The campaigns were cheesy and obvious when they first accosted our homes back in the 1970s, and it seems little has changed. To this day the public is offered ludicrous product at exorbitant prices that the merchant is either too embarrassed to share or worried it will scare the punter away. That comes later and relies on the human propensity for finding it difficult to say no. Reality hits home weeks later when it appears on the bank statement.
Surely the days of outlandish pledges about life-changing merchandise vociferated by seemingly unhinged individuals (many would think twice welcoming them through the front door) are over?
All the risk is with the consumer through a deceptive return scheme where they pay for having the item for a month, then charged again for postage and packaging when sent back. Wouldn’t integrity perception be further enhanced if these fringe retailers displayed prices on the TV screen prior to the client engaging?
But wait, there’s more. Then, there is the perceived dubious beneficence of freebies if you “order right now”. It is hard to imagine the goods being sold without the complementary instructions, electrical accessories and the carry-case it comes in. For the items to qualify as ‘free’, wouldn’t they need to be offered and sold separately? Likewise, the multi-deal complicity when the second, third and even fourth unit is gratis, it would have to be corroborated by the availability of a single price alternative for the public. A questionable concept relying on peer pressure within family and friends.
Isn’t it time for this retail sideshow to drop the duplicity tactics and forge an open and honest relationship with the populace by the new generation home-shopping retailers stepping-up, challenging and policing their industry? This is no longer the captive market it once was and will continue to erode unless a transparent way is found to stay current and above all ethical.
As to why traditional retail has any association with this fiasco is confusing at best. Why add to the noise pollution by exposing the consumer to the drivel that spews from instore TV advertorial – often of product that has little bearing or relevance to the business.
Dave Farrell is a retailer with three decades of experience on three continents. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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