BBB Serving North Central Texas is reaching out to Heating/Air Conditioning businesses to provide information on advertising best practices. The BBB Code of Advertising is comprised of 39 sections that offers best practices on the most common advertising issues in the marketplace.
All businesses, BBB Accredited and non-accredited alike, are held to the same advertising standards. Failure to substantiate, modify, or discontinue advertising inquiries may negatively impact a business’ BBB Rating.
Below are the most commonly misunderstood claims we’ve noticed in HVAC advertisements. We’ll explain how to substantiate these types of advertisements or simplistic word modifications to ensure compliance with BBB advertising standards.
1. HVAC & Electrician Licensing Issues.
Did you know that a license is required from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) to advertise that you provide HVAC services? Likewise, if you mention that you’ll perform work that requires a Master Electrician’s license, both your HVAC and electrical license numbers must be included online and on all social media platform. While it’s perfectly fine to use licensed subcontractors, it’s always best to make sure consumers are aware that another company may show up at their door to perform certain aspects of the job.
2. Environmental Benefit Claims (Going Green).
Everyone is going green these days, but if you’re advertising that you’re “eco-friendly” you need to specifically mention how your product or service is beneficial for the environment. These are known as qualifiers.
Certain qualifiers require substantiation while others may simply require clarification (“we use LED lights to reduce our carbon footprint” versus “our product is non-toxic”). For instance, you need scientific evidence to prove organic, biodegradable, non-toxic, or recyclable claims for products. However, if you say that your business is green because your business recycles, that would not necessarily require scientific substantiation. Make sure that you’re specific and be ready to substantiate that you’re actually doing what you are advertising.
3. Satisfaction and Money-Back Guarantees.
These are probably the most frequently misused guarantees BBB sees. You should only advertise these guarantees if full refunds are provided for any reason whatsoever. This doesn’t mean that you’ll come back and fix the issues; it means you’ll refund the entire purchase price. If this isn’t your intent, BBB recommends modifying the verbiage to avoid exposing your business to potential liability. For example, “Your Satisfaction is our Top Priority” or “Customer Satisfaction is Our Main Goal!” If you do provide full refunds, money-back guarantees require all terms and conditions necessary to receive a refund on the ad or direct consumers to your website for the full terms.
4. Guarantee and Warranty Claims.
Almost every HVAC business mentions something about product or service guarantees and warranties. Unlike satisfaction guarantees above, these claims only require a simple disclaimer like “Call for Details.” Most consumers assume they’ll automatically receive the advertised guarantee or warranty. However, if they must purchase it, it requires additional action(s) to avoid voiding the warranty, or there are other restrictions involved, these terms need to be made available so consumers know what to expect. Rather than listing all the terms for the guarantee or warranty in your ads, including this simple disclaimer to “Call for Details” is sufficient.
5. Lowest or Best Price Claims.
Underselling claims are extremely common across all industries. If you say you have “the best price in town,” you should be ready to substantiate that your prices are better than all the local competition. As quickly as prices change, it’s almost impossible to know that you have the lowest price at any time. Businesses can avoid having to continually monitor the competition by implementing a price matching guarantee whereby they’ll beat lower prices under certain circumstances. You can avoid having to substantiate best price claims altogether by stating “some of the best prices” or “among the best prices.” Properly qualified claims may not require substantiation at all.
6. Price Matching (Meet or Beat) Claims
In general, consumers understand that the lowest price isn’t always the best value. However, if you want to advertise best prices you should be ready to prove that you have the lowest prices among all competitors, which can be extremely difficult.
If you have a price matching guarantee, you don’t have to prove you have the lowest price among all potential competitors. Just make sure the complete terms and conditions necessary to receive that price matching guarantee are clearly visible when you mention the guarantee.
No one wants to lower their prices to compete with an inferior product, so be sure you insulate your business from potential liability by including terms like:
Make your terms obvious and ensure the terms you select aren’t too difficult for average consumers to meet.
Free Prior to Publication Review Services: If you want to make sure your ads adhere to the highest standards for trust and transparency, contact BBB NCTX’s Advertising Review Department at email@example.com. We’ll gladly review any content free of charge for all businesses, BBB Accredited and non-accredited.