5 On Your Side

Shoppers should be wary of the sales pitch

Posted May 29, 2014

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— Nissan got into some trouble in January when it ran and ad showing one of its pickup trucks pushing a dune buggy up a steep hill. The problem is that the truck isn’t capable of such a stunt.

The Federal Trade Commission called the ad “deceptive.”

Ads like that happen more often than shoppers might expect. Illegal regulators can’t monitor everything, so it’s up to shoppers to read the fine print.

Experts suggest that shoppers start by watching for certain buzz words.

The FTC says companies that use the phrase “satisfaction guaranteed” should only say it if full refunds are provided or if the limitations are stated.

The website Glasses USA advertises a satisfaction guarantee, but a refund on some items will cost shoppers a 20 percent re-stocking fee. Michelin’s 30-day satisfaction guarantee means tires can be returned only for a new set. There’s no refund involved.

Shoppers should also be skeptical with “going out of business” sales as well as the use of “free.” While a very powerful come-on, shoppers usually have to purchase something in order to get the “free” part.

“Free trials” are something else shoppers should be wary of. If it isn’t canceled in time, companies may automatically enroll shoppers for a monthly service.


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