An ad in last week’s Idaho Statesman touts the newest free TV invention with no monthly bills and the slick little invention pulls in “953 crystal clear shows.”
Boise area residents, in the listed zip code area, who saw the ad, called BBB to check out the claim. In the advertisement, that looks like a printed article, consumers are told to call Clear-Cast’s Free TV Hotlines.
Residents that call are told the device, which looks like an indoor digital HDTV antenna, is razor thin and delivers picture-perfect reception without cable, internet, or satellite dish.
A large photo in the ad appears to have FedEx employees loading FedEx trucks with boxes of Clear-Cast products.
The words “Free TV” are linked closely with every description of the Clear-Cast product. The term free is used 36 times in the advertisement.
It took five minutes to find the part where it states the Clear-Cast antenna will cost $47 plus shipping. In phone conversation, consumers who purchase the product will also have to buy a “HDTV digital conversion box” separately, however, that is not disclosed in the advertisement.
This is a deceptive placement wording. The word “free” may be used in advertising whenever the advertiser is offering an unconditional gift, not dependent on buying free merchandise or services.
In addition, the free offer must be temporary, otherwise it becomes a continuous combination offer, no part of which is free.
In this case, the television airwaves are public and are “free” unconditionally. In the Treasure Valley there are more than 20 free television broadcasts transmitted daily.
The wording of 953 crystal clear shows is deceptive because consumers may assume they will be receiving that number of channels. A disclaimer states:
“The number of channels received will vary by zip code. Residents living in large metropolitan areas may get up to 53 crystal clear channels, while people in outlying areas will get less. That means even in rural areas that pull in just NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX and PBS broadcasts, there are up to 953 shows each year to watch for free.”
BBB advises residents to read the fine print in this advertisement.