Friday, April 8, 2011

Len's Laws -- a Friday Feature Second Edition

Len's Law: Advertisers must drop the word "available" from their ads.
Don't tout something that costs extra. The car you are talking about, the one that costs less than the competition, doesn't have all those features in it. I love the ad that says, in big, bold type, the car costs $27.900. In baby type, "As shown, $39,800." With "available all-wheel drive" you can laugh at snow. But don't forget next winter that you were too cheap to go for the "available" all-wheel drive and snow is laughing at you. Why not just say how much the car equipped with all the stuff we were touting will cost and let the customer figure out if all those toys are worth it.

Len's Law: Don't say something is free when it's not. Free Credit Report Dot Com. If you have the word "free" in your name, you should be giving something out free. Free Credit Report Dot Com will give you your credit score and credit report free if you pay them $15 a month. Huh? Reports are free with enrollment in some credit watching company's service. That's fine...there are people who need this service. So say so. Don't have people singing and talking about your free credit report and then have the announcer mumble "Free with enrollment in..."

Len's Law: Be careful with people's information. How brain dead do you have to be to collect vital financial statistics and then have some dunderhead take the information out of a secure environment because he wants to work at home? And how brain dead do you have to be to delay letting people know for a month and a half while you conduct an investigation? You don't take your time letting people know that their financial information is at risk. It gets worse because you are not a bank where people voluntarily give you their information but a hospital where you take this information to make sure you get paid.

Len's Law: If you are a news organization, try to be fair and not stupid. First, in fairness, let me say David Avigdor is my friend. That doesn't change what I am about to say.
A certain on-line news site in New Haven was covering the trial of some people who were charged with being part of a mortgage-fraud scheme. Most of the coverage by one reporter was fair. He told both sides and kept the purple prose to a minimum. Then another person, an editor no less, covered final arguments. "When a mortgage scam mastermind was handing out “bags of money,” David Avigdor “did not receive any cash,” his lawyer claimed in a last-gasp attempt to defend the attorney and rabbi’s reputation." Last-gasp attempt to defend? Final arguments are the last bite at the apple for lawyers, but last-gasp has connotations that give an unfair taint to a story. Then a headline saying the jury could not agree. The jury had met for less than a day and send out a note asking for instruction about what to do if they could not agree. They never said they could not agree. Not yet, anyway. If you can't be fair, stay out of federal court, or any court for that matter. And if you think phrases such as "last-gasp attempt to defend" belong in a news story, perhaps you should ride your bike to a shoe store and apply for a job. You don't belong in journalism. You belong selling shoes. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Have a great weekend, y'all, and for those in the Tribe, have a great Shabbat.

Until next time...

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