Advancing to the Plexiglas window with the heavy set, blond behind it to check in, we waited to be recognized. Her heavily cosmetic coated face looked up from where she was working. “Can I help you?” she asked sounding annoyed that we had bothered her.
“I have an appointment,” said my husband.
After answering the remaining questions, she said, “Have a seat. The doctor will be with you shortly.”
Seating ourselves in the tiny waiting room, we watched as the receptionist continued with whatever it was she was doing before we interrupted. We were amazed with how far our expectations were off from reality. This was supposed to be a medical establishment, yet clearly it failed in the very first contact: cleanliness. We didn’t only walk away, we ran!
So were they being dishonest? Do businesses sometime play up an advertisement that is a huge stretch from what is real? Where does that leave the customer? Does that make the consumer at risk?
There are a variety of ways businesses can have false or misleading advertising. However, there are state and federal laws which help protect consumers. Price, quality and purpose of a product or service are three common ways businesses might try to be misleading. An infraction is incurred when the misleading information causes the consumer financial loss or other form of injury.
When I see a commercial on television that promises something that is so amazing it’s hard to believe it can be true, I usually deduce it probably is! The product is being projected as the perfect solution for whatever your issue, as related to the product. There is rarely a “perfect” product that suits everyone in every case! Often advertisements that promise or even imply improved health benefits will sway the consumer to try the product. This mindset reminds us to look critically at whatever is being advertised, before purchasing.
Food advertisements are a huge area where misleading information is cast onto the consumer. Children are hit with an onslaught of commercials through cartoon characters for unhealthy products containing high calories, sugar and sodium in products like high-sugar cereals, sodas, candy and snacks. According to an article in U.S. News, March 2012, children see about 5,500 food commercials a year which focus on this strategy.
Add to this tactic used on children, adults are assaulted with advertisements which give health claims like “zero trans fats” or others which implies their product is substantially better for you than the product not containing these claims. Often it is far from the truth since the altercation of the product increases harmful effects in a different area. The product, because of the change will have reduced, if any fiber, have less nutrients and is loaded with another element that may be worse for you than what you started!
When you add the fact that nutritional guidelines have become so complicated, mangled and twisted, it’s hard to decide what is really good for you and what isn’t. What might have been considered totally unhealthy for you five or ten years ago is now good for you and what is now introduced as being the best ingredient ever found is now the one that causes cancer!
My point is that as consumers, whether we are choosing a doctor, dentist or other medical provider; buying a house, tractor or other large ticket item, or even going to the grocery store for food, we need to make wise choices. There are those “out there” who desire to get ahead and make a quick dollar with no regard to the person they are using to reach their goals. It is up to each of us to consider the product we wish to purchase: what is in it (or what it is made of), where it was made, if the label is being truthful or exaggerated and is it the best product for us. Only then can we make wise and educated decisions.