Tag Archives: misleading advertising

Buyer Beware: Deceptive Ads for External USB Hard Drive Power Cord Requirements

Summary

Anyone considering an external USB hard drive should thoroughly consider the power requirements for the device.

USB Powered

For those using a laptop computer, and planning on off-the-grid work running from battery power, an external drive that is USB powered is essential.

Drives Requiring a Separate Power Cable

Slightly lower-priced drives are available that use a separate power cord in addition to the USB data cable. Such drives typically are available in higher storage capacities as well. However, keep in mind that you’ll need to always be near a power outlet to use such drives. Also, having an additional power adapter results in one more thing that can go wrong causing your drive not to work.

Misleading Advertising

The drive shown in the advertisement below shows a single cable going from the drive to the computer. This is done intentionally to mislead customers into thinking that the drive requires only a single USB cable that serves as the data and power cable plugged into the computer.

However, if you read the fine print, you’ll see that the external drive requires an additional power adapter to function (included with the drive). Click here to view the product on Amazon.

You’ll notice that advertising images for such drives never show the side of the drive where the cables connect. This is to ensure that consumers are not fully informed about the product they are thinking about buying.

Advertisers should be required to show all the desirable and less than desirable product cables, adapters, and attachments.

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All Product Images

Below are all the product images offered by the manufacturer. None show the power cable side of the drive. Every other conceivable view of the product is available.

Misleading Product Labeling of Natural Foods

A common practice among food producers is to overemphasise the ‘natural’ wholesomeness of products.

This article offers two examples out of many, and is not intended to be singling out a specific product, but instead identifying an overall trend of misleading advertising.

Vegetable Chips

As you can see from the packaging below, the Baked Vegetable Crisps by Good Natured Selects, are stated to have half a serving of vegetables in a single ounce. The ingredients featured predominantly on the packaging are spinach, carrots, and red pepper.

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Elsewhere on the product packaging, you’ll see selected contents listed (spinach, carrots, and red bell peppers).

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If you go to the product page on the company’s official website, you won’t see a list of ingredients.

The ingredients are only listed on the product packaging itself in the nutrition panel as shown below.

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As you can see from the list of ingredients above, the chips have more sugar in them than carrots, red peppers, spinach. In fact, there’s more maltodextrin than spinach. The exclusive emphasis on the vegetable contents is misleading considering that these are added in such a small quantities.

For this product, the sugar content is surprising, yet not extremely high at 3 grams per bag (about 10% of the product is sugar). So, what we learn is that the veggie ingredients are less than 10%, and judging from the list, spinach is likely in the single digits.

An example of honest advertising would be Terra Chips brand veggie chips. They are vegetable chips that don’t just contain vegetables, they actually are vegetables.

12-Grain Bread

Brownberry 12-Grain Bread is another example of a product that overemphasizes certain desirable ingredients, in this case various grains. A consumer wanting to eat significant amounts of diverse grains, might buy the bread for this reason.

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However, a quick look at the ingredients shows the following:

WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, UNBLEACHED ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR [FLOUR, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, REDUCED IRON, NIACIN, THIAMIN MONONITRATE (VITAMIN B1), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), FOLIC ACID], WATER, SUGAR, SUNFLOWER SEEDS, WHEAT GLUTEN, WHEAT, RYE, CELLULOSE FIBER, OATS, YEAST, SOYBEAN OIL, GROUND CORN, SALT, MOLASSES, BUCKWHEAT, BROWN RICE, CALCIUM PROPIONATE (PRESERVATIVE), MONOGLYCERIDES, TRITICALE, BARLEY, FLAXSEED, MILLET, CALCIUM SULFATE, DATEM, GRAIN VINEGAR, CALCIUM CARBONATE, CITRIC ACID, SOY LECITHIN, NUTS [WALNUTS AND/OR HAZELNUTS (FILBERTS) AND/OR ALMONDS], WHEY, SOY FLOUR, NONFAT MILK

So, in fact, the bread has more iron, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, water, and sugar than the other 10 grains that are advertised on the product.

An example of honest advertising would be the Ezekiel 4:9 multi-grain bread. It’s advertised as a multigrain bread, and these are the ingredients: Organic Sprouted Wheat, Filtered Water, Organic Sprouted Barley, Organic Sprouted Millet, Organic Malted Barley, Organic Sprouted Lentils, Organic Sprouted Soybeans, Organic Sprouted Spelt, Fresh Yeast, Organic Wheat Gluten, Sea Salt.

Republic Wireless and the Motorola Moto X Motomaker

Update: 26 November 2014

This article had previously been titled “Republic Wireless Misleads Consumers About Motorola Moto X Motomaker.” However, on 26 November 2014, Republic Wireless made a public announcement stating that they would soon be supporting the second generation Moto X phone through their own site and through the Motorola MotoMaker page.

