Deceptive sales practices are a real problem in the security industry. These practices can be used by both reputable and less than scrupulous companies to get you to buy something that you don’t need. The best way to avoid them is to check to see if the company is legitimate and to make sure that the salesperson you deal with is licensed.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued guides on how to recognize deceptive pricing ads. While the guide does not cover the full spectrum of deceptive pricing techniques, the guide does provide some general principles that the commission will consider when deciding whether a particular ad is deceptive. For example, if an ad compares a price from one product to another, the ad must include an actual comparison between the two products.
The FTC also requires that the ad be for a genuine price. To qualify as a deceptive ad, a product’s price must be at least 10 percent lower than its actual cost. And the advertisement must clearly disclose the timeframe in which the price is in effect.
A similar scheme abounds in the insurance industry. Insurance salespeople have been known to use high-pressure sales tactics in order to persuade potential customers to sign up for a policy. They may also resort to omitting information that would have otherwise been useful to the consumer.
One of the most commonly used deceptive sales practices is the use of bait and switch. The idea behind the scheme is to lure a prospective customer with a tempting offer. Once the buyer accepts the offer, the retailer will sell them a higher priced product.
Another deceptive gimmick is the use of an online real estate property value estimation tool. This is a simple and effective method of generating leads for “premier agents.” However, the tool is only available to consumers who are willing to pay a fee. In addition, the tool is not legally allowed to be offered for free.
There are many more examples of deceptive sales practices. It is not possible to count them all. Some examples are the use of a misleading price, the display of a product’s true cost, or the esoteric use of a white-coated doctor or seal of the British monarchy to imply that the product has a more expensive sticker price.
A deceptive sales tactic involving a company’s website is the use of an ad to generate advertising revenue from other lenders. Often the ad is used to obtain a lead from a real estate broker. Zillow has also been accused of such an illegitimate practice.
Despite the prevalence of deceptive sales practices, the alarm industry has made some headway in raising consumer awareness of the hazards of these tricks. Notably, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has sued credit-reporting firm TransUnion for using deceptive advertising to get consumers to subscribe to a subscription service. Director Chopra has called for sterner punishments for firms involved in such scams.