I can't even tell you the topic!

What’s the deal with these demented commercials that offer prices so low, they can’t say them on the air? Or “we can’t name these brands”? Why not? Is there a bona fide reason for this? Whatever happened to the free market? I would think if you have a warehouse full of Nike sneakers you want to dump off at $20.99 a pair, you go on the air and say “Hey! We got Nike sneakers at $20.99 a pair!” and FootLocker be damned if they don’t like it. Or is this just a pathetic attempt to pander to my sense of curiousity and make me enter the store to see just how low the prices are?

“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

The manufacturers themselves do not allow their names to be used in association with discount sales; they want you to pay full price, not wait until they go on sale to get your Nikes.

Another version, same story: anybody that pays “list price” for musical instruments is crazy; nearly everything is discounted. Most manufacturers allow stores like The Woodwind and the Brasswind or MARS (two big music ‘superstores’) to list names and prices . . . most all except Yamaha. Those stores can sell Yamaha equipment at discount prices, but they can’t list the discount price.

your humble TubaDiva
How much is that tuba in the window?

The implication these ads offer is “we are doing something illegal, or at least underhanded, and we don’t want the manufacturer to know we are dumping their shit at below market value.” Which, of course, is not true. They want you to think you’re getting the largesse of someone’s wrongdoing, which is a common tactic among conmen (the guy in the van with “extra inventory” at the end of his delivery route who sells you a 27" TV box containing 43 bricks).

This con game begs the old saw “You can’t cheat an honest man.”

TubaDiva, fair enough, but can Nike really refuse to wholesale me shoes because I want to sell them at $25.00 below what FootLocker is selling them for? I mean, as long as Nike gets their $15.27 per pair (or whatever) it’s really not their problem who gets screwed out of sales.

Ok, I can see where Nike might not want their name associated with “big discounts”, but can they do anything about it? “Not allowed to tell you” implies that if they do tell me, there’ll be hell to pay from Nike HQ. Is this the case, or are they just blowing a lot of hot wind?

“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

There are also deals made by the wholesalers and retailers.The retiler wants to sell at the lowest price he can and make a profit so he wants to by at the lowest price.The wholesaler makes his best offer and says tell you what if for some reason i can sell lower to someone else (quantity or what ever) I’ll make a deal with him not to advertise the name,so you won’t lose business. Especially if the retailer is a steady customer.If another retailer can get um cheap enough he’ll agree to not advertise.
Wholesaler will also make contracts that if someone sells at below profit he won’t advertise, that way the other retailers don’t try to get lower costs.Or wholesaler makes a special deal with a good client but says no advertising,I don’t want every body else wanting the same.(Tellya what ahm gonna do. makes the retailer feel special) Then you got second seconds andd rejects. Flaws in a product that the manufacturer doesn’t want his name asociated with. Sells um cheap but no advertising, usually with logos removed or obliterated. Worked for Le uh a jeans manufactorer as an inspector (no.57,hi yall) that was my job.Ever by jeans with just a nub of tag, no back pockets or plain pockets that didn’t quite match? You knew what they were and the store can TELL you but not in print. And Le uh the manu. didn’t want to spoil his image.

I think they just want to get you down to the store so you have to look. Then you might see something you want & buy it.

Course, lots of times they don’t have the stuff at all. Which is illegal.

Once a year at the fairgrounds, some big sale happens with big tv ads, Playstation Games $5, VCR’s $59! I went. To get in you have to fit in this narrow line full of desks with forms on it [almost everyone was filling them out except for me] where you put in personal information about yourself in a chance to win a free whatever [I didn’t want to know]. No doubt they use that info later. Plus, the stuff in the tv ads was NOT there [most of it anyway]. The vcr at $59 was just a player and you cuold buy it in a local store for the same price.

Jophiel asks:

Funny you should ask. This area is of some interest to big manufacturers and consumer groups. The short answer is no, in most cases a manufacturer may not dictate the selling price a retailer chooses to charge to we the humble consumers. I’m not at work or at home today, so I’m not gonna find the case cites, but this is fairly well established in antitrust law…

The fun part is that of course they can do something about it. When Amalgamated Widget (or whoever) gets a seriously hot product, retailers want more units than are available. Amalgamated gets to choose how to allocate product, and quelle surprise when the retailers who play ball get the best allocations. Manufacturers also have bazillions to spend on “co-op advertising,” where the Mfg. shares advertising costs with the retailer. Guess who gets that deal?

The flip side occurs when Amalgamated makes a serious mistake and overproduces. Then they tend to price the product at a “just make them go away” kind of level. Again, the product goes to the retailers who know how the system works. When you go to one of the “We Can’t Tell You” places, you’ll likely find gobs and gobs of product that were made last year, or in the wrong color, or weird sizes, or whatever. Or even worse, “seconds” as mr john points out.

