6 advertising traps that are easy to fall for

Buy one get one free: Sounds like a good deal, but is it?

There are ads out there that promise so much. It can leave you wondering what the catch is.

It makes you wonder, what's the catch?

So we looked into some common store ads you see every day, to give you six potential traps that could cost you money, according to Consumer Reports magazine and marketing professors.

Ad Trap #1

Patricia Coyl is a frustrated Ohio woman who pointed out our first ad trap: "Lifetime Warranty."

"Obviously, there's something wrong with this window. It’s leaking," said Coyl who led us to a couple of bedroom windows in her home. The trap is not the problems with the windows, but the so-called lifetime warranty behind the windows.

Coyl and her husband bought the windows several years ago with an “Exclusive 5 Star Warranty.”

Business experts said you need to really know the details. "Ask the simple question, whose lifetime? Is it the product's lifetime? Is it my lifetime?" said business professor Dr. Elad Granot.

Coyl said her window company is out of business now, and so is the manufacturer. Because of that, her lifetime warranty is now worthless.

Ad Trap #2

The second trap: Going Out of Business Sales.

Joe Daugirdas is "Joe The Coupon Guy" who has a shopping blog. He prides himself on saving money. He was at one of these sales once and noticed something strange.

“I peel back the stickers and I see they actually had a lower price before they over-stickered the new price on it,” said Daugirdas.

He went on to tell us sometimes liquidators will come in, raise the prices, and then claim there's a big percentage off. Be careful.

Ad Trap #3

"Buy One Get One"

You've seen "Buy one get, one free, or even buy one, get two free."

While these can be legitimate, some shoppers said they get what's going on in some cases. "They just mark up the price or they get you somehow,” said shopper Nikki Sizler from Strongsville. “

Ad Trap #4

Ads saying "We Will Not Be Undersold."

Stores promise price matching but many times it's not for everything like matching online deals. Plus, there are times the matching has to be the same exact model number.

Daugirdas told us maybe one store has a TV model 123-A which is the same set as one sold at a different store but that number is 123-B.

"And when you go to price match it, they say ‘Oh, we can't price match it. It's a different model’ even though physically it's the same item,” warned Daugirdas.

Ad Trap #5

Business experts say watch out for: "Satisfaction guaranteed."

Dr. Granot said always check the fine print because you might not get money back, but maybe a store credit or something else.

"Unless they specifically say, we'll take back everything for any reason at any time, assume that they don't,” Dr. Granot said.

Ad Trap #6

Finally, beware "Free Bonus" items.  Often you end up paying for it somewhere else, and often it's something you don't even want.

Not all of these ads are specifically out to get you, and some of them are legitimate.

But our 9 On Your Side advice is to know the exact terms surrounding any of them.

For people like Coyl, they've become a bit jaded to some of the advertising out there. "Don't always believe it," she said.

By avoiding them, you don't waste your money.


Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.

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