T&C’s that leave a bad taste in your mouth

Spike Farrell has started a bi-weekly column for Northglen News.
Spike Farrell.

NOW here’s something that really gets my goat, in fact the whole herd. A little phrase which advertisers place in their ads, “Terms and Conditions Apply.” This seemingly innocuous few words can, with skilful use, hide a multitude of sins.

For example, you see an advert for a new car you are interested in buying, the picture looks great, and the price seems like a bargain, so off you trot to the local dealership for a closer look.

Once there, you see the car on the showroom floor, exactly as it looked in the advert, and a salesman trundles up to have a chat with you. So far, so good. He gives you the grand tour of the vehicle and once you are happy with that, you go for a test drive. Still all on stream so far. Once back in the showroom, he sits you down at his desk and starts to do the quotation.

Now this is where things start to go a bit wobbly. The car you saw in the advert, and the car on the showroom floor is actually not the standard model that the advertised price referred to. Much to your abject horror, the salesman’s finger flashes across his calculator as he adds all the things you would like on your new car, things like aircon, ABS, alloy wheels, sound system, service plan and other bits and pieces, things that should have been included in the first place.

It gets so bad, he might as well say “And would you like an engine with that, sir?” as by now the price of the car has leaped by about R30 000! Then, to add insult to injury, when you say you want to pay cash with no finance involved, he says “Sorry sir, the special price is only for finance customers, a cash deal will be more!” ARRRGH! And when you dare to say that was not in the advert, he grins at you and points out a few words at the bottom of the ad, so small you could probably only see them by using the Hubble Space telescope or a nuclear microscope, the words “Terms and Conditions Apply.” See what I mean?

A massive price in the ad, and a tiny “Terms and Conditions Apply.” I know what you’re thinking, I should have studied the ad more carefully, but you don’t do you? In your mind, you connect the ‘specced-up’ pic of the car with the seemingly good price, and off you go.

I am actually not sure whether this is misleading or not, it certainly obeys the letter of the advertising law because it does tell you certain conditions are to be expected with the advertised deal, but still, it does leave a bad taste in your mouth, and leaves you with a feeling of slight frustration.

Why on earth don’t they advertise the complete vehicle with everything already in place for the advertised price? That would stop upsetting customers. I mean, the French tend to produce a car with all options already in place, plonk a price on it, and wait for the customers to turn up. Then don’t force customers to do a sort of automotive Lego game when they come to buy a car. And even some of the cheapest cars from the Far East, you know, the cars produced especially for people who are fed up with falling off their bicycles and mo-peds, have aircon, power steering and a service plan as standard.

No messing about with “Terms and Conditions Apply”, and at least you know where you are. But wait, as they say on TV, there’s more. E&OE, Errors and Omissions Excepted. I can’t prove it, but I am sure the more unscrupulous advertisers use this as an excuse if something catastrophic “happens” in their advertising, such as incorrect or incomplete information. Buyers Beware! It just makes me mad! If they advertise a car, they should advertise it properly.
Don’t make it a mission to make customers build a car to suit them by putting a million extras on the vehicle, and boost the price by a vast amount, if the French and far eastern manufacturers can do it, so can everyone! It really, really bugs me!

John Farrell

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