Tips for Consumers: Holiday Advertising Guidelines

Tips for Consumers
Holiday Advertising Guidelines

The biggest shopping months are here, and every year consumers in the Hagerstown area rush to take advantage of all the heavily advertised "specials" and "sales." Although most ads are truthful and provide real bargains, occasionally some stores use misleading claims. Here are some of the BBB Code of Advertising Rules you might want to keep in mind when doing your shopping.:
A Sale is defined as a significant reduction from the advertiser's usual and customary price of the merchandise offered for a limited time. We say that if the sale price is offered for more than 30 days, this becomes a regular price and the store should not continue to say that an item is on sale. Also remember that every store sets its own prices; shop around and compare.
"List price", "suggested retail price", "manufacturer's list", "reference price", and other such terms are often used to imply savings which are not true. Few businesses actually sell at so-called list prices anymore. They should be advertised only to the extent that they are the actual selling prices currently charged by the advertiser or other stores in our local area.
"Comparative Price." If the ad says "our price $50, compare at $75," this means the comparison price should be the same as the current actual selling price (not "list" price) of the same or comparable goods in other stores in this area.
"Factory direct", "factory to you", "factory outlet", accurate only if the merchandise is actually manufactured in factories owned or controlled by the advertiser.
"Wholesale" should not be used by retail stores unless the prices are the same as retailers pay when they buy merchandise for resale. We view such claims with skepticism.
"Lowest prices in town!" Nonsense! How can any company know every price of every competitor every day?
"We meet all competitors' prices." "Price protection" guarantees can be a great benefit to consumers; but the terms should be clear and easy to use. Some sellers create so many conditions that they are almost worthless.

Always contact the BBB to check out legitimate businesses. Visit their web site, www.baltimore.bbb.org or give them a call 24 hours a day at 410-347-3992. If you have a complaint, use the web site or write them at: BBB, 1414 Key Highway, #100, Baltimore, MD 21230. Their office serves Hagerstown and all of Washington County.