I recently received a flier in the mail from a department store whose goal it was to alert me to their latest sale offer. Their big news was that I could get 10 dollars off my sale or clearance purchases of at least 25 dollars.
In large, red letters, the ad proudly proclaimed NO EXCLUSIONS ON APPAREL! (Yes, that exclamation point was theirs, not mine.) Wow! No exclusions on apparel. I decided to take a look. That’s when it became apparent that their marketing staff was trying to use language as a way to be a little less than forthright.
Under the NO EXCLUSIONS! promise was smaller red print that read (except specials and super buys). On another part of the ad, it read TUESDAY OR WEDNESDAY ‘TIL 1 P.M. Tucked away on the bottom of the ad, I was informed that I couldn’t get the 10 dollars off on any morning specials.
So, I thought, let me get this straight: I need to spend at least 25 dollars—-on either Tuesday or Wednesday——–until 1 o’clock——but if it’s a special, a morning special, or a super buy, then I can forget the whole thing.
I opened the catalogue to get a closer look at my potential choices only to find an item of apparel that was neither a special nor a super buy but was, indeed, on sale on both Tuesday and Wednesday. It read underneath CANNOT USE 10-DOLLAR COUPON.
The moral of the story: If you’re going to say NO EXCLUSIONS ON APPAREL!, then that’s what it should be; otherwise, saying NO EXCLUSIONS is, quite frankly, a lie. This is a wonderful example of using language to mislead rather than to communicate honestly.