Jul

23

Rebate Advertising Should Be Illegal

By admin

   

Have you ever seen an advertised special in a store that seemed like a great price, only to find out that the advertised price was effective only after you received a mail-in rebate? How did you feel about that? If you are anything like most people, it didn’t phase you much. You probably thought, Well bottom line is if I get some money back in the mail which makes the item only cost that much, then that’s the price I can buy it for. But there is still that little asterisk in your brain about the discounted price, isn’t there? Somehow you know this isn’t quite like buying it at that advertised price.

After all you still do have to fork over all the money now and wait for a rebate to arrive, and there is at least a tinge of doubt in your mind that you will actually receive it. And for good reason! Retailers are getting worse and worse about honoring these rebate offers. They are looking for any excuse not to honor them and some of them go to ridiculous lengths to weasel out of their obligation. They make you dot a hundred i’s and cross and hundred t’s on three or four forms, send in a critical part of the packaging plus a printed receipt, and if you slip up on some minor point you blew it – no rebate.

Now, understand that just because you missed something on the form or sent the wrong part of the packaging in, the company doesn’t really doubt that you purchased the item. They can see just from the receipt alone that you are a legitimate customer. There is pretty much no chance that somebody is trying to scam them out of an unearned rebate. They know this. They are just trying to find a loophole – any loophole – to dishonor the price they advertised the item for. Electronics companies are especially notorious for doing this nowadays.

If you do somehow clear the obstacle course, you are likely to receive a prepaid visa debit card which you must spend at retail establishments in order to redeem. What’s more, if you don’t do it pretty quick the thing will expire and you will lose the rebate. It’s not cash. It’s not a check you can deposit in your bank account. It can’t go into your savings account, cannot go into your kid’s college fund, cannot practically be given to your favorite charity. You have to use it at a store or a restaurant in order to redeem it. And you won’t get it for many weeks, possibly months after you mail in the required forms.

This still all might seem OK to you. After all, you live in this society and so you are out spending money in stores quite often, and even the grocery store will accept that prepaid debit card. But let me tell you a considerable percentage of those cards expire without being used. They go into a purse pocket or a drawer and you find them in 8 months expired and worthless. You didn’t get the advertised price. As a matter of fact there is a good chance that as you are reading this some Christmas present you purchased a couple months ago cost you more than you planned on. Because right now, that rebate card is lost somewhere, if you even remembered to sit down for 30 minutes and figure out the claiming process in the first place.

What this all adds up to is terribly misleading marketing, if not blatant false advertising. It’s amazing that it is still legal. When Mama Riah and I purchased new cell phones recently the girl at the store told us to make sure we didn’t put the rebate claim forms in the same envelope or we would only get one of them. Now isn’t that utterly ridiculous, even perhaps borderline criminal? We should all get together as a society and just say no to any product advertised with a mail-in rebate price. Either that or start a massive class-action lawsuit.

Papa Riah

Jan

8

Flyers on Windshields

By admin

How do you feel when you leave a store, walk back to your car, and find a flyer on your windshield? Happy and eager to read the flyer? Or annoyed at being inconvenienced with it? My guess is the latter. You have just been burdened with a piece of trash that you are now responsible for disposing of. In fact in today’s society you are responsible for making sure it gets recycled properly.

Perhaps you have even been so annoyed that you let it make a litterbug out of you, pulling it off your windshield and letting it flutter to the pavement on the parking lot. Doesn’t that make you want to sort of hurry up and speed away at that point? You are now a fugitive attempting to make a getaway! Didn’t plan on that when running to the store for milk did you?

Somehow, you have now committed a crime – one which you probably think you are justified in, as the real blame goes to the company distributing those stupid flyers. Doesn’t it? Truth be told, the judge will probably not see it that way. What the company did was legal. What you did was not. They did not commit an intentional act of littering. You did. They are allowed to advertise in this manner and you are responsible for properly dealing with the literature you received.

