Avoid False Advertising: Rules To Advertise Your Business Online7:46 PM
Every business owner wants his or her business to surpass the rest of the businesses in sales. Such...
Every business owner wants his or her
business to surpass the rest of the businesses in sales. Such business
owners often use their ads to try to trump the other business. False
advertising is a problem that often enters the scene without the
business owner even knowing it. Such people can create misleading
advertisements in trying to get consumers to buy their goods over the
What Is False and Misleading Advertising?Misleading advertising is any deceptive information that you post online to attract customers. The content becomes misleading when it promises something that excites the consumer, but the vendor does not deliver on the promise. Some business owners intentionally mislead their customers and are fully aware of their deceptiveness.
Some business owners make innocent mistakes. Unfortunately for business owners, the Federal Trade Commission sees intentional and accidental misleading advertisements as the same animal. They will act accordingly whether the business claims an accidental error or not.
Examples of False and Misleading AdvertisingA business owner may wonder what misleading advertising is. Many examples of such a crime exist. Let’s take this case as an example: The Europcar car rental company received a $100,000 fine because it confused the customers with complex insurance options so they would purchase out of frustration. Another example of misleading advertising is telling a customer that an online subscription is $2.99 per month and then obligating the person to sign up for a year of service to receive the discount. This trick rides the fine line of dishonesty because the price does come out to be $2.99 a month, but the vendor more than likely knows that the consumer does not want to pay for a year to get the deal.
Consequences of Misleading AdvertisingFor a report of misleading advertising to hit, a customer or a competitor has to report the charge. The FTC will then investigate the claim. They may respond by making the business remove the false ad and announce that the previous one was in error. They may also ask that the ad be taken down during the investigation.
States may also have separate laws that govern dishonest advertising. The state may force the business to pay restitution to any person the dishonest advertising affected. The state may also administer fines or jail time.
How to Avoid False AdvertisingOne way to avoid false advertising is not to use the term free unless an item is indeed free with no additional charges. Consumers want to receive their products or services for $0 when they see an ad that uses the term “free.” Another way to avoid misleading ads is to never use the terms “instant” or “easy.” Not all processes are quick for everyone, and they certainly are not all easy either. You should describe all products accurately and precisely, especially on your Internet ads. Do not use picture editing software to make items look bigger than they are. The customer will be quite disappointed to find that the product is not what he or she ordered. Finally, make sure you have enough of the product to go around so that customers are not disappointed with a backorder notice.
You can avoid getting into trouble with the FTC or developing a bad reputation with your customers if you heed the previously mentioned warnings and tips.