Consumer Reports examines advertising claims

Nissan got in trouble recently with an ad showing a pickup truck pushing a dune buggy up a steep hill. problem is, it's something the truck actually can't do. The Federal Trade Commission called the ad 'deceptive.' Consumer Reports' Anthony Giorgianni says it happens more often than you'd expect.

"Deceptive advertising generally violates the law, but regulators can't monitor everything," said Giorgianni.

So it's up to shoppers to read the fine print. Especially, Consumer Reports cautions, when they see certain advertising terms like "satisfaction guaranteed." The Federal Trade Commission says companies should only say that if they're willing to provide full refunds to unhappy customers, or they state the limitations.

The website GlassesUSA advertises a satisfaction guarantee, but if you return some items and want your money back, it will cost you a 20 percent re-stocking fee. And Michelin's 30-day satisfaction guarantee means you can return the tires you bought, but for a new set of tires, not a refund. What about a "going out of business" sale? Don't assume everything's a deal.

"You can often find things cheaper at stores that are not going out of business," said Giorgianni.

And be very wary of "free," it can be a powerful come-on. But often you have to buy something to get something else free. So be a skeptic or be ready to pay a high price for a bargain.

We contacted Nissan and a spokesperson said that the ad was intended to portray a fantasy scenario. The company released this statement: "Nissan takes its commitment to fair and truthful advertising seriously. The company has been and remains committed to complying with the law."

Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.

(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2010. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

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