Lani Rosales and the folks at Agent Genius started it. I swear. If you don't believe me visit the networked blogs Facebook post for the AgentGenius group. So let's talk a little about ethics in advertising...
One would think the average American would know when they are reading a line of advertising and be able to seperate it from a statement of fact. Additionally you would imagine there would be a stronger desire to advertise one's abilities and offerings more accurately in light of the recent changes to how the Federal Trade Commission is looking at every form of advertisement including blog posts.
What about making claims that are true but make it appear as though the person or company presenting those claims are somehow better than their competitors? Is that illegal, unethical or immoral? Why don't you be the judge.
For several years a particularly foul mouthed mortgage broker (a very successful one by the way) has shouted about how crappy everyone else in the industry is and how his company does something very well. The insinuation is that no other company does this and I do believe in fact I once heard him say he "invented" or "pioneered" the tactic. The end result and what he states are what could be damning.
His claims were that he would refinance your home "many times" to get you the best rate and that it would "never cost you one thin dime". Wow! Amazing! This dude and all of his people work for absolutely free just for you! Of course just a couple of years ago he also had an ad (which immediately followed the no closing costs home loans spot) looking for top performers who wanted to make $300,000 or more per year.
Sure, that refinance didn't cost the borrower one thin dime. It cost them thousands of dimes.
We all remember Countrywide getting hammered by Chuck Schumer calling on the FTC for almost exactly the same thing so this particular person stopped those ads for a while but they are again now being heard. "Schumer said television advertising by subprime lenders such as Countrywide and LendingTree makes no mention of the pitfalls and current dangers of taking out subprime and variable-rate loans. Schumer also announced what he called a plan 'to crack down on potentially false advertising by lenders' and called on the Federal Trade Commission to immediately issue a widespread consumer alert to help potential homebuyers avoid misleading advertising and loans." (TimesUnion.com)
We joked about it, "No one can do you like Countrywide". (Remember the distinguished, gray haired fellow who said, "No one can do what Countrywide can." A - it was a lie and B - in retrospect that was a good thing. The Attorney General of California agrees.)
Some months ago there was a challenge issued to a loan officer who had a little ad here on Active Rain claiming 15 minute approvals with no qualifying what he meant by approval. Here again anybody with access to DU can get an "approval" in 15 minutes but it comes with at least a dozen stipulations that must be met for a true and final approval. He conceded that was misleading and changed (then removed) the ad.
Sure, it's just symantecs. That's the point. People are easily misled and the people who mislead them may or may not be displaying the highest integrity.
Right now there is a mildly heated back and forth by one company's claims to be able to "guarantee ten day closings". Once again anyone in the industry automatically knows there are caveats and without even asking I can already know that's from the time they receive the full loan package with all documentation. Easy - my company and a thousand others can do that all day long.
The impression advertisers (people) like this project to the public is they are the only ones who can accomplish this feat. Playing back into the AgentGenius original blog post about so many agents being Number One.
So here is your question and yes, we all expect your input because it is important: Does this, in your opinion, violate ethics?