Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Deceptive typography ON SALE SALE SALE!!!

I got suckered again. This makes me feel stupid every time it happens. Oh, I complain to the store manager (politely, because she has no control over the chain’s marketing strategy), but really I’m as angry at myself for falling for this ploy yet again as I am at the company for manipulating consumers this way.

What am I ranting about? This is what I’m ranting about.

I’m walking through the store shopping for clothes, something I enjoy about as much as I enjoy being mugged (this is the only chain that still carries clothes in my size, so I can’t really go elsewhere), and I’m focusing on the clothes on the racks, trying to find something I might actually wear. I’m here to buy clothes, not to read signs. So I just skim. And when I see “50% Off” or “SALE 29.99” in gigantic type at eye level, I think, okay, maybe I’ll go for the more expensive brand. I pick something out. I go to the checkout counter. And the clerk rings the item up at full price. I say, “What about the sale price on the sign over there?” and she says, “You only got one. The sale price is for the second item.” Okay, I go back and rummage around, but either they don’t have a second one in my size and color, in which case I pay full price for the one I picked out in the first place, or they do have another one and I end up spending more than I planned to. But at this point I’ve invested the time in going to the store and if I don’t buy something today I’m going to have to come back that much sooner. Which I hate. Did I mention that I hate shopping for clothes?

This is wrong! The same company has been designing their window posters and rack cards this way for many years, even though they’ve recently rebranded the store exteriors with new colors and a new name. You big guys know who I’m talking about—at least those of you in the US. If they were in the grocery business and used this kind of size disparity on package labels, they would be afoul of the Code of Federal Regulations and their products would be pulled from store shelves.

This is an intentional strategy designed to fleece customers. The designers responsible for this work know full well that a distracted shopper is not primarily focused on studying the fine print of sale terms when he’s trying to find something that fits and looks more or less presentable (the best that can be hoped for in this store); trying to remember to check the fabric content, care instructions, and workmanship; and trying to get out of the store as quickly as possible.

Oh, I’m sure the company’s lawyers have assured them that as long as all the words are there, they can’t be sued for false and misleading advertising. But that’s only because we don’t have the same kind of regulations in place for point-of-sale advertising that we do for food labeling. The people in charge of marketing for the company should be ashamed of themselves anyway.

Design matters.


Susan Johnston Taylor said...

You're right, that is wildly deceitful. I adore shopping, but I'm still outraged!

Anonymous said...

This isn't on target of your rant but mine drives me nuts. Does the United States make anything anymore? As citizens, we should have the right to buy US made products. If the stores would make US made products visable by pointing up this fact, we could support jobs of our own hard working people. Drives me nuts. I would love to see a clothing store that sells only US made clothing.
Fay Ratcliff