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January 21, 2019

Chevy Pulls Misleading “More Reliable” Commercials

Filed under: Autos,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:01 am

In a surprise move late last week, General Motors abruptly pulled its national television advertising campaign in which it claimed that “Chevy is more reliable than Toyota, Honda, and Ford” and 23 other car brands.



Hidden in the fine print was a disclaimer that said their reliability claims were based on data for 2015 vehicles. The problem was that Chevy was advertising their redesigned 2019 cars and trying to convince viewers that current models were equally superior in reliability based on four-year-old data.

We did a national press release on January 10th calling on the company to yank their misleading ad campaign. Of course, up against a big powerful consumer organization like Consumer World, a company like General Motors didn’t have much choice. So it pulled the national ad. Or maybe, just maybe, it might have been the threat from Toyota’s lawyer that tipped the scales.

Not surprisingly, in a bit of all-too-common corporate posturing, Chevrolet denied any wrongdoing. In a statement to Consumer World, their spokesperson said:

“Chevrolet stands by the reliability claim and the ad remains in the brand’s toolbox but we have decided to take it out of the regular rotation at this time to launch new Silverado creative. We have not altered our marketing campaign because of any concerns with the accuracy of our ad content.”

NOTE: The regional version of the ads (they have a financial incentive at the end) will take longer for GM to stop.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing for once for a company to take responsibility for trying to mislead customers?




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January 10, 2019

Is Chevy More Reliable Than Toyota, Honda, Ford, and 23 Other Brands???

Filed under: Autos,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:58 am

When you think of car brands that are the most reliable, you would probably name Lexus, Toyota, perhaps Honda, and a few others. But a new commercial from Chevrolet says you better think again. It claims that Chevrolet is more reliable than Toyota, Honda, Ford, and 23 other brands.



The commercial shows real owners of other car brands being surprised when the spokesperson reveals that “Based on a recent survey, Chevy is more reliable than Toyota, Honda, and Ford.” At the end of the ad, four 2019 Chevrolet vehicles are unveiled and the claim is repeated and expanded to include 23 other car brands.

In case you missed it, there was a little fine print disclaimer on the screen for about three seconds.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Chevy disclaimer

This informs the viewer of something very important. They are relying on the results of a study of 2015 cars to make a broad claim about Chevy’s reliability today. Really?

The 2018 study indicates that close to 50,000 car owners returned surveys indicating whether their 2015 vehicle needed repairs in the prior 12 months. In essence, this is getting feedback on repairs needed in the third year of ownership.

To check how legitimate Chevy’s reliability claim is, we reviewed the dependability studies of two prominent and well-respected sources — J.D. Power and Associates and Consumer Reports.

J.D. Power questioned about 37,000 owners of 2015 vehicles in late 2017 for their 2018 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study. Here are their results:

JD Power vehicle dependability study

This study is most like the one done by Chevy because it focuses on 2015 vehicles and asks about problems that needed fixing in the third year of ownership. It supports Chevy’s overall conclusions about the reliability of their 2015 cars compared to the competition.

Consumer Reports, however, does its reliability studies differently, aggregating survey data from about half a million of their readers for 2000 to 2018 vehicles combined. It asks about problems that car owners have experienced in the past 12 months, as well as other issues. This is a much larger universe and provides a broader prospective on predicted reliability using a span of model years, not just one.

Consumer Reports Reliability Rank
(2000-2018 Vehicles)

Consumer Reports Reliability Rank

The magazine paints an entirely different picture of Chevy reliability, ranking it in the bottom quarter of car brands, and below the brands it said it beat in the commercial.

It seems to us that Chevy is inappropriately using its good reliability ratings for the 2015 model year to imply that its current 2019 vehicles are equally dependable.

We asked General Motors to justify that leap, explain the details of its survey, and whether it will modify or pull the advertisement. The company explained the methodology, that it used standard survey techniques by a noted market research company, that the results were reviewed by independent statisticians, and that their definitions of reliability came from professional organizations.

