5 Ad Trends To Be Wary of in 2019
One of the ways TINA.org stays on top of deceptive marketing trends is by monitoring the activities of regulators who share our mission, such as the Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, and, increasingly, the Securities and Exchange Commission.
 
We also keep tabs on decisions by the National Advertising Division, a self-regulatory body that largely serves as a mediator between companies that challenge each other’s advertising claims. And then there are the hundreds of false advertising class-action lawsuits we track every year. Based on what we saw in 2018, here are some of the areas in which consumers need to be wary of bad actors and advertisers need to clean up their act, one way or the other, in 2019:
 
Cryptocurrency
 
 
If you are still looking for a New Year’s resolution, here’s one: Don’t take cryptocurrency investment advice from DJ Khaled. There are at least two reasons why you shouldn’t do this, both of which are detailed in a 2018 SEC action against the hip-hop producer (who was also the subject of a TINA.org investigation last year): No. 1, in the above Instagram post, DJ Khaled neglected to mention that he was paid tens of thousands of dollars to promote the initial coin offering (ICO) as a “Game changer.” No. 2, the SEC alleges that the ICO was fraudulent. Specifically, the SEC claims that Centra Tech raised more than $32 million from thousands of investors through the use of false and deceptive marketing claims. The SEC appears willing to lead the fight against cryptocurrency security scams and we predict that there will be much more to come in the New Year. If you’re wondering, DJ Khaled was forced to pay back the $50,000 he received from Centra Tech, as well as a $100,000 penalty.
 
Homeopathic products
 
 
Marketers of homeopathic products would be wise to hold off regifting any label maker they might have received over the holidays as the office supply may come in useful for 2019. For the first time since the FTC announced in 2016 that it would hold homeopathic drugs to the same scientific standard as other products making similar health claims, the agency took action in 2018. As a result, the maker of a homeopathic spray agreed to add a disclaimer to its label (and other marketing materials) stating: “(1) There is no scientific evidence that [Nerve Pain Away] works and (2) the product’s claims are based only on theories of homeopathy from the 1700s that are not accepted by most modern medical experts.” While the general scientific community roundly rejects homeopathic medicine as pseudoscience, the market for homeopathic products continues to grow. But the appeal of these products may be tested in 2019 if consumers start to see disclaimers like the one above on the labels of their favorite homeopathic remedies.
 
CBD
 
 
When the FDA announced in June of last year that it had approved the “first drug containing cannabidiol” or CBD for epilepsy, it may have unwittingly sent a message to marketers of CBD products that they were free to market their products using unproven health claims, which is simply not the case. Many CBD proponents, including distributors for an MLM company called HempWorx that TINA.org investigated last year, not only improperly claim that CBD treats, cures, and mitigates a plethora of diseases but also that selling cannabis is perfectly legal in the U.S. Yet the Drug Enforcement Agency still classifies all cannabis extracts as Schedule 1 controlled substances, the same category as heroin, despite its legalization in several states. TINA.org has another CBD MLM on its list for 2019. As we are wont to say, check back for updates.
 
Sponsored content (again)
 
 
Sponsored content aka native advertising aka 100 other monikers has been on this list before, in 2016. The reason it’s back is because — surprise — the distinction between sponsored content and editorial content hasn’t gotten any clearer. That line that ostensibly used to separate the two has all but disappeared. But that doesn’t change the fact that consumers should know when what they’re reading is advertising. Not only did a 2018 NAD decision fail to hold BuzzFeed accountable in this regard, it set a dangerous precedent for other publishers in 2019 and beyond to manipulate editorial content for the purposes of avoiding scrutiny of advertising claims. NAD ruled in part that sponsored content isn’t sponsored content if the original intent of the subject matter is to educate readers, even if the end product generates advertising revenue for the publisher. Here’s why we disagreed.
 
