I’ve procrastinated long enough in regards to writing my thoughts on this subject. Unfortunately for years now deceptive advertising has been considered a normal way of doing business. With the Internet boom this hasn’t changed in my opinion it may have even increased. Granted the good thing about the Internet is that if you know where to look you can find valid trustworthy information in regards to fraudulent advertising or less than reputable companies or products being sold. Even though there are suppose to be consumer protection laws in place it would seem these aren’t widely enforced. Or that companies are aware of how far they can manipulate the truth before being held accountable.
Now it probably needs to be pointed out that every ones definition of what is fraudulent will vary. In some cases products not doing exactly what they did in a commercial would not be considered fraud by many. The question then becomes where do you draw the line? There are many infomercials that offer products, services or get rich quick schemes that in the end don’t live up to the hype. In some cases a company would tell you this is the consumers fault for not using the product or information properly. Yet I’ve seen many commercials and advertising that I feel should be more regulated or maybe even removed. But do to the financial concerns of those that air or print these advertisements I don’t think we will ever see this occur. Some people feel this could even be considered a free speech issue. My problem is why should it always be buyer beware? Shouldn’t television, radio, print and online content producers take their responsibility to the public seriously?
What has caused my uproar is mostly from several commercials that have been playing for years and one in particular that started a few months ago. Although for many years perfectly legitimate companies have been taking advantage of consumers. A quick look at advertising history would show that unsubstantiated product claims have always been the normal way of doing business. To me it seems that in many cases consumer protections are failing. In the rare cases where there is a prosecution the penalties don’t seem harsh enough. I also feel that the consumer in this process is never fully compensated for being mislead.
So where should the line be drawn? From what I’m seeing the companies themselves don’t see change as a viable option. There is still a good amount of what I consider to be fraud within contextual advertising online. It’s bad enough that the results offered from this type of advertising are mediocre at best. However it’s even worse when these text ads are directing consumers to less than repuatble goods and services.
Television has been one of the worst offenders for ages. Infomercials have presented many a product or service that shouldn’t be marketed in the first place. I’m sure lawyers would tell you that disclaimers and such remove any of the broadcasters responsibilities in these matters.
One of the things that aggravates me is when you see productions in relation to environmental issues taking advertising from companies that have less than a stellar record in regards to eco-friendly standards. In the past I have written about the other advertising that has gotten me concerned. The television ads you see in regards to antivirus products or services that offer to fix your computer. Recently these advertisements have again become the hot topic of some online communities. Even though there may be concerns related to how these companies operate. Major broadcasters still take their advertising dollars. Someone recently commented about the famous money talks mantra.
The unfortunate fact is that no one seems really concerned about this issue. It’s a problem that has existed in one form or another for a long time. There are many consumers on a daily basis that keep falling for these marketing pitches. This isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
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