Friday, September 10, 2010

The Art of Deception

For years retail companies have made a science of boldly deceiving their customers. They have spent untold billions of dollars in misleading, false, and sketchy advertising campaigns and billions more to design their packaging to make it seem like we are getting more than we really are. How many times have you expectantly opened up a big package only to reveal a small object inside? How many times have you compared the glossy, over-the-top advertising photo with the unimpressive product that you actually received? What about those stores that endlessly advertise their big sales, yet their prices never reflect any actually savings? Meats pumped up with water to increase their weight, products inflated with air to increase their volume, hidden fees, processing and handling charges that are more than the product itself, tiny unreadable fine print. Dang. Why does it have to be like this? Why can't companies and their leaders consistently aim to be up front with their customers and actually show them some respect? Why does everything have to seem like a scam?

We're practically giving them away! ... Up to 75% off! ... Act now, supplies are limited!

What set me off on this mini-rant was my package of Breyer's ice cream. In the good old days, I used to be able to buy a half gallon (2.0 quarts) of premium, all-natural ice cream for about $3. They then decided to shrink their package size from 2.0 quarts to 1.75 quarts. Now it is a paltry 1.5 quarts. What is aggravating is that the price has only been increasing, and now is up to about $4 per package. More distasteful than all of this is that my "premium, all-natural" ice cream, which is clearly labeled as such, now contains compounds that are added to the mixture purposely to allow them to add significant amounts of air to the product. Some estimates that I have found state that the added air leads to a doubling of volume. So, I am actually paying about 4 times more for a given amount of an inferior product.

Corporate america - maximize, but you can take your bottom line and shove it.