MLM health and income claims 
 
 
While we take issue with NAD for its BuzzFeed ruling, we are hopeful that a new program for the multilevel marketing industry staffed by a three-member panel of its umbrella organization, the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council, will provide much-needed surveillance of health and income claims in the MLM industry, particularly on social media. But if the self-regulatory scheme becomes just a way for larger MLMs to bully smaller MLMs, that would be a missed opportunity. Adding to our skepticism is the fact that the program will be funded by the Direct Selling Association, the MLM industry trade group whose member companies repeatedly skirt FTC and FDA law (not to mention the DSA’s own Code of Ethics) through the widespread promotion of inappropriate health and income claims. TINA.org scooped the story at NAD’s annual conference last September. The program launched Jan. 4.
 
Find more of our coverage on advertising trends here.
 
Courtesy: TruthInAdvertising.org 
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Name Changer -- the ‘Game’ in LPG Distribution
One of the best tricks of the trade in the good old days was for the ‘competent authority’ to mis-spell your name.
 
Train ticket, airline ticket, driving licence, scooter booking, radio licence, income tax refund, sales tax certificate, marriage certificate, school leaving certificate, board exam results, marriage certificates, travel documents, property documents, telephone booking receipt, gas cylinder records, legal paperwork ad infinitum.  My name lends itself to variations, Viresh, Veresh, Mallik, Mullick, and so on and so forth. This culminates into been there, done it, smile and part with a few ‘Gandhis’ (read rupee notes) and move on. 
 
One of the more interesting episodes involved a colleague with the surname "Shah". The ticket issued at the airport, despite showing the passport, was issued to "Saha". He did not look at the document carefully enough, and sure enough, in a well-sprung trap, the counter staff inside the airport denied the ‘Shah ban gaya Saha’, a boarding pass. 
 
A few Gandhis later, the matter was resolved, but I took up cudgels after the act, on return, with long letters protesting the case and demanding a refund. It was all the more enjoyable because the person who had caused the chaos in the first case was one "Rai", so all letters from me to the airline referred to him as "King Mr RAT".
 
I am assuming people have read KING RAT. It has a gory ending. Something like this is happening right now.
 
I have had a cooking gas connection in my correct name for decades now. Luckily the original documents from day-zero are with me, through different dealers as they changed, even the gas company changed itself from Burshane to Bharatgas. At one stage, the Aadhaar number was added, with correct spelling and mobile number, because of which I get the subsidy in my bank account and the SMS confirmation therein.
 
However, somehow, without my noticing it, in the bills, the spelling of my name has changed itself to Verash and my mobile number has disappeared from the dealer's records, even though, as I said before, the subsidy reaches me directly and the SMS message gets through to me on phone too. 
 
Obviously, therefore, somebody has fiddled with the local database at the dealer end. The dealer's staff, magically, know my mobile number, though.
 
What happens, if your dealer database name and phone number are at variance with the records kept by the gas company, in this case Bharat Petroleum (where I am a shareholder of a reasonably large number of shares, by the way) aka BharatGas?
 
1) You cannot raise an online complaint or vigilance report.
2) You cannot make an online payment for a refill.
3) The dealer can threaten to stop supply.
4) Complaints made for gas leakage and emergencies can and do go adrift.
5) You cannot fill any form if the mobile number is wrong or absent.
 
All the above are underway right now. Luckily, we have electrical and solar options for cooking at home, and so we are not dependant on cooking gas at all, so that's one stick the dealer, one Guptaji from Satish & Company, Hauz Khas, South Delhi, cannot beat me with. But he did try to insist that I go through a "change name procedure", which costs Rs500 and buy a new regulator which costs Rs750 and also pay another Rs250 for a new hose pipe. Over and above that, an inspection for "insurance" purposes, another Rs300.
 
So when I sent ‘Mr Gupat’ long letters telling him why I was not going to play along, he got kind of irritated with me referring to him as "Gupat", and refused to attend the gas leak emergency. Luckily, as an ex-tanker man myself, I know how to attend to this sort of stuff myself, but that's not the point.
 
The point is that all the other organisations, government or otherwise, have given up on the minor spelling variation games, and have moved on - or made it easier to fix matters. 
 
It's called ‘correction’. Not "change". 
 
After all, I am very happy with the name my parents gave me, so why is BharatGas aka BPCL ex-Burshane insisting that I have to "change" my name? Because Mr Gupatji of Satish & Company thinks, he can get away with it?
 
