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Bernard Madoff, API, Getty image Photo from API, Getty Images

In the past few years, we’ve heard our share of news stories on dishonest, scum bag, greedy souls. From the Enron gang, to Allen Stanford, to the biggest scammer of all, Bernie Madoff who misled investors and lost over $65 billion. These people are a disgrace to business and mankind.

While these criminal profiles are plastered on every media venue from out there, and they should be, what about companies and brands that behave less than truthfully everyday in their advertising and communications? I think they are just as guilty, and consumers should be aware of their shady moves and then make their choices on what company they should do business with.

I’ve talked about some of these less than forthright brands in my speaking programs and I’ve written about them in the past. We just posted a story I wrote for Fast Company called Integrity, an invaluable brand asset

These companies really get under my skin. In fact, this morning I was reading a half page ad for “The Perfect Pitch” giveaway in Tampa. It is sponsored by Teasdale, marketing of distinction and some other seemingly reputable media companies. The ad says: throw us your perfect pitch and two companies could win $250,000 in media to promote your company and the at applicants get a gift bag valued at $3,000. What it did not tell you was that it costs $500.00 to apply. That information was only found inside the site on the PDF form. To me that’s creepy, and falls under the category of not being honest. Why not put that information on the ad? Wasting my time because of a lack of full disclosure or not clearly marking fees puts no integrity points in their basket. In fact I’ve shared this example at 10 times today with my business buddies.

Contests are notorious for these sneaky ploys. Big brands have dirt on their collars too.

I just received a mailer from Verizon. The offering was $99.00 flat fee for Internet, TV and phone service and they give you $150.00 back. Sounds great, right? So, I call my friendly sales rep to investigate. I wait on hold for 17 minutes, just to find out the boxes you also need for the TVs were not included and neither were the taxes. The drive out price was the same as what I already have. Wasting my time because of a lack of full disclosure or not clearly marking the real price is no better than a friend telling me a big lie. It hurts the relationship.

This list of slimy-talking, deceptive messaging happens every day. And brands wonder why consumer trust is at an all time low. If you know of a company that is resorting to dishonest marketing messages or campaigns, please share, so we can inform our community that the brand in question may too deserve the Bernie Badge of Deception.