Wednesday, June 29, 2005


I spend a great deal of time listening to radio in Albuquerque. Some of the advertising may mislead the listener. Do the stations recognize this? Does a station owe its listeners the duty of scrutinizing its advertising content and weeding out ads that may mislead?

During the month of June I have heard the following advertisements (this recitation is not word for word, even when quotes are used). One jeweler advertises that "No other jeweler can meet these prices!" What do they mean? Are they saying that their prices are the lowest in town, or that they will meet anyone's price? They also say that if you want to buy on credit, not to worry, "Zero percent interest for 5 years!" How can that be; how can they sell on credit at zero percent interest? Obviously, they have to increase the price. The question is whether this is so obvious that no one is misled. That sounds like a good defense.

New car advertisement: Anyone can enjoy the employee discount. GM employee discount.
You will recall that this is an ad in which a young ne'er-do-well applies for a job at GM, and later admits he does not want a job with GM, but merely wants to buy a new vehicle and get the employee discount. The GM interviewer solves the problem by telling the young man that he does not have to work for GM in order to get the GM employee discount -- that everyone can now get the employee discount. If everyone can get the discount, it is a price reduction, not an employee discount.

New pickup advertisement. “E pricing plan.” This local new pickup dealer advertises on the radio that now the public can buy at the same price that the company allows its employees to buy. What of the employees, do they go on the general public pricing plan? Or are we all, general public and employees, now on the same pricing plan? If so, so what, are they saying that the prices are being reduced? This ad boggles the mind. If it is true, they could advertise that they have terminated all employee discounts and have reduced all of their prices (as a consequence? in addition?).

New pickup advertisement. Our price is only [quotes price], "and that’s after factory rebate! This dealer gives us the information that there will be no "factory rebate" in this purchase; but phrases it so that the listener hears something else, or is simply dumbfounded and thinks the quoted price must be even more favorable to the purchaser than the listener first thought.

Introductory offer of 1.9% interest on loan; 4.5% APR. This ad speaks of a very low interest rate in an introductory offer. Then at the end, in quick, throw-away language, the speaker says "APR 4.5%." Question, is the introductory offer 4.5% APR? Or is the interest rate after the introduction 4.5%? If the ultimate APR does not exceed 4.5%, I will be surprised. More than likely, the original, introductory rate is 4.5% APR (because some fee is figured in on top of the 1.9%).

Small print now becomes unintelligible jabber, spoken so fast it cannot be considered. The rest of the ad is in large type: almost shouted at us. You have heard these radio ads. Bombastic, emphatic language in the pitch; and unintelligible, rapid jibberish in the disclaimer. How is that for a fair trade practice?

Question: Does a radio station have some obligation to screen the ads, to prevent ads that may mislead the listeners? Buyer, beware.