Posts by: Robert Laplaca

A Post Guaranteed to Give a Lesson on Money Back Guarantees (or Your Money Back)

Ever hear of the “Trial Mark”?  In 1869, for his home brewed medicinal products J.R. Watkins created bottles that included an embossed “Trial Mark.”

Mr. Watkins sold his products door-to-door and offered the first Money Back Guarantee to consumers, provided their use of the product did not extend beyond the “Trial Mark.” – Ingenious!

One hundred and fifty years later, money back guarantees are a trillion (with a T) dollar business in the U.S.  With that comes about a 10 billion (with a B) dollar loss for businesses. (more…)

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Is a Gangsta A Gangster?: Does the Judges’ Discretion put Contestants in Jeopardy?

We’re starting off the year packing heat.  On New Year’s Day, the Jeopardy judges exercised their discretion to bump off a contestant who thought he was in the pink.

Answer (it’s Jeopardy): “A song by Coolio from ‘Dangerous Minds’ goes back in time to become a 1667 John Milton Classic.”
Response: “What is Gangster’s Paradise Lost.”
Alex: Correct.
Judges: Nope, incorrect – The correct answer is “Gangsta’s Paradise Lost.”

According to the Jeopardy website, the decision was made because “It turns out that ‘gangsta’ and ‘gangster’ are both listed in the Oxford English Dictionary, each with its own unique definition.” (more…)

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FTC 2017: Consumer Protection Year in Review (aka. If you do it, we’ll catch you)

The FTC put out its consumer protection year in review providing a comprehensive list of significant consumer protection developments in 2017.  Let us indulge you with a recap of a few illustrative actions affecting the promotion world.

“Free” Samples

In October 2017, the FTC charged A1 Janitorial Supply Corp. with deceptively calling businesses offering a “free” sample of its cleaning products and then billing them for the samples after shipping.  Hoping that one hand wouldn’t wash the other, the company shipped the goods to one employee (who received the telephone call) but then sent the invoice to another employee.  The FTC alleged that this practice violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule, 16 CFR Part 310 and the Unordered Merchandise Statute, 39 U.S.C. § 3009.  A TRO was entered and the case is still pending.

The lesson:  To stay squeaky clean, remember free means free even when it’s B2B. (more…)

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2017: The Stories that Weren’t, Taken from the Tales of the Twilight Zone

“It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.”  Rod Serling.

Sweepstakes prizes, lottery scams, influencer marking and excessive branding were popular themes throughout 2017.  Let’s take a look back in “the dimension of imagination” to illustrate how promotions (can) influence our lives. (more…)

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No Room at the Inn (For Bad Reviews)

It’s story time here at youwmightbeawinner.  Young Aaron from Portland, Maine writes, “Mr. Blogger, what do you have to say about the tale of the Innkeeper who had no room for guests writing bad reviews?”  My child I’d say that this Innkeeper was living in Christmas Past where harsh penalties for harsh reviews were common.  Listen here to the lessons that can be learned, when a store, brand or company is online spurned. (more…)

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Sandy Hook Five Years Later: Skill v. Chance Enacting Legislation

In some ways enacting laws is like a contest – a game of skill between qualified legislators – or maybe it’s really more like a game of chance – where winning depends upon luck.  The disappointing facts since the Sandy Hook massacre demonstrate how both legislative skill and bad luck have combined to stifle any hope that such senseless killings will stop.

Guns may have a place in society and there are certain protections afforded by the Second Amendment, but all people should be troubled by the fact that a 20-year old disturbed human being was able to use an assault rifle to take the futures away from 20 children and 7 adults while they were in their grade school classroom. (more…)

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