Deceptive marketing tactics, revisited

A few days ago I asked my readers to comment on the online marketing practices of a number of related firearms and ammunition vendors.  The discussion became quite interesting, both in Comments and in offline e-mails.

Readers’ reactions seem clearly split along age-related lines.  Those who are older, and were probably brought up with ethical and moral guidelines similar to those I learned at my parents’ knees, seem to either side with my position, or at least be willing to consider it.  Those who are younger, and who grew up in an age of “If it feels good, do it!”, are less worried by and more supportive of the business practices of the companies under discussion.

For myself, I think a comment by Murphy’s Law encapsulates my concerns admirably:

If a seller is less than honest about one thing, what else are they less than honest about?


Go read the original post and its comment thread, and see what you think.



  1. Remember the TARGON commercial on TV? The actress would ask you to SMELL her breath? Yeah, she would “HUFF” and say she just smoked a cigarette, brushed her teeth and then brag that you couldn't smell tobacco on her breath all because of the powers of TARGON!
    Soooo…given that factoid, just how smart do advertisers think we are?

  2. I am always aware of the possibility that the stores I buy from might be less than honest. In fact I think it's more likely than not. This sort of thing is so common that it would be impossible to limit oneself to doing business with only completely honest and open companies. Just the thought of trying to keep up with who's doing what makes me tired. And, by the way, since you brought age into it, I'm 54.

  3. It is still not clear to me what the problem is. There is a company that does on-line marketing under several names. As far as is known, they have not stolen any money, done anything illegal, etc. As one person said, it may be that each company is marketing to a different target group. I don't see the problem. Maybe you need to spell it out using very small words, for me anyway.

  4. @Anonymous at 4.06 pm: Murphy's Law spelt it out in one sentence, as quoted above. I did the same in rather more words by quoting dictionary definitions in the first post.

  5. I agree with anonymous. I don't see the problem. I don't think one exists. To restate, this is much ado about nothing. It then behooves me to ask why you think it is because doing business under several different entities is not unusual. I once worked for a const. co who's owners owned at least two different companies. Maybe more. And so what? No, If all other things are equal then there is no ethical problem here. In fact, you are wrong to imply there might be something unethical and to cloud their name under such a nebulous charge.

  6. "Those who are younger, and who grew up in an age of "If it feels good, do it!", are less worried by and more supportive of the business practices of the companies under discussion."

    Are you sure that's the reason and not the fact that companies have been just plain deceptive during all of the years these people have been alive? They've likely always been around deceptive advertising (unlike someone older), so they view it as normal.

  7. Peter: No, you and Murphy's Law said that you thought that this behaviour is dishonest, but Anonymous there is saying he doesn't grasp why this is dishonest.

    Frankly, I don't get it either. If the website said they were selling S&B #00 Buck in case lots, and was actually shipping something else, that is dishonest.

    But "" vs: "" vs: ""? It's… it's just a website! As long as you're getting the product you paid for, who cares what URL it's sold under?

    I don't even see how it hits the level of "deceptive advertising", for that matter… you google for some kind of ammo, you get a link to a website selling that kind of ammo… The ammo is what they're advertising, and if they deliver what they advertise for the price they advertise it at… this is a brand new definition of "deceptive" of which I was not previously aware.

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