Lies retail tells us

As a red-blooded American woman, I love me some good advertising. Clever marketing strategies impress me and even when it’s obvious that the people behind the curtain want me to buy or buy into something specific, I can’t blame them. Getting me to buy in is their job, and it’s my own choice to watch Seinfeld reruns and their commercials before bed.

But some ploys simply go too far. Too far, my friends.

1. Wrinkle-free.
What do you mean, “wrinkle-free”? Yes, I get the intent. This shirt isn’t supposed to wrinkle. I should be able to pull it directly out of the warm embrace of a tumble dry low heat, shake it out with a grand flourish, and present it for wearing to the lucky owner of this amazing masterpiece of tailorship. False. A wrinkle-free (also misleadingly marketed as “no iron”) shirt–do bachelors fall for this crap? because most wives can call this bluff before the gift receipt is done printing–wrinkles just like the rest of them do. I’m pretty sure it has to do with the whole being made of cotton, applying warm water and soap, and then swirling around with other sartorial company for 45 minutes. And now on top of not saving me time and not inventing a shirt that doesn’t need to be ironed before work, retail, you have truly let me down. Think about that next time you sew a stupid, untrue label into your menswear.

2. Stain resistant.
Hahahaha! Heeeheeheeeheeee! GAAAAhahahahahaho ho ho ho! I’m sorry. Ok. Bahahahahaaaaaa! Alright now I’m ready.

What is this, “stain resistant” you market to me, retail lords? The only thing I have ever found to be stain resistant was the poster board I was trying to make a yard sale sign out of. It was stubbornly resistant to the stain of my markers and I had to advertise on Facebook, which means all my old college roommates and distant cousins were aware of the sort of crap I was hoping to pawn off on others for .50  cents. That burned. So I’ll thank you to keep your stain resistant claims to yourself until you have a dog, an athlete husband, or a yard sale that goes viral. And I wish the last one on you with the force of the full interwebs.

3. Sale!
Ahhh the classic. Nothing makes me giggle quite like 10% off being advertised as a sale. Sale? 10% hardly covers the tax in most places. I like nice things but expensive doesn’t always equate to nice, sometimes expensive is just the polite term for needlessly overpriced. Along those same lines, just because you call it a sale doesn’t make it so. $78 for a tank top? No way. 10% off the original price? I jeer. A sale should shift the purchase price of an item far enough that I’m tempted to buy more from you than I originally set out to do (well, I won’t be tempted because I have the retail self-control of Penelope in the face of such odds, but the point stands). If your store’s “sale” is mostly a zero-down-no-payments-for-the-first-three-months gig, then clearly you’re fooling enough suckers to have had those sandwich signs engraved for posterity, but I will not be one of those suckers.

4. Limited time only.
This particular retail lie should come with a permanent asterisk that reads

*until two weeks from now when we run the same sale.

5. Ultra feminine.
Gosh, I do love the irony of an ultra feminine look being displayed on a model who is physically a 12-year-old boy. Nothing says “sophisticated yet girlie” like a middle school dude wearing the latest women’s trends, often from England, and often, ironically, inspired by the boarding school/menswear look often attributed to our brethren across the drink. Retail, you should know that those of us with pants sizes as curvy as our figures are not fooled, not impressed, and most definitely not buying your ultra feminine look clearly designed for a population whose dimensions are approximately those of a pocket notebook.

6. Dishwasher safe.
Another falsehood that should come with a big fat asterisk or list of disclaimers. ‘Have you tried the top rack, redwhiteandnew?’ some might ask. Yes, of course I have, and living here in the shoebox renders the dishwasher-safe-or-not question  moot, but we used to have a dishwasher, and a harmless-looking one at that. Despite my best top-rack loading efforts, which saw lids tucked beneath heavier objects and plastic containers wedged between two mugs that meant business, invariably a “dishwasher safe” object would come dislodged from its nest and tuck itself in the flying parts of a dishwasher at work, or come to a macabre rest on the hot coils at the bottom the machine, emerging (when I finally noticed it) a warped and melted shell of its former leak-proof (see #7) self. If plates and flatware could talk, the tales in the cupboards at night would warn new acquisitions that “none is safe in the dishwasher, despite retail’s lying tattoo on your underside.”

7. Leak-proof.
This humdinger can apply with equal falseness to anything from diapers and panty liners to travel mugs and double-zip plastic baggies. They all leak. The little banner across the corner of the package or label, screaming this lie in disagreeable enthusiasm, is not to blame, it’s just the messenger. But make no mistake, leak-proof is as insidious a lie as the rest of them. It sounds great, sure, and if it were true, would truly make our lives easier. Alas, we are but puppets in the play acting of retail and what is the common response to a leaking travel mug? To go and buy another, assuming the first was a fluke. And that’s how retail reels us in, plays with its catch, and then eats us alive.

The end. 🙂


8 thoughts on “Lies retail tells us

  1. I can’t believe you omitted/overlooked the all-time classic,
    “One size fits all”! Or am I beeing too simplistic? When one size clearly only fits one, why would it be so bad to say so? Then one could decide for oneself if one were said size. Right?

  2. My pet peeve is the “diswasher-safe, leakproof” travel mug whose use now mandates I buy a new “stain resistant, wrinkle-free” dress shirt.

  3. LOL. My two favorite-to-jeer-at retail fallacies are “the more you spend, the more you save!” [no, the more you spend, THE MORE YOU HAVE SPENT] and “save [xyz]%!” My quibble with the last one is that *saving* does not literally equate to *not spending.* If you spend it on something else, or you simply spend all the money you had in your pocket though that may have been equal to the half-off price, you have not, in fact, SAVED a dime. Oh – and the one with the grammatical problem is, “Save 20% off!” What? Retailspeak overload. Exceeded the buzzword-per-slogan quota. Still, in your literary wanderings, check out Cooking With Henry & Elliebelly. It’s a kids’ book and the characters’ parody of a TV commercial is truly hilarious. My kids laugh when I mimic it.

Shout at me.

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