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Responsible Marketing

Deception is not Responsible Marketing

By June 11, 2008March 23rd, 20218 Comments

Liberty Names of America regularly sends us expiration notices for our domain name renewals. Problem is, they aren’t our domain registrar. Their notices are formatted like invoices in a ploy to get us to transfer our domains to them.

Click on the image below to take a closer look:

+Click to enlarge

Of course, when you give Liberty your credit card number and sign the front page you’ve approved the transfer of your domain.


Is Liberty breaking the law?

I don’t think so.

There is a sentence that says “By moving your domain name to Liberty Names of America you can take advantage of the savings we have to offer,” and at the bottom, it does say “…transfer and renew” twice.

But review the notice and tell me, are they aren’t asking for your business or trying to trick you into doing business with them?

Deceptive marketing takes many forms

This nonsense has been going on for years, of course. Mortgage companies implying you can reduce your payment, when they aren’t your mortgage company; checks that, upon deposit, transfer your long distance phone service; loss leader prices with absurd strings attached; direct mail designed to look like official government business and and the like all fall into this category.

Even the the Better Business Bureau has gotten into the act. We regularly receive notifications of a “BBB inquiry” requiring our immediate attention. When we’ve responded, we learn it’s actually a solicitation for our company to join the Better Business Bureau. They quit calling me. But last week they called one of my partners.

This isn’t an isolated case. It’s the way the BBB does business. Seth Godin received a call like this, and felt the same way.


These tactics often work due to the fact that as consumers we’re all dealing with information overload, and we’re so busy we process little things like this quickly, often without reading every word.

I remember when I was in high school and college, I evaluated scams like these for my parents, who may very well have fallen for this tomfoolery.

It infuriated me then and it infuriates me now.

Are duped customers happy customers? Do they stick around? Do they refer others?

I think not.

Marketing likes this makes Responsible Marketers look bad, and for this reason, deceptive marketers, you belong in the Responsible Marketing Hall of Shame.

Where have you seen deceptive marketing?

Comment below to weigh in.

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Kiker says:

    Great post Patrick. If you could remove crap like this from the clutter, you’d get 50% less messaging and a measurably lower amount of consumer cynicism. They make our jobs so much friggin’ harder.

    BTW, thanks for your post on my blog. I’ll keep firing away.

    John Kiker

  • Let the buyer beware is still appropriate advice.

    Most people don’t read the entire offer/proposal before they take action on it. Companies take advantage of that sort of laziness and impulse buying, especially nowadays when we make emotional purchases more than ever.

    Both the marketer and the recipient need to exercise wisdom and responsibility to avoid both deceiving and being deceived.

    Alvalyn Lundgren
    founder, Alvalyn Creative

  • It totally pissed me off when I received one of those and it wasn’t until a friend said “oh, yeah, I got one of those two – they’re trash!” that I realized what it was.

    Like you, Patrick, I HATE deceptive marketing. A company that uses that technique deserves whatever fate becomes of them.


    ARRiiVE Business Solutions

  • Caleb Chang says:

    Hate is such a strong word, but it is the right word for how I feel about deceptive marketing.

    I often wonder what kind of carrots are dangled for companies to think that such tactics are warranted. Are sales/marketing departments just trying to recuperate from a lack luster quarter. Where is the line drawn for a little short term gain?

    I was very disappointed that the BBB plays this game. Perhaps it’s time that they considered changing their name.

  • Tania says:

    I have also received various ‘official’ looking letters from mortgage companies and banks and realized they were junk. The worst one I received was from my credit union with 2ND NOTICE stamped on the front in bold lettering in a big, black box. I was embarrassed by it and was worried I forgot to make a payment but that wasn’t the case; it was a worthless solicitation from a third party Sound Credit Union endorsed.

    I mailed the offending envelope back with a letter explaining my displeasure at getting such an offer FROM the credit union and after I had checked the box that I didn’t want any junk mail from companies they might sponsor or sell my name to. I told them I am moving my loan but now I have to take the time to do that.

    I find these practices very deceptive and I try to not support businesses who engage in them.

  • Egads.... says:

    Yeah, I have gotten those notices too, and it really pisses me off, they are definitely trying to trick people into signing up with them, and a closer look should be taken at what can be considered “legal” in the wording of advertisements, and even more so on ads that pretend to be from the government or from lawyers. I’ve even gotten ads designed to look like past due bills that need immediate attention, it’s ridiculous. As a sales professional, I would like to see anything like that stamped out, it makes all sales and marketing people look bad in the eyes of the public, bad salespeople cause customers to come up to the counter with a chip on the shoulder wondering how you’re going to try to “get” them this time. They must be pretty successful with these sleazy techniques, or they wouldn’t do it, and that as well is bothersome.

  • Jack Payne says:

    I write on the antics of con men all the time (Con Man’s Blog). This sort of thing is common in this day and age of the subm-prime mess.

  • thecorpobserver says:

    It’s amazing how detailed these invoices can be. In one case it was an extended warranty for my car.  The mailing had the exact mileage of my vehicle and even the price I paid for the car. We recently blogged on this issue over at The Corporate Observer (

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