Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Clear-Cast, Another Waste of Your Money from UMS

The Universal Media Syndicate has a misleading new product: the Clear-Cast antenna.

Full page newspaper ad for Clear-Cast
The product looks like a cable box -- it even has a wifi symbol on it -- but it's just an antenna that will pull in broadcast signals. According to Stop the Cap!, it's priced well beyond the amount you'd need to pay for an antenna to get equivalent reception.

The price listed in my Pioneer Press of March 2, 2012, was $47 plus shipping and handling. It's fascinating that the price listed by Stop the Cap from the Syracuse, N.Y. paper was $38. I guess they think Minnesotans are bigger suckers, or have more money to spend than their upstate New York counterparts.

The ad has the usual earmarks of a misleading UMS product. The headline uses the phrase "Free TV" and refers to "953 crystal clear over-the-air digital TV shows." And I know it says shows right there, but when I read it, I thought it said channels (as did the several other people I tried it out on without prompting).

The footnote at the bottom of the ad -- set in condensed sans serif type in a very wide column with tight line spacing -- says:

The number of channels received will vary by zip code. Residents living in large metropolitan areas may get up to 53 crystal clear channels, while people in outlying areas will get less. That means even in rural areas that pull in just NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX and PBS broadcasts, there are up to 953 shows each year to watch for free.
I added the emphasis on the weasel words: It "may" get 53 channels (or not). And that big 953 number not only doesn't refer to channels, it refers to shows per year. I'm not even sure what that number means -- 953 episodes? 953 different titles, including series, movies, and specials?

I give them credit for including the price of $47 as numerals with a dollar sign, something they have avoided in all of their past ads, to my recollection. At least you can see what the price is pretty easily, once you get past all the misleading uses of "Free."

But it doesn't change the fact that this is an antenna that you could get for much less money just about anywhere.

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