Emerald Business Systems Blog


“Know key terms for shoppers, merchants”

Posted in General Business,Retail by ebs4pos on December 13, 2009

During what is traditionally a peak shopping period, there are five terms that both businesses and consumers need to be familiar with, the Better Business Bureau for the Oregon region said. Used incorrectly, they can mislead consumers, damage a business’ brand or reputation and land them in hot water, the BBB said.

The first term to be aware of is just one word — “free,” the BBB said. This can only be used if the advertiser is offering a temporary gift, with no conditions, according to the BBB. If it is a “buy one, get one free” offer, the conditions must be clearly spelled out. And, the BBB said, “an advertiser may not increase the price of the purchased item, nor decrease quantity or quality in conjunction with the free offer.”

The second term to be aware of is “save up to …,” the BBB said. Price-reduction claims like this should give both the minimum and maximum savings, without misleading consumers by over emphasizing the maximum possible savings, the BBB said. “For example: An advertiser should not imply that the majority of the items on the sales rack are 50 percent off, when only 2 out of the 30 items are on sale for that discount,” the BBB said.

The third item on the BBB’s list is the phrase “lowest price.” Prices often fluctuate and it can be difficult to pin down whether a price is lower than a competitor’s at any given time, the BBB said. “Such claims should be avoided unless the advertiser can provide substantiation.”

A tactic known as “bait and switch” is flat out illegal, the BBB said. In these cases, an advertisment “baits” a consumer with an attractive offer for a product or service that the company doesn’t actually plan to sell.

Instead, the seller tries to convince the customer to buy a product or service at a higher price. Or, the BBB said, the product or service turns out to be lower quality than what was advertised.

The fifth item on the BBB list is “guarantees and warranties.” Phrases such as “satisfaction guaranteed” should only be used in advertising if the seller or manufacturer will refund the full purchase price at the buyer’s request, the BBB said.

A “lifetime guarantee,” the BBB said, should clearly spell out the exact length of time the offer is valid. Limitations or conditions should be clearly and prominently disclosed, at the advertiser’s store or on their Web site, the BBB said.

via Business: Home | “Know key terms for shoppers, merchants” | The Register-Guard | Eugene, Oregon.

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