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Amazon, Jeep, Apple All Guilty of Blatant False Advertising

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I am incredibly sick and tired of false advertising (Wikipedia). Sometimes it’s so wrong it’s actually funny (not when it’s targeted at you of course), but most of the time it is aggravating, infuriating or downright pathetic. In the last 24 hours I’ve been blasted by false advertising from well-known companies. False advertising can cost brands millions, yet they still don’t get the picture. Are big brand retailers actually getting away with extortion? Are ad agencies so desperate, have their creative wells run so dry, that they simply lie to us now? Is the world’s most beloved computing company (yes, biased) trying to sell me a load of bull? Yes, yes and yes. Allow me to demonstrate.

Amazon

I recently ordered the entire boxed set of the King of Queens series from Amazon.com. Notice the box says “complete series” which is described on Amazon’s website as containing 27 discs. Well it did come with 27 discs but it was entirely missing the 4th season! When I contacted Amazon to see what they were going to do about it, I got this response:

I’m really sorry to hear the Fourth Season of The King of Queens you’ve purchased wasn’t included in your shipment. This usually doesn’t happen. I’m sorry; I’m not able to replace individual pieces from a set, but I’ll replace the set for you. Once you’ve received it, you can ship back the original set. However, in this case, if you’re interested in keeping the DVD set, I’d like to offer you a refund of $11.84, which is 30% off the price. To accept this refund, let us know and we’ll issue the refund to your credit card.

Oh thank you so much Amazon! You mean you’ll let me pay extra for something you told me I’d get in the first place? That is so convenient and ethical! If I returned my purchase to get a replacement, it would still be missing the 4th season. Not cool. This is an example of a false advertisement that actually costs me additional money… I’m no lawyer, but this feels like extortion. Even if this is a manufacturing error, as a retailer, Amazon is responsible for selling products that deliver on what is promised to customers.

If 1,000 people ordered the same box set, wrote to customer service to get it fixed, were told to buy the 4th season separately (discounted, of course) and actually ordered it out of frustration Amazon would pocket over $10k. That’s just this one item. Who knows how many others there are.

Jeep

This one’s just ridiculous. As I was leafing through the pages of the most recent edition of Fast Company I came across this Jeep ad. So, Jeep, you’re telling me that I’ll never have to fill up for gas… ever? Oh, I see, I’m supposed to realize that this is a cute generalization meant to depict that fact that on any given trip around town I probably won’t have to stop at the gas station… but wait, that’s not what you said. This is an example of a pathetic false advertisement.

Apple

Now here’s an example that really bothers me. It’s a picture of what greeted me when I flipped on my Apple TV last night. How in the world does John Carter qualify as a top movie Apple? The Economist calls John Carter the biggest flop ever. It was so bad that it cost the head of Disney’s film studio his job. What I am left assuming here, Apple, is that your cozy relationship with Disney prompted you to try to promote this horrible movie by passing it off as one of the best movies currently available. Or did Disney pay for this “opportunity” to try to salvage a financial disaster? This is a very, very disappointing example of trying to get me to spend money under false pretenses.

Have you run into any false advertising lately? Let me know what your experience was in the comments section!




1 comment

  1. It is unfortunate that we all seem to take false advertising for granted. We all believe that we are immune from the influence of those that wish to manipulate our behavior but it just isn’t so.
    I have been actively working on having false business listings removed from Google search results and nationwide directory services showing fictitious businesses but have found that my requests are opposed at every turn.
    There is no real enforcement of false advertising anymore as far as I can tell.
    There is a law passed by congress that gave immunity to any internet service that publishes third party information and that law has been so broadly interpreted by the courts that nobody is ever held accountable.
    No enforcement agency has the will or the budget to go after the individual advertiser and the distributor of the false information has been immunized from any culpability by congress (see http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/US_Internet_Law/Section_230).
    This opened the door to any lie that any person or corporation wishes to put in the public’s face without any recourse by the victims..
    You might take a look at the issues my industry is faced with here: http://www.badplumbers.org
    An early landmark case was brought through the federal courts by Kenneth M. Zeran see:http://www.techlawjournal.com/courts/zeran/71112opn.htm
    In any case, I think t time that the public noticed that there is something very wrong with this scenario.
    We need to recognize that there is a difference between freedom which we all subscribe to and license which the unscrupulous among us would have us believe is the same thing.
    We need some press coverage on this issue.

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