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Background

Since the original posting of the article below on September 30, continuing through October and November, we contacted Republic Wireless and Motorola about the concerns expressed below. Representatives at Motorola seemed concerned and stated they would escalate this issue. Absent any official statement from either company, we can’t know what impact we had on bringing this clarification about, but we’re thankful that Republic Wireless is now acknowledging the existence of the Motorola Moto X 2nd generation phone and the MotoMaker program.

* * *

Moto X Moto Maker is NOT Discontinued

If you do a Google search for Republic Wireless Moto Maker, you’ll find over 300,000 results. The top results are for the Republic Wireless page that informs consumers about the Moto Maker program.

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If you visit the  Moto X page on the Republic Wireless website, you’ll see in big print that the phone can be customized, and there’s a bright green button that states, “Design your Moto X Now.” (Click image below to enlarge).

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If you click on that button, you’ll be taken to a page with this statement on their website:

Customizable Moto Maker options for Moto X have ended as of 9/23/14. Normally this page would tell you you’re leaving Republic Wireless to go build your very own Moto X on Moto Maker. But! All the Moto X Moto Maker phones are sold out. No more. Done-zo. All gone. Finito. (source)

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This statement would lead people to believe that the customizable Moto X design is no longer available. That’s just not true, as can be seen on the Motorola Moto Maker web page.

Honesty is the Best Policy

It would be more honest and transparently informative to simply state the following:

“The Motorola MotoMaker program is still alive and well. However, we just don’t currently have that as an option at Republic Wireless. So, if you’re really set on buying a customized Motorola phone, you can still do so, but you must use another wireless provider. We hope to offer these in the future, but can’t promise anything.”

For some people, their device of choice is really the deal breaker/maker and they will choose a carrier accordingly. Many people who chose the iPhone early on when it was first offered, had to switch carriers to AT&T in order to use that device. People switched by the millions. They cared more about the device than they did the service provider.

Republic Wireless needs to do the right thing, and let consumers know that the MotoMaker option is still available, just not with them as a carrier.

Poor Customer Service Experience

If you try to engage in a chat session with customer service at Republic Wireless,  you’ll likely be mistreated. At least that was my experience (see transcript below). In fact, had the customer service person been a little less defensive, this article might not even have been written.

Here’s the customer service chat exchange from today at 1:43 PM inquiring about this issue:

Republic Wireless (Brandon)

Hi, How may I help you?

Customer

On this page, you prominently advertise the Moto X and the ability to customize it: https://republicwire…blicwireless.com/ip/moto-maker

There’s a button that says, “Design Your Moto X Now”

Clicking on the button takes you here:
https://republicwire…cwireless.com/info/moto-maker/

Here’s the statement on that page:

Customizable Moto Maker options for Moto X have ended as of 9/23/14. Normally this page would tell you you’re leaving Republic Wireless to go build your very own Moto X on Moto Maker. But! All the Moto X Moto Maker phones are sold out. No more. Done-zo. All gone. Finito.

Republic Wireless (Brandon)

We recently stopped the Moto Maker option. If you go onto our main page you will see that the link is not there anymore. It ended on Sept 23

Customer

… but Moto Maker wasn’t an option on your site, it was and still is an option on the Motorola site. The statement is a bit misleading.

For those really wanting a customized Motorola phone, it is actually still available.

Telling the truth may result in your losing customers, but it’s the right thing to do.

Republic Wireless (Brandon)

I am telling you the truth. The Moto Maker option through Republic ended on Sept. 23

Customer

What I’m saying is that the statement on your site is a bit misleading, that’s all.

Some people really like the idea of making a custom phone. They will be lead to believe that option isn’t available any more. So, they will just go ahead and get a non-customized phone through Republic Wireless. Then later, they will find out that they could have had that amazing customized phone they really wanted, but they would have had to go with another carrier. This is the point left our on your website.

All I’m saying is that for those customers who forgo the customized phone, believing (from reading on your site that it’s no longer available), those people will feel mislead.

Your statement should read, “You can still customize your own Moto X phone, but if you do, you’ll need to find another carrier. Republic Wireless only offers two designs (black and white) of the Moto X.” It’s really just that simple. Just let people know that there’s another option.

Republic Wireless (Brandon)

Thanks for insight. However, if you click on the link, we are not misleading. We are making it clear that Moto Maker option is not available through Republic as well as giving you the date. Also, we are allowing you to sign up for updates in case the option becomes available with future devices.

Brandon has closed the chat.

Rude Customer Service Person

While I was typing a reply, the chat was abruptly ended by the customer service representative (Brandon). This is the equivalent of hanging up the phone on someone.

Republic Wireless Website

The image below is a snapshot from the Moto Maker page on the Republic Wireless website from 30 September 2014 at 2:00 PM CT. They are leaving their Moto Maker landing page live, presumably to bring in search traffic, then misleading people into believing the Moto Maker is discontinued. Click the image for a larger view.

