of this ad.
So I went to the location of Empire Visionworks where I had my eye exam and I picked out one pair of reading glasses and one pair of sunglasses which I also wanted to use as reading glasses.
After the ordering and the measuring I followed the salesperson to the cash register. She said the glasses would cost $539. I decided that I did not want to spend this much and I asked what it would cost just to buy the reading glasses and not the sunglasses. I expected to hear that it would still cost $539 but this time the salesperson said $333. I’m sure you know what I said next. How is the BOGO (buy one, get one)? No answer was given. There was a noticeable silence. I did order polycarbonate lenses but the ad does not include a disclaimer about this. I gave up being an indignant customer and bought the single pair of reading glasses (ouch). It is, however, obvious that BOGO only applies for the cheapest of glasses and this company is guilty of false advertising.
Example 2. Verizon FIOS sent me one of those new soft cardstock flyers they like to send these days offering Quantum high speed internet, and HBO for $10/ month. I assumed it was $10 for both, which is what the card seemed to say. However Verizon made a video for me explaining my newest bill. I guess they knew I might have some objections. I am still unclear about what Verizon told me, but I could see that Verizon is charging me $20/ month for these additions. They did say something about this payment covering one partial month and, because we pay before getting service, one month in advance. We shall eventually see if their ad was telling the truth, but it will be two months before we find out. Ridiculous!
My last episode of being jerked around by a “service provider” has to do with Netflix. I was anxious to catch up on some programming that I missed on TV and to stream movies not offered by On Demand. Netflix offered one month free and then offered a subscription rate of 7.99 per month. At the end of that first “free” month I found a charge to my bank account of 17.99. In what way does this represent that one free month offer? I barely get angry anymore. Sadly, I expect this type of slippery, slimy behavior.
CAVEAT EMPTOR – Indeed!
We are all just rubes to be bilked. Businesses see each of us as one of that sucker who is born every minute and the use of obfuscation in advertising is far more common these days than the honest, straightforward deal.
By Nancy Brisson
<a href=https://plus.google.com/10640005355488737390?=author>Nancy Brisson</a>