Monday, June 15, 2009

*Conditions Apply

This is becoming a demented statement. At best, it takes the fizz out of an advertisement. At worst, it invalidates an ad totally.

I think, the more appropriate way is to capture the entire gist of an ad completely with all the core information (selling point + catch point) to present it as a case to the consumer. How does it sound for an ad to say flight tickets starting from Rs 1. Then add a "*" to it, then say in the bottom (in fine print) "Taxes and Government levies extra", and then leave the user to find out that the tax is Rs 1800, making the effective price to be 1801 Rs? Eventually, these ads lead to them being ignored after a cursory glance. Sadly, they also take out the credibility of *all ads*.

I remember a few years ago, when an internet company advertised monthly unlimited internet access for $39.99 (the ad essentially said just that). That was very tempting as prevailing prices at that time were close to $60. So my friend called them and he had the nerve to ask them "What is the catch?" (I laughed out loud when he told me this). The lady on the line kept insisting that there was none. Suddenly, on intuition, he asked,  "Is there a minimum period for which I need to keep the connection?". At this, the lady put him on hold for a few minutes and came back - "Yes. There is two year contract period. And early termination penalty is $200.00". So essentially, we were required to commit business for about $960.00 to avail the lower rates. "*Conditions apply" again. Instead, how about quoting the ad as "Unlimited internet access for $39.99 only! Requires two year contract" (may be second sentence in slightly smaller font - not fine print!). The entire gist is available to an interested consumer - and no wasting every one else's time.

I guess it is too much to ask for now. Many times, the customers don't have much alternative but to stick with those companies anyway!

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