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This paper which is in the form of question and answers talks about the legal aspects attached to malicious practices involved in the various advertisements hosted by the companies or the dealers. The idea that is highlighted, through this discussion is that the advertisers are bound to keep their word whatever they show on their advertisement. They can not use it as a "bait" to attract customers and then "switch" or force them to buy any other commodity which is not advertised or offered.
Advertising and Communication Law
1. Betty drove three hours in one-hundred degree heat. Explain if this fact has any bearing on whether or not the dealer must perform in accordance with the published advertisement.
Ans. This fact doesn't have any direct bearing to the dealer's performance. But if Betty falls sick and since she is sixty years old who drove all alone to reach the showroom, can very well take the dealer to task. If Betty files a suit for the cheating done by the dealer, she can point out the circumstances in which, she reached the showroom. Her case will gain strength as it will depict mere exploitation of the customer by the vendor.
Not to forget, Betty had communicated this very well to Tony that she will be buying the truck in the advertised amount and she will be coming to collect it. Also she was ready to sell her Ford's car. Tony too had agreed on the deal. Betty was honest in sharing the details of her car but Tony was not. Both were ready to bargain but Betty who was experienced in selling cows knew how to make a deal.
Betty can very well prove that she had traveled so far believing the words of Tony, who later on changed the whole scheme of the deal. Tony tried to mislead Betty by showing the truck number through the magnifying glass but such acts of hiding of information can also be brought to book.
2. When Tony said over the phone "three thousand dollars firm," explain whether or not he was making an offer that, if accepted, would bind the dealership in contract.
Ans. As we can conclude from the promise made by Tony over the phone, the deal was already done; only the financial obligations were left. He made the offer and Betty was already willing to buy the commodity so virtually there was a binding contract between the dealer and Betty.
Further when Betty reached the showroom, Tony confirmed that he was the person on phone and he had given the verbal confirmation. It was only later that Betty was told that there was only one model of the car, which was not clear from the advertisement. Even though Betty agreed for a different color, Tony persuaded her to buy another model with a higher price tag which was a definite attempt of deception.
Such cases of bait and switch are considered unethical and deceptive. Tony was trying to mislead a customer who was ready to bargain her car for the truck and kept her word in getting it all along from her village and conveying the originality of the model and its parts. Betty was the owner of six hundred cows and she was actively involved in buying and selling them. Though she may be assumed to carry a rustic attitude but she was well informed about her rights as a customer and duties as a seller. She honestly clarified the amount on phone due for the whole bargain and turned up to collect her required stuff. She as a dealer had acquired business ethics but Tony reverted from his promise so Betty had to resort to threat. Because Tony knew, he made a mistake by fooling her, quickly showed signs of coming on track to Betty's demands.
3. Explain whether or not advertised specials can be taken advantage of by employees of the advertiser.
Ans. No, the advertised specials can not be taken advantage of by employees of the advertiser. For catering to the employee's demands, especially, different schemes should be established as they are already privileged with the information of the stock available with the employer. Rendering benefits to them which are meant for the customers is certainly not a good idea as it may deter the confidence of the buyers who always keep their hopes alive for any new schemes of discounts and offers on goods.
Employees can very avail the benefits of the commodities sold by the employers through classified notifications of sales of goods for them. If the interests of the employees and customers are mixed, then in majority of the cases or in all cases the employees can take a lead in taking away the benefits attached to a product. Since they will be the first ones to know about the scheme, as it happened in the play where, Jim an employee of the showroom buys the car before Betty is able to reach the place. Also consumers, come to know about offers or sale through media or word of mouth, which mostly takes more time than any employee to know of it.
Jim can be offered a car as he is also a consumer but through schemes which are meant for employees. Tony has ruined the plans of Jim as well, who would have made up his mind of buying the car. As an employee, he will also feel cheated. Such acts destroy the goodwill that employers enjoy, because of their employees and customers.
4. Explain to what extent an advertisement binds the advertiser to the terms of the advertisement.
Ans. Whatever has been advertised, should be the product, the advertiser wants to sell. They are not supposed to post some flashy object for ads and the exact good to be sold is different. It is totally illegal to fake objects. The situation may be quiet unnerving in case of eatables where the taste and the flavor are faked only to attract customers. Such cases can be brought to the legal books and then the companies or the advertisement agencies have to follow the court's ruling. According to the federal law, using deceptive techniques to lure the customer will either be punished or ordered to halt the services.
In 1995, the Federal Trade Commission filed a case against a Third Option Laboratories Inc. for making deceptive claims that its product "Jogging in a Jug" consisted of solvents which could clean the clogged arteries. Since this claim was false, the company had to settle the case in $480, 000 had to halt such advertisements and had to inform the customers for two years about the settlement, who directly ordered the drink from the store.
5. Explain to what extent an advertisement has to be true.
Ans. Whatever advertisement is done for a product, it should be totally true. Even if some fake elements are their to make the show glamorous or thrilling, proper declaration should be maintained by the advertiser whenever the advertisement appears in the print media or TV or any where else. As is evident by the conversations of Tony, he was busy convincing Betty anything else other than the truck advertised. He tries to divert her thoughts, offering her coffee and sympathizing on her toil trip. As he is aware that Betty belongs to a village, he assumes he will be able to coerce her to buy any other car.
He talks all different things to confuse and mesmerize Betty so that she gets trapped and has no choice but to buy other cars sold on a higher prize. Tony had advertised the car on a lower price so as to lure the customers. Later the same customers would be convinced by his fancy speech and buy other costly cars which would be a profit to Tony.
The federal law claims that if deceptive advertising means are used, the advertisers are either liable to be punishment or have to halt all advertisements. According to the Fifth Circuit court, the Supreme Court suggested that "inherently" deceptive ads can be banned while "potentially" deceptive ads can be restricted but not barred outright. In a case between FTC and Colgate Palmolive Company, it was brought to light that the Rapid Shave cream advertisement falsely used Plexiglas instead of sandpaper, to show that the cream could soften sand paper. We can conclude that Advertisement and Communication law provides for the satisfaction of the consumers and not to selfish intents of sellers or companies.