Misleading marketing

Posted on April 3, 2019


misleading marketing

I should know better; if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Last week, I was perusing Facebook and an ad popped up in my feed. Now normally I ignore ads, but this one caught my eye. It was for free bootcamp sessions at a gym near me. (On a side note, talk about targeted marketing. No surprises here since I am connected to a lot of well-known fitness instructors.)

Before I clicked the link, I did my due diligence and checked out the place. It looked legitimate and it got some pretty good reviews on Google and Yelp. So I went ahead and clicked on the link to sign up. The first step was to schedule a half hour consultation at the gym. Okay, that sounds reasonable. I could schedule the date online. Soon after, I received a text message from the owner, confirming my appointment and asking me if I had any questions. Still good.

I was getting excited about this since doing a boot camp is on my bucket list. On another side note, when I start talking about this with my dear Mr. Ken, his eyes glaze over and all he says is “You’re crazy. Who would willing pay and get up early to do lots of exercise and get yelled at?” Mmm, I guess he won’t be joining me for boot camp anytime soon.

I go to my consultation and meet with a nice, energetic young woman. She explains about the program and adds that she lost 25 pounds doing it. I’m getting more interested by the minute. That is until she says, “Oh and you should be aware we charge a “security deposit” up front, so we know you’ll be committed. This is $500. We will refund it to you if you successfully complete the program.” What????? I understand trying to make people accountable, but $500? How do I know I will get that money back? She also mentioned that their goal is not only get people interested in boot camp, but to get people to join their gym.

Come to think of it, some of the reviews on Yelp stated that this place gave people a really hard sell at the end of a trial period. So, I can see not getting my money back.

So, I graciously declined to participate. Thinking back on all this, not telling people up front in the ad that there is a security deposit required is sneaky. That left a very bad taste in my mouth. I might have been able to overlook that if the “security deposit” that is really a “fee” was something like $200.

I am firm believer in total transparency in business and in life. People are not stupid, I wonder how many people will actually take advantage of this offer, not many would be my guess.

So what about you? Have you fallen “victim” to misleading marketing?