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Republic Wireless Statement

After Tweeting about this issue, using the @republicwireless tag, there was an immediate response from the company via a direct Twitter message stating the following:

“Not even sure where to start with that one. 1st Gen Moto X phones were sold out on the Moto Maker site. They have since been replaced with 2nd Gen Moto X options available for pre-order through certain carriers. Regardless – Moto X phones on Moto Maker with RW service are currently unavailable. While we may understandably be in one of the most hated industries known to man we’re a small startup of people trying to disrupt said industry b/c we feel the same pain points with it you do.”

That said, apologies you were left unsatisfied with you chat session. Brandon is one of our favs and we’re glad to talk.

Public Interest

There’s significant interest in this issue as represented by the hundreds of people visiting this page. Recent visits (as of 10 November 2014) are represented on the maps below. Click an image for a larger gallery view.

Misleading Advertising for Seagate External Hard Drive

If you search on Amazon for an external hard drive, among those listed will be the Seagate model shown below, a 2TB drive for $80. That would be a great price, except for one missing detail.

Notice in this presentation of the product, it’s shown with a portable computer and no power cord is being used for either device. That’s actually quite common for smaller external portable hard drives. In fact, a power cord is very undesirable since portable use is often in places where there’s not an available power outlet. The product photos provided on Amazon for this drive show every conceivable angle, except the view that would show you the USB and power cord jacks.

In reality, this Seagate hard drive requires a power cord to operate. So, in this regard, the presentation below is misleading or false advertising (by implication). This explains the lower price. The only indication that the drive requires power is a short comment in the features stating, “Power supply and USB 3.0 cable included.” It doesn’t even indicate that it’s a required power supply.

Truly portable external drives that operate on USB power only will be more expensive. For example, Western Digital has a 2TB drive for $114 on sale that is truly portable.

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Network Solutions Hosting Uptime Reliability Guarantee Misleading

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Network Solutions advertises a 99.99% Uptime Guarantee. A consumer reading that guarantee will assume that it is a guarantee about their own personal website uptime. However, that uptime statistic is based on an average for thousands of accounts. The individual customer experience can vary widely.

It’s like giving a nation-wide weather report based on the aggregated weather data for hundreds of cities. “Sunny and 70 degrees” may be the average for many areas, but if you’re in the city that is 45 degrees and raining you don’t really care about everyone else’s weather.

If you are among a few dozen sites on a particular server that is down, and it takes hours for the outage to be resolved, then you won’t really care that thousands of other people are experiencing 99.99% uptime.

Here’s the fine print of the Network Solutions Uptime Guarantee:

99.99% Uptime is only for UNIX® customers. The uptime for Windows users is 99.9%. Each uptime calculation is measured by the uptime for the entire customer base across all hosting systems for Network Solutions. Scheduled maintenance to Network Solutions systems is excluded from the calculation of the uptime for UNIX and Windows users as well as events causing downtime that are outside of the control of Network Solutions® or are caused by third parties.

Premium Hosting for Windows limits concurrent connections to 100, which may result outages for customers with higher website traffic.

Network Solutions Price Match Guarantee Misleading

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Network Solutions has recently announced a misleading Price Match Guarantee on their Web Hosting Services page.

In large bold print, the guarantee states, “THE BEST PRICE IN THE MARKET, GUARANTEED.”

Here’s the fine print written in a tiny light gray font at the bottom of the page:

For the Network Solutions Hosting Price Match Guarantee, any such price must be a non-introductory, non-promotional price, which is in writing and available to the general public, for a materially comparable hosting solution and must be redeemed within two (2) weeks of initial purchase of the Network Solution Hosting services by customer.

The Price Match Guarantee only applies to ongoing monthly (or other similar billing period) fees equal to or greater than $10.00 per month, is only applicable to one (1) hosting package per customer and will be honored by Network Solutions for a minimum of six (6) months from the initial purchase date, after which Network Solutions may change the pricing at its discretion to the then-current rates. Other terms and conditions may apply.

Translation?

They are guaranteeing that they will only only be the lowest price for six months, and that is limited to only one hosting service per user. Then they can charge you whatever they like.

So, basically they are guaranteeing you that they aren’t going to be the best price in the market.

What’s not disclosed in their advertising is that they charge over $35 per year for domain registration and more than $15 per year for forwarding. So, even if you end up hosting somewhere else, they will get $50 per year from you.

Update

Since this was posted two days ago, we received a comment/response from Network Solutions (on 5 March 2014):

Dear Consumer Defense Resource Group,

Thank you for your feedback. It’s not our goal to be misleading in any way, rather to put terms on price matching to ensure we are matching a similar offer for similar services. These terms are for the benefit of the consumer more than anything else. If you would like more information on whether another offer would qualify for a price match, please contact our Hosting Support Team at 1-866-391-4357.

Sincerely,
The Executive Support Team