Note: If your name and other details have been altered by the dealer or gas company, then a "correction" is their responsibility. Don't get tricked into filling up a "name change" form and then paying for it.
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COMMENTS

Shrik S

2 days ago

Its a brave conscientious human from inside the system only who can change the game if s/he so chooses.I wonder what all my dad had to go through to maintain that 1 cylinder we used to get from BharatGas dealer.being called a 'madraasi' in the northern parts of the country back in the 80s was a fad and it was ridiculed and appreciated equally but coming to the aspects of name being recorded, having a shorter name was def. some advanage but the spelling letters still varied like writing sun'daram' as sun'dram' or sun'drum'. I need to check whether 2 yrs back when I surrendered my cylinder with the setting up of LPG gas, whether I exchanged extra Gandhis but I do remember that the website had a whole bunch of problems and it irked me no less that I didn't get any response frmo the email IDs that I wrote to.

REPLY

Veeresh Malik

In Reply to Shrik S 1 day ago

We exist happily without cooking gas at all locations in India except at the ancestral home in Delhi. Apart from name, spelling and the whole nine yards, the form online asks for only customer's name but the dealer wants mother's and spouse's name. And will then get some spellings wrong there too.

Veeresh Malik

5 days ago

Further update. Our oil companies have no training programme for dealer principals or key management personnel. These are the people who at last mile are supposed to ensure safety of cooking gas.

Veeresh Malik

6 days ago

The sage continues. The episode started when I observed a leak in the cooking gas system and reported it, the person required to check the leak is supposed to be a "trained mechanic" but the person who came, two different persons, were unable to provide any form of certification that they were "trained". It continues.

Tapan Thakker

7 days ago

I spoke to one my friend who happens to be a dealer of Bharat Gas..
And here are few things I could understand:-
1) Name spelling mistake is because of offline (paper system) to online computer system :- it’s like typo error of staff and as far as it can be understood tht the person is same they update mob no, addhar card etc

2) if ever customers wants to get this typo error corrected BPCL does not have any system to correct this in their software or option is to change it thru Name change. Dealer has all customer records in BPCL software and tht is what they have to use compulsorily..

3) their is no need to change your regulator if it is working fine!! Pipe has an expire date after tht it needs to change..
Mandatory inspection needs to be done every 2 years for insurance purpose and it thru government order specifly know as “Sudha Joshi committee recommendations”

And regulator cost :-295/- pips cost :-190/- mandatory inspection cost is as per ur burner at home:- from 177 to 295/-

Hope this clarifies a lot and u can always msg in comment for any other questions!!

REPLY

Veeresh Malik

In Reply to Tapan Thakker 7 days ago

We have all got friends and family who are dealers and PSU types. As long as gifts flow regularly from one to the other, customer can take a running jump, right?

Your friend is being VERY economical with the Truth, we are also not fools, so pointwise.

1) Customer details flow is not paper-to-device anymore. The subsidy and message about bank update comes to the correct name and mobile number from the same database. Maintaining a separate local database for billing tricks is the reason for bigger game by dealer and side income by forcing customers to "change name/details" is the smaller game.

2) When I made a noise and filed a Public Grievance, all records were corrected by magic or what?


3) Regulator, pipe, expiry date, fine, let us see the details on Bharat Petroleum/BharatGas website. Insurance is another ripoff, the dealer is unable to provide details of master policy, what are they talking about?


I have people from dealer and BharatGas contacting me relentlessly. My background in shipping on tankers chartered to PSU companies, friends and family in the same business, and ground level contacts all point to a much larger fraud in such cases. Let the dealer be audited for name address mistakes, and what should be permissible error. 1%? 5%? 10%?

And as far as Sudha Joshi Committee is concerned, just throwing names around of a report from 1987 does not impress me, please take a look at something more recent in the same context.

Rajesh Nandal vs Lpg Gas Companies on 25 November, 2010, COMPETITION COMMISSION OF lNDlA

Case No. UTPE no. 104I2009 Date 253.1 .10

Rajesh Nandal informant

LPG Gas Companies Respondent

Have a nice day.

