Beware of deceptive marketing on social media & online
'Don't believe everything you see online,' and 'if it's too good to be true, it probably is.' These warnings are often voiced by the Problem Solvers. A recent online video shows why.
"I was sort of curious, so I clicked on it," says Debbie Allen of Aloha.
It was an advertisement that popped up on her Facebook page. The 45-minute infomercial promised 20/20 vision in just days.
The promotional video featured Dr. William Kemp from Virginia. He was identified as a board certified optometrist and creator of the Quantum Vision System, a series of eye exercises that guaranteed improved eyesight.
But there was more. For $37 you'd receive Quantum Memory, Quantum Lie Detector, and Quantum Reading. The video included testimonials from satisfied customers. It also included Dr. Kemp demonstrating the effectiveness of the program to people that he pulled off the street near his Virginia clinic.
But hold on.
Problem Solver Shellie Bailey-Shah found the location used in the video. It wasn't Virginia; it was Northwest 19th and Northrup in Northwest Portland. And the clinic pictured wasn't Dr. Kemp's office. And actually, Dr. Kemp isn't a doctor at all. There's no record of a Dr. William Kemp practicing in Virginia.
Bailey-Shah tracked down Portland actor Gary Powell, who played Dr. Kemp in the video, at his Northeast Portland home.
Powell said that he was hired last summer to play the part. He said he'd not seen the video and was unaware that he was never identified as an actor not a real doctor. To reiterate, nowhere in the Quantum Vision video is such a disclosure made.
And that's the problem. The Federal Trade Commission requires, among other things, any endorser's qualifications to be real, even on social media.
255.3 Expert Endorsements
(a) whenever an advertisement represents, directly or by implication, that the endorser is an
expert with respect to the endorsement message, then the endorser's qualifications must in fact
give the endorser the expertise that he or she is represented as possessing with respect to the
And Facebook's own advertising policy prohibits deceptive, false or misleading content.
Ads must not contain any of the following:
e. Deceptive, false, or misleading content, including deceptive claims, offers, or business practices.
Bailey-Shah asked Powell if he ever thought that the video was suspect.
"To me, it seemed kind of odd," states Powell. "That's all I can say."
Bailey-Shah then asked Powell whether he has any involvement with Quantum Vision, beyond the making of the video.
"No, I have no involvement with them whatsoever," denies Powell.
Powell said that he was hired and paid by a local production company, Berry Media Works. The owner, Bill Berry, told the Problem Solvers that he was hired over the phone by a man from Web Seeds. The man, Chris Fox, provided all the scripts. Unlike most jobs, Berry did not edit the finished product but instead uploaded the raw footage to Dropbox.
And that's where the trail goes cold. All attempts to contact Web Seeds or Quantum Vision have gone unanswered.
Allen said that she won't be ordering the Quantum Vision system.
"No, I'll still continue to wear my contacts and use my glasses, unfortunately," says Allen.
The Problem Solvers have filed a formal complaint with the FTC and asked it to investigate the marketing practices of Quantum Vision.
The Problem Solvers advise when you're dealing with a new product or company, make sure to do your homework and verify that the business, at minimum, has a legitimate address and phone number.