Have you ever been charged for a credit card service you didn’t opt for?

Being an MBA student with a specialization in Marketing and the experience of having worked in a bank, I have never been as excited to write about any blog as this!

Why, you will know!

The basic role of a marketer is to convert the desires of consumers to have their products or services into their essential needs. Simply put, a marketer will make sure to create a need for his products or services in the lives of his potential customers, which they otherwise may or may not need at all. Tricky, isn’t it?

You can say Marketing thus is the game all about developing and changing the perception of a customer and the pivotal role to change customer’s perception towards any brand and the products and services they offer is played by Advertising! Yes, you heard it right.

Advertising impacts customers’ subconscious, and a constant exposure to advertisements over an array of media like digital platforms, newspapers, social media, television, and more seems to escalate the impact to new heights. But if looked deeply into, are we as a customer always exposed to genuine advertisements?

The answer is a big bold NO!

Going as basic as one can, the purpose of an advertisement for a brand is to communicate the features of the products and services. How a brand stands out in communicating those features is the real game-changer. Unfortunately, many brands sell false features and promises about their products and services in their advertisements, and when they do that, it’s called Fake or False Advertising. In one of its research reports Gartner published that by 2020, the dreadful year we all are surviving somehow, almost every person living in mature economies will consume more false information than the true, as the surge of relying for such information will be mainly social media platforms. With the rise of social media platforms, every brand has escalated its digital advertising budgets too. In the race of having digital presence and to make sure every click on their advertisements will generate business, brands often adhere to deceptive practices like False Advertising. Almost every business sector of the world is marred with many deceptive advertising practices, even Banking.

According to the Federal Competition Act prevailing in Canada, that prohibits false or misleading representations and deceptive marketing practices under both criminal and civil provisions, which are commonly referred to as Misleading Advertising provisions of the Act.

Deceptive Marketing of products to charge for services Banks don’t offer!

 It often happens in the banking sector that customers have to pay for services they are not even offered. Those costs are always covered under tags like “Hidden Costs”, “Terms & Conditions Apply”, and so on. But as a customer, it is our right to know the break-up of costs, if not entirely but at least to an extent that a customer can be satisfied to know he is not being cheated upon.  

Deceptive advertising practices like Bait-and-Switch is carried out to trap customers in buying high-end products and services. Bait-and-Switch is one of the major misleading practices many bankers do to up-sell their high-end services like credit cards, loans, etc. Up-selling is okay, but how a sales representative at a bank up-sells is a whole different matter.

Following bait-and-switch as a deceptive practice to up-sell, bankers start the interactive transaction with their customers with an intention to mislead. They may either make a wrong representation of features or may omit critical information of service. They may further go ahead to make fake claims about costs and returns. Once the customer seems to fall for this bait, the banker then makes his next move that such products and services are unavailable and hence the customer must go for an even better one. The entire process of making a purchase is thus misled by a banker in this scenario, which thereby also falls under deceptive marketing practices.

How can customers win over banks indulged in False Marketing practices?

Bank may seek short-term gains by indulging in False Advertising, but as stated above, they face its burnt in the long run as well. To say the least, banks are subjected to pay penalties for running misleading advertisements and any other deceptive practices.

The penalties for breaching the criminal or civil misleading advertising provisions are severe like paying a huge fine or penalty and even imprisonment for up to 14 years.

A customer should thus read all the terms and conditions before investing or buying any bank’s product or services. He must know the cost break-up, especially the hidden costs attached to banking services.

If you have ever had a problem with a bank or other business, tell your friends, family, colleagues. A bad word-of-mouth can tarnish brand image and lose customers. That’s the ultimate power of a customer to put to task those in power. When customers are well aware about their rights and legal favors available to them, so they can ensure no bank can ever con them in the name of False Advertising!