Manufacturers are sneaky people. The simple truth is they’re out to make money, which is legitimate. But there are times when they do that in not-so-legitimate ways. Sometimes, that means adding buzzwords to their products that will make people pay more. It also means putting terms and conditions in a tiny text that they think we won’t notice. And unfortunately, it means flat-out lying to customers about the product they’re getting.
Companies have always looked for easy ways to make a buck. If customers will buy it, they’ll produce it — especially if it’s easy for them to make. After all, why focus on making better products if your audience will buy the old ones in new packaging?
But most consumers have realized that manufacturers aren’t always their friends. People are getting smarter about the way they shop. And because of that, those old tricks that companies use to convince them that they’re getting a better product aren’t cutting it.
So, watch out, companies. You can put things in brighter packaging but we weren’t born yesterday. At the end of the day, it’s up to them to deliver on what they promise.
1. When they tried to tell us Snickers bars were double size
Oh, come on, Snickers. Did you really think that no one was going to do a size comparison? If you want to get away with it, don’t put all the candy bars on the same shelf.
2. When “approximately 40 inches actually meant 28
“Approximately 40″ doesn’t actually mean anything, so it’s a sneaky way of making people think they know what they’re getting. “Approximately 40″ could mean any number, really. After all, 1,000 is pretty close to 40 on a scale of one to one million.
3. When they said this packaging was biodegradable
Well, this one is just a plain lie. Why put “biodegradable” on an obviously plastic package? Because people make an effort to buy products that are earth-friendly. It doesn’t actually matter if your package is really biodegradable or not. It’s whatever gets the product off the shelf.
4. When they dangled the phrase “Free Beer”
Hey, do you want to go to a party with free beer? Who doesn’t? Oh, wait, that very misleading sign actually says “Free Wi-Fi, Cold Beer”. Of course, it was actually a pretty transparent ploy to catch your attention.
5. When they thought we wouldn’t read past the first line
This product proclaims it’s “100 percent juice,”, but read the fine print. This is the equivalent of coughing into your fist to hide the end of a sentence. “It’s 100 percent juice COUGH COUGH and other ingredients.”
6. When this olive oil was actually 90 percent sunflower oil
Wait, what do you mean this bottle labeled “olive oil” with the picture of olives on it is actually…almost entirely sunflower oil? Oh yes, there’s the label…in almost transparent writing that you have to squint to see.
7. When they tried to make a tiny portion size look big
This old trick makes you think you’re getting a nice big portion of chocolate. Shame on you, manufacturers. You probably just ruined someone’s childhood with your skimpy portions. That child will remember the Easter Bunny as a big fat liar.
8. When they said they were resizing
Oh look, Dove Men came out with a new size of body wash! It costs a few extra dollars, but it’s worth it for more product, right? Except for the fact that those red letters don’t mean anything. You’re just paying additional money for the letters.
9. When this knife was made of copper and also steel
This knife is so fancy, isn’t it? The letters at the top proclaim that it’s a COPPER KNIFE. Apparently, you can call something anything you want as long as you put it on a label. Look at my fancy diamond knife…it’s just stainless steel.
10. When the label hid how much product we were getting
Look at this full tube of deodorant! It will last me for months and months. Well, actually, if you peel the label off, you can see that it’s only about one-third full.
11. When the free kettle wasn’t really free
When you check into this hotel, you have a kettle in your room, obviously for free use. But if you look in the binder, you’ll actually find there’s a fine for using the kettle. The free kettle in your room.
12. When the portions didn’t fit the box
This has got to be the ultimate disappointment, buying a nice big box of chocolates only to find that it has big empty spots interspersed all the way through. In fact, that box is only about 50 percent full.
13. When they disguised an ad as an emergency alert
This is a pretty low move. Getting people to look at your ad by scaring them about an emergency is incredibly tacky. Ironically, it’s for a service that is supposed to help them relax.
14. When they tried to make food look better than it was
If your method of getting me to buy your food is by lying to me, it makes me think your food really isn’t that good. I wonder how much they charged for a few strips of meat and cheese.
15. When their “bigger” wasn’t really better
This bag proclaims there’s “more to share”, but a quick peek at the fine print says that it’s actually the exact same size as the standard bag. Did they really think we wouldn’t check for that?
16. When they tried to charge 40 cents a minute for parking
Four dollars for parking sounds like a great deal, especially in the middle of a city. But whoops, that’s actually $4 for 10 minutes. Considering no one actually uses a parking garage for 10 minutes, that’s a rip-off.
17. When they disguised ads as parking citations
This is a perfect way to make all prospective clients instantly hate you. Getting them in a bad mood because they think they’ve gotten a parking ticket is poor advertising.
18. When they hid the right download button in a bunch of fakes
This isn’t clever as much as just annoying. You have to find the right download button in a host of fakes. Clicking the wrong one means opening a pop-up ad.
19. When they flat-out lied
“Enriched with vitamin A” makes people feel like they’re getting something at least marginally healthy. But it turns out it’s a total lie — all you have to do is look at the nutrition information.
20. When there were terms and conditions
Seven dollars for two pizzas sounds like a great deal. It might be for one pizza, too, but that’s still some sneaky fine print. There’s no need to try to trick your customers.
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