Why do we tolerate this?

Companies these days will do a lot of things to make a sales. Some of them are actually fairly honest, like cutting their profit margin in order to bring more customers in and get them to buy. Others, however, have nothing to do with honesty. Take the piece of advertising I got in the mail today……

Picture a fairly plain manila envelope, adorned with a printed legend stating that it was notification of a state program, and featuring an outline of the state. Nowhere on the front does it say anything about this being a sales advertisement. No, instead, it makes every effort to appear to be an official document mailed by the state I reside in. It’s only when you flip it over that you see the logo for the company printed quite small, that you begin to wonder “WTF???”.

Things do not get better when you open the envelope. The first things you see is a “voucher” for a “credit” to take part in the “program”. Most of the rest of the envelope’s contents are of a similar nature, and only the flier actually advertising the item being sold clues you in to the fact that this is, in fact, an effort to sell you something.

One of the documents in the envelope had an 800 number on it, and I decided to call to complain about the way this sales advertisement was formatted and worded. After a very short wait, I was put through to a real human, who tried quickly to sell me on the product. When I told him what I was really calling about, that this advertisement was very close to false advertisement, he quickly went over to the defensive, stating that it “clearly” was an advertisement.

Where I come from, we have a word for that:




The salesman is correct, his company does not cross the line into outright lying. The problem is, they avoid it not by miles, but by millimeters, and not too many of them either. I don’t doubt they’ll make some sales, nor do I doubt that the salesman I spoke to will make his sales quota for the day. What I DO wonder about is a system that allows such behavior. How far does someone go to ‘make the sale’? What does constitute ‘crossing the line’? How willing are companies to put profit ahead of all else? More important, what does it say about us, as a people, that we’re willing to tolerate this sort of thing?

Maybe it’s time we Americans did something about it. Maybe we should make a point of not doing business, at all, with companies that engage in these sorts of despicable practices. Could we, the consumers, cause companies to take notice of our concerns? The cynic in me says no, that this sort of behavior is part of human nature. The part of me that’s fuming right now says yes, we can, and even if we can’t, it’s better to try to change than to set on our asses and bitch about it.

Anyone with me?


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