On my way to the forum.. of business ethics.

Truth in advertising has been a problem for decades in American business. When viewing a local television station, I realized how often conniving advertisements attempt to pierce the soul and engage our emotions in order to make a sale. One particular commercial that caught my eye advertised several vehicles from a local new-car sales lot that have below manufacturer suggested price. More unbelievable statements included a low down security deposit and monthly payments under $150 that a high school teenager could afford. I believed it was time to investigate this claim of an outrageously compliable vehicle purchase.


Upon taking a picture of the commercial and enlarging the fine print, I found that the buyer must have an approved credit score (over 800 I am sure) and a low income to debt relationship. I drove to the car lot and spoke with one of the sales agents that was eagerly awaiting my attendance. I feel that I was in luck because the sales agent appeared to be a sales rookie because he started spilling his guts over the sale and what a great time it was to be there. At the end of his spiel, I asked about the cheap car. He stumbled quickly through the explanation that the vehicle was a basic model with no extras, just a frame with an engine, and that there was only one lot number for that vehicle. It was a moot point because they did not have one.

In return, I asked him additional questions about if they would be getting another vehicle in with the same price and equipment as the advertised vehicle. In a quick and simple explanation of doubt, he attempted to guide me to other models. I stopped him short and ascertained on how their marketing department could show that particular vehicle, under those conditions, not have one in order to get someone onto their lot to buy a vehicle greater than what was advertised. He did not have the answer to my question so he went inside and I assume got the general sales manager. As him and his double-breasted business suit manager with the face of disgust approached the front doors, I did not feel that I needed to be hassled so I left a lot. I do not like confrontation so I took a big chance on this experiment. In short, my example does not illustrate ethical business conduct.


As I traveled home, I regurgitated the commercial and found that the advertisement was focused on selling the product in ways of making it shine in the sun, traveling high speeds around curves, and using exciting words and vocalization in the propaganda of how great this car is at such a low price. The catch was using money in selling the product because it was such a low price and low payments per month just to get you onto the lot so the vultures could encircle you. This that draws the line of ethical sales techniques because it does not carry but only one of the advertised product in order to get individuals into the showroom then shown higher marketed vehicles with more bells and whistles. These days, many people are hurting for financial stability and I believe that it is a big waste of time and money to drive over to the car lot and be told that there was no more vehicles at that price and later, being pressured into a vehicle that could not be afforded. Then again, anyone who has grown up in America in the past 20 years has most likely gotten the idea that marketing is usually too good to be true. A conclusion to this epidemic is to realize that anything seen on TV does not always work and not always honest. Always read descriptions, contracts, and the fine print for the product.

In conclusion, buyers beware. We all do not have money to frivolously spend on non-researched items. We do not have additional time to spend driving from place to place in order to get sideswiped with additional fees and lies. I ask of you all, be conservative in you purchases and time. It is all valuable, do not wish that you could take something back later on in life.

One Comment

Leave a Comment

  1. Sam Lawrence says:

    This advertisement definitely led consumers to believe they would get a deal that they are very unlikely to realize. It seems like many car commercials focus on appearance, making new cars do amazing things on the screen, as you said. Further, this is present even on cereal boxes with glue used as milk because it looks more appetizing. Should these ‘serving suggestions’ always be avoided?

    It is truly a waste of time to drive to the car lot and find missing what you came for. Since advertisers probably know that consumers are more likely to buy anything just because they drove there, is such advertising a deceptive use of bait and switch? Since consumers fully believe they will drive a new car off the lot, they might make it happen even if it is not the new car they wanted.

Comments are now closed for this article.