Advertising has been with us, and past generations, for centuries. We know its purpose – to have us buy some product, to tout the product as the best ever, new and improved, jumbo sized and something you can’t live without. Sounds like Snake Oil to me. (For those not familiar with the term please go to www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_oil)
This article has to do with a newer form of advertising deception, the pop up banner ad. Seems as soon as your computer is turned on and you open up your web browser you are getting these little gems all over your screen.
Recently I received one from an office supply store. A company that has stores all over the world, it’s huge and you have heard of it. Yet I won’t publish its name as they have many attorneys and I have none.
Their ad was for a particular camera that I had been researching for some time. The ad clearly listed the camera’s name, model number, and the lowest price I had ever encountered. “Click Here” the ad button flashed, so I did. I was immediately taken to this mega giant’s website store, to the webpage that hosted this particular camera, and with the intent on purchasing it I eagerly scrolled down the page to the “Add To Cart” button. Only problem was that the camera’s price was much higher than advertised in their pop up banner ad. “What’s this?”, I though to myself. So I tried their ad link again with, of course, the same results.
So I decided to contact the mega giant’s customer service to see what was up with these price discrepencies. My inquiry was simple – I received an advertisement from your company for a camera for one price, yet your website is selling it for a much higher price what gives?
My first reply from their customer service department was a typical canned corporate reply – “We are not responsible for advertisements placed on third party websites”. Huh? Is that anything like we’re not responsible for advertisements placed on billboards, or advertisements placed on television? Huh?
So my reply to mega giant was – Huh? I indicated to their customer service that it was their advertisement, not a third party’s advertisement. It was their advertisement placed onto other websites, no different than if it was on television. I tried to explain my thoughts as best as possible and two days later received the following reply from them, “We are not responsible for advertisements placed on third party websites”.
So now I knew the corporate run around had begun. Luckily for me I am retired and have time to deal with situations like this. The game was on!
I decided to reply to their second e-mail and let them know that their advertising practices were deceptive, that only they benefited from one clicking on their ads, that they had placed these ads on other websites by using a web based marketing company, and that they were responsible for their ad content. I went on to inform them that deceptive advertising was against the law in the State I live in and that I was positive that the Federal Trade Commission would like to know how their deceptive “bait and switch” ads shouldn’t exist.
My third reply from mega giant was to let me know that the ads were actually their ads, not some third party, but they still couldn’t honor the advertised price. I repeat myself………Huh?
I decided to by pass the customer service drones and knock them out of the way as if pawns on a chess board. Go for the king was my move. I went to mega giant’s website, found their corporate structure and managment, found the name of their president of operations and advertising, their mailing address and sat at my computer and wrote an old fashioned letter on paper. With that old fashioned style of correspondence and one final e-mail I proceeded for their king.
My last e-mail, of course to their customer mis-service group, indicated that I now had written verification from their company that the advertisement was indeed theirs. It was not a “third party” advertisement as lied to earlier, and that I had no choice but to write to Mr. Mega Giant President to see if he agreed that his company should honor his company’s advertised price. I additionally indicated that, with postage stamp at the ready, I would be mailing off my letter. No reply that day, go figure.
Late the following day I did receive a reply from a customer service supervisor (geez – finally a voice of authority, yeah right!) that mega giant would reluctantly honor their ad, but only this one time. (You bet I saved that e-mail for next time)
So I did what I set out to do 1- wipe out mega giant’s pawns; 2- go after their king; 3- declare checkmate; and by the way yes I did get the camera.
My purpose in this ‘wrant’ is to let everyone know that you have to go after what you think is unjust. Why should a billion dollar company (larger I’m sure) be able to simply lie in their advertising? Why should they get away with deceptive practices? Because they have more money than I do makes it OK for them to do this? No No No.
So some tips, as I will post future articles dealing with other mega companies.
1- Start at the bottom to begin your quest. 2- Always be polite to whomever you deal with. 3- Be prepared to get the answers you will not want. 4- Be persistent in keeping your quest going. 5- Move to a different “chess piece” to get different replies. 6- Go for the king (or queen) 7- Have patience it’s not a quick process.
And do some research. In mine I found the web marketing company that mega giant used to place the mega giant ads all over the Internet. Mega giant could not refute this and in so doing admitted the ads were theirs and what else could they do but finally honor their price.