The incidents I’m going to tell you about might not rank as important global events, but deceptive advertising is a problem that is still happening, having not changed much since the snake oil salesmen days of more than 100 years ago.
The first deceptive ad involved a national organization, one that sends kids door-to-door selling food items (not the Girl Scouts of America, but close). When my kids were little, I rang many doorbells with them while they learned the fine art of salesmanship, so I’m always willing to help the new kids on the block. (Yeah, I know what I just wrote there.)
Anyway, I thought I was buying white chocolate covered pretzels. When you order from the kid-parent team at the door, you can’t see the product. You just fill your name out on a teeny, tiny little form and then check the boxes of the products you want.
Our order soon came in, and we all tried a pretzel. Not good. They didn’t taste like chocolate at all, and no wonder. The ingredient list showed all the usual awful preservatives you can’t pronounce, and there was no chocolate listed. The front of bag read “White Chocolatey Pretzels.” Note the added “y.” Really? Well, it was for a good cause, but that transaction left a bad taste in my mouth. (I have to stop with the puns.)
The next deceptive advertising incident got me for years, tricking me out of hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars.
I was regularly getting Redken color at an Aveda salon. What gives?
I decided to use Aveda products to help my hair from frizzing up every time there’s an ounce of humidity in the air, which in Atlanta, is practically always. I bought products to use at home, and I started going to an Aveda salon, assuming that such a salon would use Aveda products.
But I’ve since come to find out that only “Aveda Lifestyle Salons” consistently use Aveda products on clients. I was going to an “Aveda Concept Salon,” which doesn’t, unless the policy has somehow changed from last month. And I and anyone else not in the beauty business is supposed to know this how?
So the whole time I was going to this salon and paying top dollar for what I thought was Aveda color, I was getting Redken, a product I could have received at any strip mall walk-ins-welcome studio, and for a much cheaper price.
I still use Aveda products. I like them. What I have a problem with are the businesses that advertise themselves as being Aveda salons, displaying nothing but Aveda products in the open area where customers are and then stocking Redken in the employee-only backroom. Talk about bait and switch!
I believe in buyer beware and to take responsibility for your choices. Knowing what I know now, I would have asked the Aveda salon if I would be getting Aveda color. But really? Should I have to ask? There was an expectation set up that only Aveda products would be used. Why else display only Aveda products and hide the Redken ones?
This was deception by omission. If you don’t ask, we won’t tell. I would not have continued going to that salon if I knew I wasn’t getting Aveda color, and I feel I was tricked and used.
Hoping no one finds out what you’re really doing is no way to run a reputable business. It’s like the used car salesman who knowingly sells a piece of junk, crossing his fingers that the car will run long enough to get through the test drive.
No wonder my hair was still frizzing. It’s been a month since my first visit to an “Aveda Lifestyle Salon,” and my hair is in much better condition.
I’m disappointed that businesses can get away with bad behavior, and I hope this post can help others understand how to be smarter consumers. We have to be on guard from even the most unlikely places.