Have you ever not even noticed it until after you started driving away? This happens sometimes with the smaller ones. That can really be annoying, especially if it creates a blind spot. As a matter of fact I have (on occasion) not noticed large ones until after I was on the road and suddenly had to deal with a rather hazardous blind spot on my front windshield. Note that this is also illegal – for me, not the company who just made a criminal out of me while I wasn’t looking.

The most tempting way to deal with this situation is – you guessed it – by turning on your windshield wipers. Been there, done that! It doesn’t always work. In fact sometimes this only repositions the flyer in a place that creates an even larger blindspot and you may be forced to pull over and deal with it. How embarrassing! If by some miracle you are able to free it with the windshield wiper, you are now littering on the highway – a much more serious offense than littering in the parking lot and it could end up costing you $500. Or worse, it could fly off and land on the windshield of some total idiot behind you and cause a traffic accident.

If that happens, how do you feel about going to the furniture store sale?

What are these companies thinking with this kind of marketing? How can it possibly work? Are we are such dolts that we will remember a sale at the cleaners and not remember that it nearly got us arrested or killed finding out about it?

And what about these kids they hire to distribute the flyers. They aren’t exactly the kind of people I would choose for handling delicate equipment on my car. I wonder how many windshield wiper arms have been broken in this process. I wonder how many kids who broke windshield wipers were stupid enough to still leave the flyer afterwards. I wonder how many people who had this happen to them were too stupid to even put two and two together and figure out how their car was damaged.

Papa Riah

Nov

24

Caveman Ads Getting Old

By admin

What started out being mildly funny has now become embarrassingly stale. Do you still laugh at those cave man auto insurance commercials? Of course not. It’s played. They should really retire that whole concept before it turns into something ugly that does damage to the company image. That is, if you can even name the company who runs those ads. Can you? Yeah, most of you probably can, despite the fact that these commercials have absolutely nothing to do with selling auto insurance.

For those of you that can’t name the company, it’s Geico. This isn’t their only ad campaign currently running. Unfortunately it isn’t their only bad ad campaign currently running either. They also have that stupid gecko with the British accent being followed around by the naturalist (who also has a British accent) observing his behavior. What’s that about? Humor? Couldn’t somebody have told these guys that those spots are not even remotely funny? And what’s with all the English accents when trying to sell auto insurance in America? If this is British humor, that might explain things – but it still doesn’t excuse the bad ads.

All right I’m going to give Geico a break here and recognize them for an outstanding ad campaign that they ran in the recent past. The one where people in perilous situations set you up to hear them answer important questions with I just saved a ton of money on auto insurance by switching to Geico. That campaign rocked. Some of those commercials fooled absolutely everybody until the end when they pulled the “gotcha.” Usually they set you up to where somebody said But I have good news…. It was entertaining, it was brilliant, and most importantly it had everybody in America imitating it around the office water cooler (trying to “get” their co-workers with the But there is good news line).

The current ad campaigns really suck by comparison, especially the Geico gecko. The cave man ads started off being funny, because the characters in the ads are entertaining. But they have apparently played this angle out to it’s full potential. In the beginning just the angry stares of the characters were hilarious. But they were funny in a light-beer commercial kind of way, not in a way that does any real product branding.

It wasn’t long after the ad campaign started before a sitcom with the cavemen hit prime-time TV. It failed miserably and was soon canceled. Apparently they ran out of good plots just as fast as the commercials ran out of usable spins on the concept.

The current angle on the cavemen is having Geico signs pop up in unexpected places, resulting in the cavemen throwing their hands up in the air in disgust. It ain’t funny. It’s not entertaining. It’s…… old. I’m getting sick of these guys and I can’t imagine any new spins that are going to save them. If this company insists on pushing this ad campaign on us any further, they are going to be in danger of generating the same disgust the cavemen have for their company in the people watching the commercials. I am just about there.

And by the way, ads that depict people being disgusted with your company are a really stupid idea, no matter how you spin them.

Papa Riah