I'm engaged in an "interesting" dialog with Windstream Communications, my local telephone company. They sold me Unlimited Nationwide Calling. I noticed on my last bill a bunch of "regular" calls that I was charged ten cents a minute for. By regular, I mean a number like 704-555-5555. Not an information service or adult content number.
When I called and made them aware of the error, they began to explain their definition of unlimited.
Yes, you heard me correctly. Their definition of UNLIMITED required a definition not available in any English dictionary.
Here's the way Merriam-Webster defines it:
Main Entry: un·lim·it·ed
Date: 15th century
1 : lacking any controls : unrestricted <unlimited access>
2 : boundless, infinite <unlimited possibilities>
3 : not bounded by exceptions : undefined <the unlimited and unconditional surrender of the enemy — Sir Winston Churchill>
Odd... the definition Windstream Communications used relied on a disclosure to change the definition of unlimited. Turns out, their definition of unlimited is nothing like the actual definition of the word.
What's my point?
In business if you market something that requires a disclosure to modify the meaning of the word or words used to describe it, there is a good chance your ethics are going to be questioned.
I've been speaking English for over forty years. I can't recall a single time in my life when I was ever confused or unclear about the definition of unlimited.
I began to ponder the true meaning of other statements I have recently seen in advertising...
How much should free checking cost?
How many trips are you allowed to make to an all-you-care to eat buffet?
How long does a lifetime guarantee last?
How many oil changes are included from the dealer that offers "free oil changes for life?"
Recession or no recession... if you have to take dramatic liberties in the way you describe products or services, it's unlikely you are going to hook new customers and keep them for the long term.
Deception may bring new prospects in the door, but it sure as heck won't earn their respect or encourage them to stick around forever.
Here's the great news... when you start a relationship with a customer based in truth, chances are good they will be loyal to you for a long time. There is the opportunity!