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All About Disclaimers

Posted on 7/29/2016 by Craig Abler

Disclaimers are the part of an advertisement, usually at the end, that spell out the details of the advertisement. The disclaimer is supposed to be read at the same volume and speed as the rest of the ad. In television ads, the disclaimer must be clear and large enough to read. In print media, the disclaimer must be a certain font size.

For years the disclaimer would say something like “To Qualified Credit” meaning the offer was good if your credit was good enough.

Over the last few years however, advertisers seem to take more liberties with disclaimers. As part of my job, I have to know what is in the statutes as far as advertising practices.

Advertisements that have been deemed as deceptive trade practices by the Federal Trade Commission include the following:

- Having a disclaimer that refutes the body of the ad. For example, the ad says over and over "Everybody’s Approved!" Then in the disclaimer, there are restrictions like "To Approved Credit" and "Zero Money Down." Then in the disclaimer, down payment is required.

- "The Dealer will pay you more than Blue Book for your Trade-In" is deemed a deceptive trade practice.

- "The Dealer will pay off your old loan no matter how much you owe" is a deceptive trade practice unless the dealer states in the advertisement that your balance will be added to your new loan.

Most of the automotive advertisements do not follow the established rules these days. Most automotive ads contain deceptive terms. Regulation is the most lax that it has ever been. In my opinion, we have come to a sad state of affairs.

I have gone away from advertisements with disclaimers. My radio ads mean what they say. Period.

My question is this: Why would the public want to do business with a business that promotes itself using deceptive or bait and switch type of marketing? If a business is not truthful up front, how can they be trusted after the words?