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Quick Voracious Consumerism
by Michael Giardina

The QVC shopping network has a mission: integrity, openness and trust.

Yet, on June 14, 2000, QVC was ordered to refrain from claiming, without scientific evidence, that their products would cure, treat, or prevent disease. And on Mar. 24, 2004, the network was charged with violating the 2000 order. Dubious advertising claims for dietary supplements, energy boosters and weight-control products were beamed into 85 million households. So much for their mission.

One product, Lipofactor Cellulite Target Lotion, supposedly reduced cellulite without the need for exercise or proper diet. Maybe when pigs fly.

Another weight-control product called For Women Only allegedly allowed users to lose more than 100 pounds and prevent sugar and carbohydrates from being converted to and stored as fat.

Howard Beales, the director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection, believes that some were more than false - they were scientifically impossible.

Today, the company is on edge. On Tuesday, Joint Formula 88 Plus Joint Relief Cream was spotlighted. "This product can reduce pain associated with arthritis," the spokesperson claimed. Another spokesperson quickly and nervously interjected, "It won't cure your knee problem. We need to emphasize that." Indeed, they do - by law.

These ineffective products are still on the market, despite the obligatory disclaimers such as "Individual results will vary; results not typical."

What results are not typical? As phrased, it appears QVC is claiming that results of any kind are not typical. Nonetheless, the products sell. QVC makes nearly $4 billion dollars a year.

One would expect such a successful company to care for its customers and provide unmatched, legendary service. Yet, to this day, it seems QVC instructs its telephone operators to mislead customers.

Controversy surrounds its testimonial line, a phone number the public can call to give gloriously positive reviews. One undoubtedly wonders how the network finds such enthusiastic participants on the fly.

When asked about a slot on the air, QVC representatives are vague and lie to avoid answering questions.

An ordering representative, when asked for the testimonial line phone number, responded, "I don't know the number." When asking if I called 1-800-395-1601, she responded, "No, that is the testimonial line." Realizing her error, she stuttered, "I have no idea what the testimonial line is. I'll repeat it again. I don't know the number."

More excuses:

Passive: "All the lines are busy now. We can't transfer you."

Denial: "There is no testimonial line telephone number."

Aggressive: "What part of 'no' do you not understand?"

Excuse: "It happens randomly."

Of 14 calls, only one representative revealed the testimonial line telephone number.

The technical support team was no more helpful, equally willing to lie and mislead customers. Wayne G., a support representative, claimed one need not have purchased an item in the past to speak on the air; however, the testimonial line representative explained, "You don't have a customer number and haven't purchased this product."

Wayne explained that representatives on the order line do not usually know the number for the testimonial line; however, it was easy to trick these representatives into divulging that they, indeed, knew the number.

"You'll have to call the ordering number and ask if they will connect you to the testimonial line," explains Lena L.

Unlike Wayne, Lena admitted that only members were allowed to speak on the air. I hope she doesn't get fired for divulging that information.

Who are we kidding? It's not profitable to tell the truth. Nor, apparently, is doing so required by law. If you make it shiny, people will buy it impulsively.