I am sick and tired of hearing the ‘f’ word in advertisements. That’s right – marketing professionals need to learn the definition of the word ‘free’ if they’re going to use it. I recently noticed a television advertisement for Eat Right Ontario, promoting the use of Eat Right Ontario’s services. I wasn’t sure what Eat Right Ontario was so I did a bit of research and discovered that it is a government service offering nutritional advice via email, web and telephone – and the service is ‘free’. Really? Get real! It’s government funded so it’s certainly not ‘free’ – inefficient maybe, but certainly not free. I don’t know exactly the cost that I paid for this service but since it’s paid for by tax dollars, I think that I paid dearly for Eat Right Ontario – even if I don’t use it. Where is the truth in advertising here?
My bank, the TD bank, often claims that they provide me with lots of products or services – free. My head nearly pops off every time I hear one of the bank staff tell me that “oh, it’s free!”. I’m told that coin wrappers, customized stamps for my cheque deposits, cake and coffee during customer appreciation days, envelopes for ATM deposits, Ipods when opening a new account, the personalized greeters when I enter the building, the added Sunday hours – all free. Not! Customers pay service fees for everything at banks, they pay millions of dollars in interest payments so never believe that anything is ‘free’ at a bank – ever! Granted the costs for these items are hidden in some other ‘fee’ that is charged but nothing, absolutely nothing is free at a bank – not even the rose-coloured glasses that are required if we’re to believe that any of this is ‘free’. Please quit using the ‘f’ word before I use another one to accurately describe government and banks.