The Chevy spokesperson did not respond to our question asking if it had any survey results for 2016, 2017, 2018, or 2019 vehicles that would confirm that it continued to beat Toyota, Honda, Ford and 23 other companies for those model years too. But the company attempted to justify why it was using the reliability of 2015 cars with this explanation:

“You need some time to develop a measure of actual reliability so you have to look back at previous MY [model year] vehicles.” — Chevy spokesperson

While it is certainly true that car companies can’t instantly provide reliability data for vehicles new to the market, they can be careful not to make broad, unqualified claims for new models using historic data. And clearly explaining the nature of that historic data rather than burying it in a fine print disclosure would go a long way toward creating transparency. As such, we call upon General Motors to pull its current series of misleading commercials.

Thanks to David B. for bringing this commercial to our attention.

Note: An update to this story will be posted on Monday morning.




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December 17, 2018

An Unexpected Opt-In Trick

Filed under: Autos — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:59 am

Earlier this year we told you about a devious set of terms and conditions used by Kohl’s which declared that by merely walking through the doors of any of their stores you were giving up the right to sue them. See original story.

Now comes an email from AAA (American Automobile Association) entitled “Welcome to Your AAA Network!” It goes on to say how special I am:

“You’ve been chosen out of nearly 6 million AAA members to enjoy access to this improved version of Your AAA.”

I can’t contain my excitement.

“Thank you for joining the Your AAA Network and being a part of our digital future!”

Join? I didn’t join anything.

Then comes the clincher:

*MOUSE PRINT:

“By opening this email, you are automatically enrolled and you will no longer receive the printed version of our member publication.”

Oh, so by my mere action of opening the email, I have agreed to no longer receiving AAA’s monthly print publication?

Of course, it would have been wishful consumer thinking that the subject line should have said: “Warning. Opening this email will end your magazine subscription.”

To give AAA some credit, they do allow you to opt back in to the printed version by sending an email to the editor. I won’t choose that option since their lovely little newspaper went directly into the trash anyway each month. It is just kind of presumptuous to use language suggesting that my actions in reading the email caused my print subscription to be discontinued.

At least they will be saving some trees now.




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November 5, 2018

Official Looking Mailings Continue

Filed under: Autos — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:51 am

This tried and true gimmick is as old as the U.S. mail probably. Send advertising in an envelope masquerading as official mail from a government agency and recipients are more likely to open it. We’ve seen debt collectors and even political candidates utilize this sleazy scheme.

Now comes this official-looking notice about your car:

notification envelope

It comes from the “Vehicle Notification Department” in a window envelope that says it is “personal and confidential.” While many people may presume this to be junk mail, some may believe this from the state department of motor vehicles or perhaps is a recall notice from the manufacturer.

Inside, the truth is revealed.

*MOUSE PRINT:

notification letter

Scroll down the letter.

The letter inside looks pretty official and suggests that I have failed to renew my auto service contract or warranty and thus I could lose coverage. Considering that MrConsumer drives a 1996 Honda Accord, it has been decades since that all lapsed, this letter is nothing more than a bull feathers sales pitch.

Only in the smallest print on the page does it state “This is an advertisement to obtain coverage.”

Some people may have had a bit of a fright when seeing the envelope and immediately opened it … just to be fooled.




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May 7, 2018

Congratulations, You’ve Won (NOTHING) at Car Dealer

Filed under: Autos,Sweepstakes — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:07 am

Have you ever noticed the way some car dealers advertise to get you into the showroom? They often promote a variety of sweepstakes with terrific prizes.

One such car dealer in North Carolina recently ran a “$25,000 Monte Carlo Game.” They sent out lottery-like tickets inviting recipients to scratch off the boxes and if they got a match, they would win between $100 and $25,000.

Buick Scratch Off

A consumer who got the mailing scratched off the various boxes as shown above, and the second row matched with three 7’s on both sides. It looked like he won $5,000, so he called the dealer and was told to come right down to the showroom. When he got there, there were a whole lot of other people huddled around a prize table that had been set up. The consumer was then told that he had to check the confirmation code on the board to see if it matched, and of course, it did not. He was then given the bad news that he did not win the $5,000. And they pointed to a small asterisked disclosure that said as much:

*MOUSE PRINT:

asterisk

Our consumer rightly felt that he had been scammed and complained to the state Attoney General and the consumer reporter at the local TV station. WRAL ran a story about the promotion. They spoke to a lawyer representing the car dealer who asserted that the mailing was not misleading, but could have been misunderstood by recipients.

Right now, the North Carolina Attorney General is investigating seven dealerships in the area who are promising everything from cash to new cars.




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