Tapan Thakker

In Reply to Veeresh Malik 7 days ago

Hi.
Pointwise reply to ur points...

1) name problem happens only in old cases!!! In new cases once the SV voucher is printed and signed by consumer distributor cant change the same in system!!

2) As i know correction is not possible in bpcl they must have got a name change done witout any charge to u!! As u must have shouted in social media and any ways lpg and petrol pump have dealers are in general know to thiefs due to olden days where LPG and petrol were scares!!
I am not saying all are good but not all are bad also!!!

3) All the dealers have the mandatory inspection letters from their head offices and in a way it’s compulsory!! Website not updated is a miatake of BPCL and dealers has no say in it!!

4) ur details on case is right and after reading it clearly shows tht omc distributer can change customer as per govt guidelines and letters for the same has been issued by ministry!!

Sudha joshi committee in from 1987 and regular letter for revision of charges is issued by ministry to omc’s and same is fowarded to distributos... it’s available with distbutors!!

You too have a nice day..

Tapan Thakker

In Reply to Tapan Thakker 7 days ago

Point 4:- spell check :- distributors can charge and not change!!

Veeresh Malik

In Reply to Tapan Thakker 7 days ago

Only a bad carpenter blames his tools. In this case dealers blame "software" and "computer".

1) Old/new, everything levelled off when Aadhar details were added for subsidy and direct messaging, but if dealer chooses to maintain double books like in the good old days, only this time on computers, then they need to be pulled up.

2) Correction of name and re-addition of mobile phone number as well as correction of PIN code was done at dealer end on their internal database. It was always correct on BPCL database. The fiddle with names and addresses is to make reconciliation difficult. Bear in mind that we use about 3 cyclinders per annum.


3) The BharatGas dealer has not got a single staff member who is PESO accredited or compliant and they don't have the required ID cards or certification either. Compare this with Indane.

I know what I'm talking about. The dealer is supposed to regularly update customer database. If they run multiple databases for customers on different servers or computers then that needs to be investigated. Especially if the receipt issued does not carry a valid consumer number.



Arun Nair

7 days ago

Oh my, i have seen so many of my friends undergoing this scam... in one case (from 1986-87 era) the names of 2 of two elder siblings of my friend were intentionally misspelled in their 10th class certificate which the father got corrected after suitable incentives were handed out. By the time it came to my friends case, the father had caught on to the scam and refused to get the name corrected, as a result he still goes by a misspelled name..

REPLY

Veeresh Malik

In Reply to Arun Nair 7 days ago

Generations of my friends, especially South Indians with multiple long names, have seen their names being mutilated. My own real surname vanished in the sands of time and I am saddled with the honorific my father found himself stuck with one day as a new surname.

Murali Ratnam

1 week ago

Thank you for the alert .Typical
Incredible indian mentality

REPLY

Veeresh Malik

In Reply to Murali Ratnam 7 days ago

Give it back. I've had the bunch of them outside my gate and keep a register especially for this, in which I ask them to enter every possible details - name, father's name, permanent address, present address, office address, senior officer's name and full details, Aadhaar card number, mobile number, declaration about not carrying arms, declaration about not carrying electronic equipment, not allow them to carry mobile phones in. Then I make them walk under a wooden frame and do a security check with a plastic coloured sword or plastic cricket bat. Then I make them sit on a chair whilst I make a few phone calls.

MIHIR AVINASH KULKARNI

1 week ago

When I visited Bharat Gas recently, they were checking if there's some DBTL or not. Don't know what that means, but they charged me some Rs. 263/- for transferring to my name. Also, they asked for a different mobile number.

REPLY

Veeresh Malik

In Reply to MIHIR AVINASH KULKARNI 7 days ago

Bunch of nincompoops at the various levels at BPCL/BharatGas, all they are interested in is gifts from dealers, and consumers can go jump. Their website is useless, dealers invent their own procedures, and customers are unable to do anything.


Till they cross a line with me.


Manage without cooking gas for a few days and teach them "procedures" is what is happening right now.

