Edgar Dworsky, a former assistant attorney general for consumer protection in Massachusetts, has launched a Web site solely focused on catching misleading retail advertisements.
"My comments to advertisers who pull this stuff: Why antagonize potential customers with hidden 'gotchas'?" Dworsky said. "Not only will you likely lose their business, but they will tell their friends—and hopefully also the state attorney general—about the deception." Initial examples? A Chrysler campaign touting a "if not satisfied, return within 30 days" that only in the fineprint mentions some $2,000 in associated charges, a Charles Schwab promo touting $9.95 commissions, but using a microscopic footnote to point its only for those with "$1 million in qualifying assets" and Mazda, which pushed low prices that required very large down payments.