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October 18, 2010

Don’t Let the Juxtaposition of Deals Fool You – Part 1

Filed under: Internet — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:06 am

Some advertisers make you think you are getting a better deal than you really are by clever (or unfortunate) juxtaposition of the price with a statement of benefits.

Example 1: Clear Internet Service

A flyer in the paper recently promoted “4x faster internet” for as little as $35 a month:

This deal certainly is designed to attract attention by seemingly combining a fast speed with a low price. Immediately, MrConsumer wondered “4x faster than what” because the tiny dagger after the claim was not explained on the front of the flyer.

The back explained the comparison:

So the Internet they are selling for $35 is 4G Internet, which they say is four times faster than 3G. Let’s put aside for the moment what speed they are actually selling, which is not disclosed anywhere in the flyer.

When visiting the Clear website using the link provided in the advertisement, and you click on the $35 logo found there, you are taken to a page only showing a $45 offer! Clicking an inconspicuous tab labeled “Base Home” reveals the real $35 offer.


The download speed is stated as “up to 1.5 Mbps” — which is more in the range of what 3G speeds are, not four times 3G, and certainly not full 4G speed. A 13-city study of carriers’ 3G speeds by PC World published earlier this year showed that AT&T averaged 1.4Mbps, while Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile averaged 800-900Kpbs (1000Kbps = 1Mbps).

So how can Clear advertise “4x faster Internet” for $35? The juxtaposition of the $35 price on the flyer above likely has nothing to do with the “4x faster” claim. Their $35 service, which the company says is 4G, really appears to be 4G ramped down to 3G-like speeds. My guess is that the four times faster claim actually refers to their more expensive $45 service, which does in fact appear to be full 4G speed.

But what reasonable consumer would understand there is no connection between the “4x faster” claim and the adjacent $35 price?

To add insult to injury, when visiting the Clear the website to find out exactly what speed they are selling on their 4G network, claimed to be four times faster, you find this for their $45 service:


What? Unlimited download speed? The sky is the limit? Of course not.


Buried in the FAQ: “CLEAR supports average download speeds up to 3-6 Mbps and upload speeds up to 1Mbps.”

Mouse Print* asked the company why they don’t advertise (in the print ad) the actual speed they are selling to avoid confusion, why they juxtapose the four times faster claim right next to the $35 price, and whether now that the potentially misleading nature of the ad was pointed out to them, would they consider modifying it.

A spokesperson for the company from their PR agency said, in part:

ON SPEED: “The speeds are detailed on our website, and the information is readily available. Many consumers may not understand technical terms pertaining to Mbps, so many of our ads in print, radio, and TV tend to put the language in simpler terms.”

ON JUXTAPOSITION: “The ad simply indicates that home plans start at $35, which is accurate. We use the term 4X faster as a general comparison to 3G wireless plans offered by conventional cellular carriers.”

ON CLARIFLYING THE AD: “I’ll look into this, but I do not believe that we have plans to change the ads at this time. “

Additional follow-up questions posed to the company related to the fact that their 4G $35 plan really was offering speeds only in the 3G range went unresponded to.

For a company with the name “Clear”, they certainly have chosen to make their advertising anything but.

Stay tuned for another example of “Don’t Let the Juxtaposition of Deals Fool You”.

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  1. Confusing, but it’s clear, these guys are clowns

    Comment by Dave — October 18, 2010 @ 7:49 am
  2. It’s almost funny except that some people are probably taken in by this nonsense.

    Comment by mitaliano — October 18, 2010 @ 8:49 am
  3. Two key phrases appear in the ad. The first is “plans as low as” and the second is “speeds up to”. Both are indeterminate phrases which tell you absolutely nothing. You can be sure that what they are promoting will be more than $35/month and the internet speed will be less than 1.0 mbps. I don’t bother with promotions when I see such phrasing.

    Comment by John — October 18, 2010 @ 11:08 pm
  4. Do we even want to get into the fact that she explained that the details for the purchase of an INTERNET subscription can be found on the INTERNET… I know that a large portion of the United States has internet access, but does that mean that the ones who don’t should be excluded? Or should have to take their time to go to the library just to get clarity on an ad in the paper?

    Comment by Joel — October 20, 2010 @ 11:25 am

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