Whether you celebrate Easter, Passover or something in between (or nothing at all), chances are you may have spent the last few days with family. This may evoke some interesting conversation should they know you are in the technology sector.
A family member (who shall remain nameless even though he doesn’t have internet and most likely won’t see this blog) came into to our Easter gathering with a newspaper clipping about this magical new antenna that would tune in every station you ever desired.
This company had taken out a full page ad (with ‘paid advertisement’ in that tiny little font). “Public gets Free TV with no monthly bills.” The ad (that looks oh so much like a news article) goes on to say, “Federal law makes TV network giants broadcast Free TV signals regionally to crystal clear digital picture in all 50 states, allowing U.S. households to pull in Free TV with a sleek micro antenna device engineered to pull in nothing but Free TV channels with no cable, satellite or internet connection and no monthly bills.”
Gold right? And totally true. We, AV experts have known this, but maybe the average consumer has not. For many–this is what they have been waiting for. A way to cut the cord! And it’s mandated by the federal government, so it must be totally legit.
But here is the rub.
The article goes on to tell us, “Who gets Free TV: Listed below are the Buffalo area zip codes (I love the fact that they localize this by mentioning the city you’re in and the local zip codes) that get Free over the air TV channels. If you live in one of these areas immediately call…”
Its goes on to list all the zips codes in the area. Not, a lie, right. If one person in the zip can get digital stations, I’m sure they are allowed to list it. What about the rest of the people in that zip? Too bad. So sad. Is it ever mentioned that one may NOT be able to pull in these glorious “free” channels? Nada. THIS is what bothers me about the ad.
The family member mentioned above lives in a remote area (no pun intended). One scarcely gets cell service at the house. He currently subscribes to a satellite service. We’ve told him before that digital stations drop off, unlike analog where they faded out. You either get them, or you don’t. Upon seeing this article in print, he began to doubt our expertise. Had he not had us in the family, I’m sure he would have purchased this unit only to be dissatisfied.
Countless times—especially during the analog to digital conversion—I have been told by a client how a neighbor or friend pulls in 27 stations of off-air and they’re not getting a thing. I try to explain science to them, but they believe in their heart of hearts that I don’t know. They believe there is a magic bullet, like this antenna, that will solve all their problems. Then this ad comes along—that looks like a news article—that tells them exactly what they want to hear.
I’m sure Clear Cast is reeling in the bucks, but not for the right reason. I think they are taking advantage of the desire for free TV, and I’m not the only one. The BBB (Better Business Bureau) has received several complaints alleging the product does not perform as advertised and/or delay in providing refunds as promised.
They have also been, “receiving numerous calls from consumers throughout the U.S. who were voicing concerns regarding a Clear Cast HDTV Digital Antenna’s national print advertisement.”
After reviewing the “overall impression of the ad, the Committee came to the conclusion that they feel the company is using sales tactics in their advertisement that are misleading. We find that the company does not clearly express that Clear Cast is not the reason they save money or can get the channel, but rather uses overhyped marketing to inflate an already existing opportunity that is available for free to anyone with the proper equipment. The BBB feels these types of misleading advertising is purposeful and do not feel the company is in compliance with our BBB Code of Advertising. BBB Code of Advertising states that misrepresentation may result not only from direct statement but by omitting or obscuring material facts.
The company agreed to make some changes to the Clear Cast advertisement.”
I saw the ad on Easter, so maybe they’re still working on those changes? One thing is for certain, we the AV expert are here to serve the client. To save them from hyped up claims and cheap electronics.
The next time a client or family member doubts your proficiency tell them, “Trust me–I’m a professional.” They’ll follow you happily into the sunset of everlasting AV goodness or reap the troubles of their bad decisions. Either way, you’ll be able to sleep at night.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is project manager/designer for Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.