There is a category of retailer that specializes in picking up overruns and seconds and selling them to you. Oftentimes, the retailer will not be an authorized distributor for the manufacturer, in which case they really can’t tell you. But know that you’re not gonna find this year’s hot product there. And if the product is defective, don’t bother calling the maker with a complaint. They sold it to some middleman without warranty.

From the retailer’s point of view, you and Nickrz have it exactly right. They are crassly appealing to your sense of curiosity, which curiosity comes from your hope to get away with something you shouldn’t be.

Then there’s handy’s problem, which also occurs with startling regularity, but at least the manufacturer isn’t complicit.

This is not an offer to agree or disagree with opinions, which may be done only by a current prospectus.

The discount issue is one I’ve been interested in for several years. I used to work at a co-op student store where we discounted everything that we sold. We had several vendors refuse to sell to us because of this practice. I told them at the time that they were violating anti-trust law, but I didn’t have the legal expertise to back up that opinion.

Just to let myself vent, the vendors were:
Guess Sunglasses
Recycled Paper Products

Manhattan - since you seem to understand this stuff, I have a question related to the above that I’ve always wondered about.

Let’s say I by a widget from Amalgamated Widgets, but I buy it through the retailer who bought some surplus stock and is offering huge discounts, or whatever.

Ok, now from MY point of view, I’ve just payed $29.95 for an Amalgamated Widget, and it came in an offical Amalgamated box with a product warantee card that I’ve filled out, and everything.

Now my widget breaks. How much right do I have under the law to have Amalgamated honor the warantee? I mean, I haven’t done anything illegal - I payed for the widget, and presumably the store I bought it from hasn’t either - they also payed for the widget. And at SOME point in the process, AmWid must have sold it to SOMEONE, or I wouldn’t have my hands on it right now. So how can I be punished (by AmWid refusing to honor their warantee) when I haven’t really done anything wrong? How much obligation does AmWid actually have, if any?

peas on earth

Unfortunatly, bantmof, the answer is a big, fat, “it depends.”
In most cases, if the product came with a warranty card which you properly filled out and sent in, Amalgamated will fix your widget. They’re no dummies, and they want you to like their product and recommend it to others.
But your question is far more interesting - do they hafta?
Assuming the product was neither a second nor gray-market (usually sold for export and somehow finding its way back to the States), most states in most cases require that the company step up and do the right thing. But some manufacturers try make warranty service contingent on from whom and how you bought the product. Take automobiles. The warranty generally stops when the original owner sells unless resold through a “factory-authorized” dealer. And if you somehow manage to buy a “new” car from someone other than Bob’s Amalgamated/Consolidated Dealer, you’re pretty much going to have to get the tranny fixed on your own nickel. Many manufacturers of consumer electronics try to do something similar. When you go into a reputable store, you’ll see a display that says they are an “authorized” Amalgamated dealer. Buy from the guy on Canal Street and bring the broken product to the reputable guy, and you’ll find he says to bring it back to where you bought it (he’ll know… he always knows) Send it back to Amalgamated and they may or may not recognize it. Call your state’s consumer protection bureau, and if they care (slow week), they may be able to do something, again depending on the laws in your state.

All this is an overlong way of saying that if you’re buying a complex product where after-sale care (service, warranty, upgrades, etc) are a concern of yours, cough up the extra few bucks and buy it from an authorized retailer. If the product is so cheap that you don’t care or it’s not prone to warranty claims (clothes, consumables and disposables) go ahead and get your price.

BTW, the manufacturer remains on the hook for liability issues almost regardless. If your cheapo widget blows up in your face, Amalgamated is paying as long as you can prove they produced it, sold it in this country and that nowhere during the chain of ownership (wholesaler, odd-jobber, off-price retailer, you) was a condition of use violated. That’s why your car dealer won’t honor the warranty on your used car but they will do the repairs required by a recall. There are exceptions, but there are lots of attorneys on this board and I’ll leave the explanations to them.

This is not an offer to agree or disagree with opinions, which may be done only by a current prospectus.

How do car dealers stay out of jail? They advertise $99 down $99 a month on $20000+ cars. They either flash the fine print on TV so fast it could not possibly be read, they whisper it too fast on the radio so the fine print cannot be heard, or they hide the fine print in their print advertising. Such an offer is down right false advertising, but they get away with it. Anyone know how they are able to do this?

Also, how does a car dealer get away with changing his price according to your trade in or down payment? I had an experience with one dealer who would not tell me what my trade in value was until he did a credit check on me. Is that legal, let alone ethical?

Are there special exceptions to car dealers in truth in advertising laws? Is there any recourse a consumer has to blatant false advertising?

Handy, a few days later, those folks who filled out the forms suddenly found themselves using and owing a long distance carrier they don’t remember signing up for.