Watch out for advertising traps: Going out of business, free, we will not be undersold, guaranteed

CLEVELAND - There are ads that promise so much you have to wonder, what's the catch? NewsChannel5 teamed up with Consumer Reports to give you five potential traps that could cost you money.

Patricia Coyl from Mentor wanted to point out our first ad trap.  "Obviously, there's something wrong with this window.  It’s leaking," said Coyl who led us to a couple of bedroom windows in her home.  The trap, is not the spotting problems all over the windows, but the so-called lifetime warranty behind the windows.

"What was your reaction?” we asked.  “Damn,” Coyl replied with a laugh.

Coyl and her husband bought the Regency Windows several years ago with an “Exclusive 5 Star Warranty.”

Business experts said you need to really know the details.  "Ask the simple question, who's lifetime?  Is it the product's lifetime? Is it my lifetime?" said Dr. Elad Granot who’s the Assistant Dean of the MBA program at Cleveland State University.

Coyl said Regency is out of business now and so is the manufacturer.  Because of that, her lifetime warranty is no good anymore.

Second trap:  Going Out of Business Sales. 

Joe Daugirdas is "Joe The Coupon Guy" who has a shopping blog.  He prides himself on saving money.  He was at one of these sales once and noticed something strange. 

“I peel back the stickers and I see they actually had a lower price before they over-stickered the new price on it,” said Daugirdas. 

He went on to tell us sometimes liquidators will come in, raise the prices, and then claim there's a big percentage off. Be careful.

Third trap: Free.  You've seen "Buy one get, one free or even buy one, get two free."  Some shoppers said they get what's going on.  "They just mark up the price or they get you somehow,” said shopper Nikki Sizler from Strongsville.  “I don't believe in the ‘free.’  That's not true,” she added with a laugh.

Fourth trap, don't fall for: "We Will Not Be Undersold."  

Stores promise price matching but many times it's not for everything like matching online deals.  Plus, there are times the matching has to be the same exact model number. 

Daugirdas told us maybe one store has a TV model 123-A which is the same set as one sold at a different store but that number is 123-B. 

"And when you go to price match it, they say ‘Oh, we can't price match it.  It's a different model’ even though physically it's the same item,” warned Daugirdas.

Fifth trap, watch out for: "Satisfaction guaranteed."  

Dr. Granot said always check the fine print because you might not get money back, but maybe a store credit or something else.  "Unless they specifically say, we'll take back everything for any reason at any time, assume that they don't,” Dr. Granot said.

Not all of these ads are out to get you, but the on your side advice is to know the exact terms surrounding any of them. 

For people like Coyl, they've become a bit jaded to some of the advertising out there.  "Don't believe it.  Just try to get the best window you can and hope nothing goes wrong," he added.

More On Your Side Advice: Use a credit card when you're shopping, so that if there's a question about a purchase or one of these “ad traps” you can put a hold on the payment until it's figured out.

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