What in life is guaranteed?

I believe the traditional answer is that the only certainties are death and taxes. Although it has been known for people to cheat death…

Wetherspoons promotional poster (flickr)

But in this particular case, it is the use of the word guaranteed that has intruiged me.

The poster says that there is a price hold, and that they are holding those prices “until 31st March 2009 Guaranteed”. Now here’s the pop quiz.

Is that text large enough to be readable?

Did you miss the asterisk indicating that there was a disclaimer?

Even knowing that there is a disclaimer, have you been able to find it, and read it?

Do you think think that there is somewhat of a discrepancy between the size of the text telling you something is guaranteed, and the text telling you when it is not, in fact, guaranteed at all?

What the disclaimer actually says is:

Unless we experience any exceptional cost increases beyond our control. Prices are applicable to each pub and may very per location

Now I have no objection to the second point, providing the poster is showing the correct prices for that location. What I object to is the idea that someone will say that they will guarantee prices don’t go up, and then provide a disclaimer. It’s hardly a bleeding guarantee, then, is it?

What they mean is “we will try not to put prices up uneccessarily”. But that doesn’t sound as good on an advert, so they have instead used a word which is unsuitable under the circumstances, particularly as what is considered to be an ‘exceptional’ price increase appears to have been left solely to their discretion.

So I got to wondering two things. Firstly, is it allowable for an advert to use the word “guaranteed”, when something — to my mind at least — is not actually guaranteed at all. Secondly, if you’re going to have a disclaimer, should it not be of a size which is actually vaguely readable?

What do you think?

4 Responses to “What in life is guaranteed?”

  1. mark fairlamb responds:

    couple of more or less related points:
    -if the government put about 2p tax on a pint of beer every year, why has it gone up about £1.50 over the last 10 years?
    -i’m with npower on a fixed price guarantee 2007 - 2009 and they’ve just put the rates up.
    there’s abslutely no point buying a product based on a guarantee

  2. Dan responds:

    I’m sure one of Trading Standards, the OFT or the ASA would be interested in it. Although there’s no specific provision in advertising regulations for the word ‘guaranteed’ (unlike ‘organic’ for example) it’s misrepresentation if it’s not guaranteed at all.

    You could just drink your fill while the prices are held, to be sure that if they don’t honour the guarantee at least you’ll have had you money’s worth.

  3. Mike Cherim responds:

    I got an email for a “guaranteed enlargement,” but it’s probably not very good ;)

  4. Ross responds:

    typical, there are no such things as bargains/good deals in this world, trust me…

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