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Puffery or False Employment Promises

I like to think that I’m one of those jumpers into Monday!



Which brings me to the blog topic of marketing versus puffery. I remember the first time that I heard the word puffery in law school. I thought that the law professor was kidding.

I soon learned it was a real legal concept. That it’s really a promotional claim that no reasonable person would consider the advertising statements literally. I guess it’s perfect for sales. Like the salesman who always claims that I have “lots of things in the pipeline”, when his manager questions his lack of sales.

How about those horrible commercials for Chevrolet, with the people so amazed at the cars and trucks that all they can do is jump around and say wow. I have never seen “not actors real people” seem so excited about car seats and looking at the half of a car. That’s not puffery in marketing. That’s just nonsense.

A better example is the advertising of Papa Johns Pizza. It’s puffery because no one really believes that they have better ingredients and therefore better pizza. Someone could potentially like the taste of their sauce or think that Peyton Manning is funny in the ads. However, no reasonable person would think they have better ingredients, since all pizzas basically have the same ingredients. But that is acceptable puffery advertising.

Unfortunately for Uber Technologies, they crossed the line from puffery, into a claim of misrepresentation. Now Uber  is paying a 20 million dollar settlement for claims of driver deception. (CNBC)

The agreement was made with the Federal Trade Commission relating to statements that Uber had made regarding claims of income that their drivers could make. Between the years of 2013-2015, while they were trying to recruit drivers to their service rather than competitor Lyft, the advertised potential driver earnings far exceeded what drivers really were earning. Plus, drivers were paying substantially more for leased cars than advertised.

The attached article provides a great discussion of earnings in the major cities. It also provides a reminder that companies just can’t get away with misrepresenting benefits, just to assist their growth. Meanwhile, Uber says that they are glad to settle this dispute.

Still, I am glad that Uber is doing well. At least that’s good for us when we want to catch a ride. Right?

And for pic o’ day, it’s really a thought that was sent to me about the progress of New Year’s resolutions:



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