Make Your Life Easier or Fall Victim to False Advertising?
[January 8, 2007]
Television commercials for the company Telemarket that air regularly on several Armenian TV channels offer customers various household items that become useless after a single use.
In the commercials, which were filmed in the USA, actors showcase with enthusiasm the “magical” Nicer Dicer for cutting vegetables, the Swivel Sweeper electric sweeper, Klear Active anti-acne face gel, and other items. Prices start from 19,900 drams, plus a shipping and handling fee of 590 drams.
At the end of the commercial it says that if the products do not meet expectations, the customer has fifteen days to return them. All the buyers that came to us were prepared to return their products, if only they could.
Anjela Harutyunyan used the Nicer Dicer once, and only to try it out. “In the commercial they show how it's possible to quickly and beautifully cut any vegetable. The first time I tried to cut potatoes, the blade got twisted. Raw vegetables either got smashed or stuck in the blades or the blades got twisted up lost their sharpness. I truly regret paying 20,000 drams for this toy,” Harutyunyan said.
Each Telemarket telephone operator is tasked with persuading customers that they are misusing their newly purchased gadgets. “If the blades are not cutting, that means you are not applying enough force; if the blades are breaking, it means you are applying too much force,” the operators say over the phone.
Hasmik Mesropyan bought the Nicer Dicer on December 3. She says everything would have been alright if the commercial had mentioned that the gadget is intended for boiled vegetables.
“When you watch the commercial, it immediately entices, because it's really useful for the kitchen. I ordered it, and they delivered it right away. By the way, the carrier forgot to bring the warranty slip, but I didn't pay much attention to that at the time, because I didn't imagine that I would possibly want to return the device. In the TV ad they showed that it's possible to cut vegetables without any effort, everything was very easy and smooth. I tried to cut cabbage and carrots with it but it didn't cut. I immediately called them. They told me that I had to exert some force, but it wouldn't even cut onions. They totally declined my requests to give me their address. The delivery man came again and changed the device. I tried to explain that if I exerted some force the blades would twist and come out of their places, but if I didn't exert any force, then it wouldn't cut any vegetables. But the delivery man wasn't persuaded. He didn't care," Mesropyan said.
A second device met the same fate before our eyes. During its very first use, the Nicer Dicer's blades were destroyed along with some potatoes.
Anna Khachatryan was also told she was “misusing the device,” and that “‘in reality it's easy to use, and whoever has seen the commercial already has an idea how to use it.' I really want my money back. I can't get over this fraud. I was upset for several days, I couldn't do anything,” Khachatryan said.
“I think that I was a victim of false advertising. I have to say that I didn't like their service either. First, the box of the device and the instruction manual were crumpled, and the carrier did not return my change. But that's nothing. I was completely shocked when I tried to use this Nicer Dicer and it didn't correspond at all to the ad. I immediately called them. While on the phone, I was trying to use the thing and explain why I was dissatisfied. But they didn't listen. They stubbornly insisted that I was using the device incorrectly, I was pressing it wrong, etc.,” she said.
Each buyer is given a 15-day money back guarantee. But, as Telemarket customers found out, returning money is not part of the company's plans. The money-back guarantee is only valid if the product is not damaged. But this is completely impossible, especially because Nicer Dicer becomes damaged after its very first use.
Anahit Gevorgyan purchased the electric Swivel Sweeper. “This gadget has one flaw, which doesn't make it hard to use, it makes it impossible to use. The problem is that before using the sweeper, it has to be charged. But even if I charge it for the whole day, I won't be able to even sweep my kitchen. I thought I was doing something wrong. I tried to ask them for an explanation, but to this day I haven't heard from them, “Gevorgyan said.
There seems to be no question of misuse, since all the other buyers of the magic broom have faced the same problem. Each of the ten customers were interviewed said that the device was no good.
“After several days of telephone calls I managed to reach the director. I told him that I would go to court. He replied that I'd have to deal with the National Security Agency. And I am decided against the additional hassle,” said a woman who purchased Nicer Dicer. She decided not to reveal her name.
According to the Republic of Armenia's Law On Advertising, advertising that is dishonest in part is considered fully dishonest. Article 21, Paragraph 1 forbids the publication and distribution of dishonest advertising, including intentionally misleading ads. In order to declare advertising dishonest, evidence is necessary that the advertising has misled or caused danger to society. According to the same article “misleading means the ability of advertising to partially or fully provide unreliable information about advertisers, about the real capabilities of products, such as quantity, quality, specifics, price and other information, as well as when the manipulation and omission of certain details by advertisers has caused deception of legal entities or individuals
According to Article 13 of the Law on the Protection of Consumers' Rights, if incorrect information about the product or the producer has caused a consumer to purchase a product which does satisfy the consumer, then the consumer has a right to declare the contract void and request full compensation.
We tried to ask our questions and voice the complaints of the consumers to the management of Telemarket, but they didn't want to talk with us on the phone and refused to give us their address or another phone number. One thing is clear, they operate in secret. Telemarket's office is somewhere on Charents—victims of false advertising can try Charents 58. But we warm you that the doors may not open for you. They didn't for us.