Myths about consumer services
Exploitation of consumers
Consumer fraud is a false or misleading representation of a material fact, whether by words or conduct, that causes a consumer to be deceived. More than 800 categories of consumer frauds have been identified to date; some of those causing concern to countries in different parts of the world are fraudulent sales, including deception as to weights and measures and unsafe or substandard products, adulterated food and obsolete or hazardous drugs, real estate swindles, including fictitious land registration schemes, hoarding and preorganizing, especially as related to black-market operations, collusive bidding, unnecessary repairs, usury and credit fraud, pilferage, smuggling and various other schemes involving misrepresentation, concealment, manipulation, breach of trust, subterfuge or illegal circumvention.
Polls show that 18 million people in the UK have bought items because of "green" advertising, packaging or changes made to products by companies anxious to show they are environmentally aware, although it is difficult to sift the genuine claims from the cosmetic. During sales some shops are inventing higher prices for goods, using the loopholes in a code of practice, so they can offer bogus reductions.
To have a fraud you have to have a large distance between the touted grand appearance and the commonplace actuality, a distance perhaps perceivable by the disillusioned customer after buying the item but never before. In ads for Florida real estate, the distance is astronomical, likewise in the ads for plastic surgery, for weight loss programmes and therapy to raise your self-esteem. "Luxury" is the most potent of advertising words. Another is "designer", almost always a warning that the lamb is about to be fleeced.