Asterisks n’ Things

Here’s a more complete copy of the questionable Linens n’ Things ad we wondered about yesterday. Click to expand.

According to the advertising regulations set forth under N.J.A.C. 13:45A-9.2, part 5, deems unlawful, “The use of any type, size, location, lighting, illustration, graphic depiction or color resulting in the obscuring of any material fact.”

Having an “Everything*” and then limits on “everything” seems, to our untrained minds, falls under this item’s reach.

For this to be true, the following assumptions must also be true:

1. Because Linens n’ Things headquarters is in NJ, its online ads are governed by NJ laws.
2. There are no further NJ laws specific to asterisks in advertising.
3. The limitation on “Everything” constitutes a “material fact,” that is, “A fact that would be important to a reasonable person in deciding whether to engage in a particular transaction.”

What do you think? Is this a valid complaint?

(Thanks to W. Dyer!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. DeeJayQueue says:

    I think the spirit of that leans more towards “you can’t put the exceptions in 2pt script along the edges of the paper, and you can’t have important bits of the rules blocked out by that giant 65 pointed starburst that says WOW!”

  2. KevinQ says:

    DeeJayQueue stole my comment. But I will add, it seems like the asterisk is not hiding information, but informing the consumer that there is more information to be had.

    Also, the store should have to follow the laws of any state in which is publishes the ads.

  3. umrain says:

    But the “more information to be had” in this case is bascially informing you that the asterisk’d word is actually a blatant lie. Although in regards to the quoted law I’d agree that isn’t an issue, as the asterisk is pointing out the lie, rather than hiding it.

  4. Mary Marsala with Fries says:

    I agree with umrain’s first sentence — the asterisk is pointing out a lie, which means that the original word “everything” is deceptive, i.e. is hiding the truth, that “everything” is emphatically not on sale. I think this is absolutely a valid complaint, and should be filed and strongly-worded. As consumers, we need to draw and keep the line nice and black and fat when it comes to corporations lying to us. This is a lie. This would absolutely affect someone’s intent to shop this sale — “everything” being on sale is one thing, “everything except these seven or eight brands” is quite another. I can think of several people off the top of my head who would shop at sale #1 but not at sale #2. Bury these assholes. If I can help, just say the word.