RBI Limits Liability of Customers in Unauthorised Electronic Transactions Involving PPIs Like Paytm, PhonePe, GooglePay, among Others
After limiting liability of customers in fraudulent bank transactions, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has brought out new (similar) rules for mobile wallet and prepaid payment instruments (PPI) issued by non-banking entities like Paytm, PhonePe, GooglePay, and Amazon Pay. Under the new rules, customers will have a zero liability in case of fraud, negligence or deficiency from the PPI issuer and if the unauthorised electronic transaction is reported by the customer within three days. Most importantly, the burden of proving customer liability in case of unauthorised electronic payment transactions is on the PPI issuer and not on customers, as per the RBI rules.
 
In addition, PPI issuers are asked to ensure that their customers mandatorily register for SMS alerts and, wherever, available, register for e-mail alerts, for electronic payment transactions.
 
Under the new rules, mobile wallet providers like Paytm, PhonePe, Google Pay and Amazon Pay, will have to setup a 24/7 customer care helpline to report fraud or any loss or theft or hack of the mobile wallet account of their customers.
 
If the PPI customer suffers a loss due to fraud, negligence or deficiency on the mobile wallet provider, the entire amount would be refunded if the incident is reported within three days. For unauthorised transactions reported between four and seven days, the liability of the customer is limited to the transaction value or Rs10,000 per transaction, whichever is lower. For fraud incidents reported beyond seven days, the customer liability would be as decided by the board of the PPI issuer. 
 
 
Reversal Timeline for Zero Liability / Limited Liability of a Customer
 
On being notified by the customer, the PPI issuer is required to credit (notional reversal) the amount involved in the unauthorised electronic payment transaction to the customer’s PPI within 10 days from the date of such notification by the customer without waiting for settlement of insurance claim, if any, even if such reversal breaches the maximum permissible limit applicable to that type or category of PPI. The credit shall be value-dated to be as of the date of the unauthorised transaction.
 
Further, RBI says, the PPI issuers should ensure that a complaint is resolved and liability of the customer, if any, established within such time, as may be specified in the PPI issuer’s Board approved policy, but not exceeding 90 days from the date of receipt of the complaint, and the customer is compensated as per provisions mentioned above. 
 
"In case the PPI issuer is unable to resolve the complaint or determine the customer liability, if any, within 90 days, the amount as prescribed in above paragraph should be paid to the customer, irrespective of whether the negligence is on the part of customer or otherwise," RBI says.
 
Reporting of Unauthorised Payment Transactions by Customers to PPI Issuers 
 
RBI says, PPI issuers should ensure that their customers mandatorily register for SMS alerts and wherever available also register for e-mail alerts, for electronic payment transactions.
 
The SMS alert for any payment transaction in the account should mandatorily be sent to the customers and e-mail alert may additionally be sent, wherever registered. The transaction alert should have a contact number and or e-mail ID on which a customer can report unauthorised transactions or notify the objection.
 
Customers should notify the PPI issuer of any unauthorised electronic payment transaction at the earliest and, also be informed that longer the time taken to notify the PPI issuer, higher will be the risk of loss to the PPI issuer and customer.
 
To facilitate the reporting, PPI issuers are asked to provide customers with 24x7 access via website, SMS, e-mail or a dedicated toll-free helpline for reporting unauthorised transactions that have taken place and or loss or theft of the PPI.
 
Further, RBI says PPI providers need to provide a direct link on mobile app or home page of their website or any other evolving acceptance mode for lodging of complaints, with specific option to report unauthorised electronic payment transactions.
 
"The loss and fraud reporting system must also ensure that immediate response (including auto response) is sent to the customers acknowledging the complaint along with the registered complaint number. The communication systems used by PPI issuers to send alerts and receive their responses should record time and date of delivery of the message and receipt of customer’s response, if any. This is important in determining the extent of a customer’s liability. On receipt of report of an unauthorised payment transaction from the customer, PPI issuers should take immediate action to prevent further unauthorised payment transactions in the PPI," the central bank says.
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Pramod B Patil

5 days ago

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