Many may remember this classic advert and others may spring to mind. The Smash robots, Holidays are coming, and the OXO family all come to mind but it is the darker side of advertising, those images and statements designed to mislead the unwary that raise my blood pressure.
Firstly there is the obsession with prices being psychologically pleasing such as £999.99. “A thousand, that’s expensive.” Says the punter. But take off a penny and it must be a bargain. Under £1000, even by a penny is phsychologically pleasing £1000 is not.
If you pay attention to large retail stores, they are never off sale. It starts in January and seems, with a change of name, to continue till December. You have the New Year sale, the winter sale, the spring sale and so it goes on till the Holiday (Christmas) sales plugging dining tables and sofas. But the law says that sale prices should be based on full prices charged for a certain period and in at least one store. Now no one would pay this full price and all you would have to do is charge it for the minimum time at your store in a tiny town in the highlands of Scotland. The law is complied with. Then you just make up a figure which represents a huge amount of profit and is lower than that price. Everyone thinks they are getting a bargain despite your cost price being about 50 quid a unit and the sale price being in the 4 to 5 hundreds.
Another method is to convince you that the stores are fun jolly places full of nice middle aged men gently ridiculing young assistants who are secretly like sons to them. The owners have never been near the stores and just watch the money roll in. The staff are under pressure to make money and will say anything to get a sale (And the associated commission.).Make no mistake..it’s just about money.
Small example, we needed a bed but it was a little expensive so we decided a new mattress would do. As we suspected the frame was a sound so I shopped around. All the big bed chains with their sales and offers wanted at least £3-400 for a Kingsize. I went online as I always do. I found one for £80. It was not one of these memory foam jobs, didn’t have an eight year guarantee or a star plugging it. It did not even come from a store, it was on EBAY. Such is the sheer power of advertising I thought there must be something wrong with it at that price. The advertisers have us convinced nothing cheap can be good. I rang for reassurance and eventually ordered it, expecting a flimsy beast with springs pinging out everywhere. I was not reassured when the delivery guy was carrying something like a huge Swiss roll under his arm. I took the wrapping off and suddenly the roll flattened out and springs started pinging. It was rather like popping bubble wrap, quite therapeutic but worrying. Here we go, I thought. This is what you get for buying cheap. It stopped after a while and sure enough there was a mattress.
After it was fully inflated (For want of a better description.) we tested it. Seemed OK. I have not regretted it. It is firm and I have no complaints. It is not top of the range but is 12″ deep and has a layer of memory foam. It is least as good those £3-400 low range mattresses for a fraction of the price. My trusty MP3 player cost me a fiver and a basic fitness watch (Very basic I admit!) was less than a fiver. You take your chances, there are some cowboys out there but experience and checking feedback ratings will help. If there is a phone number ring it. How your call goes will tell you a lot about the seller. Only 1 thing, a cheap webcam, went wrong and that was a Windows driver issue.
Another of the methods of convincing you to buy is to convince you you are getting a huge discount. As you sit in front of your tellybox and see an advert assuring you a furniture (Or any!) retailer is offering up to 70% discount you think you must be getting a bargain. Think about it though. Any positive number, even a fraction, is up to 70 and so complies with the claim. Just make up a figure. The prices quoted on items in the advert are rarely less 70% and the one which is will probably be a loo roll holder or a tiny bedside cabinet. Again mega profits for mass produced items.
Then there is the “90% agree this is the best thing since sliced bread” (Sliced bread advertising is the only thing you can’t truly say that about.). Look at the tiny print if you can. It will always say 90% of the 35 people who responded to some poll in a magazine with a readership of 1000 people. Exaggerated but you get the idea. The magazine would also be aimed at those who would be predisposed to buy the product. it is misleading as are all polls unless the pollees are a truly random sample.
Charities are also guilty of the small print trick. Usually at the bottom of the screen, with a nice picture of a lovely cat or dog to distract from it, will be a statement that ‘ at least 85%’ will go to the cause. 15% will go to admin and wages.
The issue is that most will see something like this and always read it at face value. They want to see a bargain where none exists. Always shop around. These big guys will always be expensive because they have overheads. At least look online, you might just find a real bargain. I have, several times.
I love ads that are heartwarming or fun, I’m no killjoy, but when you see any claim treat it with a large pinch of salt and look where they don’t want you too, at the small print.