The vast majority of direct marketers want happy customers who buy again and again, and yield what's known as high lifetime value.
Then there's that other type.
Look at this landing page from IQ Derma, with one of the wiliest before and afters you'll ever see. You may find yourself saying "No effen way" and wondering how they're able to depict such an impossible transformation without incurring the wrath of some governing body.
I'll tell you how. Take another peek at the photo and zoom in on the right-hand side where it says, "simulated imagery" in vertical type. They're actually saying it's bullshit!
But wait, there's more. Click the "CLICK HERE" button and fill in the required fields to reach the payment page. Notice the "FREE TRIAL" for as low as $3.95 with standard shipping. Great deal, don't ya think?
Before you click "Place Order," read the oh-so-fine print in 7 1/2 point type. Basically, if you don't return the product within 30 days, you pay the "discounted price" of $95.70 -- and because this is a negative option offer, they'll automatically ship you nearly a hundred bucks worth of miracle cream every 60 days until you say "STOP."
You may be wondering why IQ Cosmetics placed such critical terms near the bottom in tiny type. I'll take a stab at it: They were hoping you'd miss it. And apparently more than a few people did.
The Better Business Bureau said, "On September 24, 2007 we wrote to this company requesting they make modifications to their websites and pop-up ads to clearly and conspicuously disclose the terms and conditions of their free trial." You tell me if the owners, Intelligent Beauty, adequately addressed the problems.
To date, the BBB has received 42 complaints relating to Intelligent Beauty. In almost 100% of cases, they agreed to make a full refund or "perform according to their contract." But if a small fraction of buyers complained to the BBB, that's a lot of dissatisfied consumers.
Question for my direct marketing colleagues: Do you think this approach is misleading?