Numbers don’t lie, but they can be manipulated

Have you noticed how advertisers manipulate figures in attempts to make products more appealing to us?  We’re all familiar with the “ninety-nine cent’ phenomenon, where a price  ending in .99 is seen as being a better bargain than something rounded up to the dollar, but I’m not talking about that.  Hey, something priced at 99  is still a buck.

No, I’m talking about perhaps more subtle manipulation.  What prompts this piece is a commercial I heard on the radio this morning.  Can’t recall the product or service, but it was probably something I wouldn’t consider.  I presume it was for some furniture outlet, for what caught my attention was the statement near the end of the spot that “you don’t pay for 540 days”.  540 days sounds great, doesn’t it?  It sounds as if it would be so much longer than 18 months, which is roughly 540 days, yet not as long as “a year-and-a-half”.  That sounds far too long.  They are approximately the same span of time, yet something about the 540 days, advertisers believe, sounds just fantastic.

I haven’t seen any for a while, but do you remember when car manufacturers and dealers were offering financing over 72 months? Seventy-two months – fantastic term.  Now, ask yourself this: Are you still going to have that vehicle in 6 years?  Because that’s how long 72 months is.   Again, the advertisers are giving us the full term of the loan, but stating it in a manner to make it sound more appealing. If they stated “You can finance this vehicle over 6 years”, most people are going to say “Forget it – that’s far too long”.  But 72 months – that isn’t all that long.

I’ve recently noticed some adverts from (usually) used car lots and dealers in which payments are expressed as, for example, “$200 bi-weekly”.  Again, this is someone having fun with figures.  Two hundred bucks every two weeks sounds manageable for most of us, especially if we’re fortunate enough to have a job.  But, when you do the math on it, well, things look a little different. $200 bi-weekly is a hundred bucks a week, or $14.28 a day. Figuring on a 30 day month, you’re looking at $428.40 a month.  Is that still in your budget?

All the instances I’ve mentioned above sound good on the surface.  It’s only when you do some calculations of your own that the true nature of the beast is revealed.  Don’t just accept anyone’s word for it when faced with this kind of offer.  It isn’t that difficult to work out exactly how long that term really is nor is it hard to expand a bi-weekly quote into the actual monthly payment.

Enjoy the rest of your week.  Remember to hug an artist – we need love too.  And don’t forget – we’ll all still be here to see the sun rise on December 22.