do advertisers get away too easily with misleading us?

Submitted by turbosprout on Fri, 2006-08-25 10:30

This was the title of today's After 8 Debate on SAFM. And listening to the panelists and the callers phoning in, I'd say yep it is way too easy for the South African public to be misled.

What are two products that everyone owns (assuming that you can afford them)? A car and a cellphone come to mind. And which products were those that were most complained about? Misleading advertising of car purchase plans and cellphone contracts!

Car finance companies (usually the car manufacturers) are guilty of hiding the REALLY IMPORTANT TERMS AND CONDITIONS conveniently in the small print. They don't want you to know that after paying your R600 a month for 4 years they will repossess your car because you are unable to afford the R30 000 residual value (such a euphamism!) to make the car legally yours. John Perlman said that a particular motoring magazine was scrutinised and 9 such payment plan centered adverts found of which 1 spelt out the residual payment.

Cell phone contracts and charges are as difficult to to understand as your banking fees. Where else in the world are you tied in to a 24 month contract for a "free" cellphone. Actually it's a 25 month contract as one caller pointed out when it comes to Cell-C.

The advertising agencies seemed to be sidestepping the issues neatly by placing the responsibility of misleading advertising with their clients. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) admitted that they can withdraw unethical advertisements, but only once a complaint has been received by the public, so they will always operate in a reactive manner.

So what does this have to do with green news?

There seems to be a common thread of unethical behaviour at the expense of the end user (consumer or tax payer) running through society. Whether it's big business ripping us off financially or destroying ecologically sensitive areas in order to rake in profits (golf estates come to mind), it's the little guy - you and me - that suffer for it.

I've had enough of listening to the lies of advertising. Being sold products that promise a better life, but end up robbing us in so many ways. Just let me know the facts, the truth, the fine print big enough for all to see....

( categories: )