At 9 months old, most babies are just starting to babble, crawl and pull themselves up. Have you ever met one who can read?
If you ever saw an ad for “Your Baby Can Read” and still had doubts afterward about children as young as 9 months old actually being able to read, you are not crazy. These ads promoting the program were nothing but fiction, says the Federal Trade Commission, who just filed false and deceptive charges against them.
The charges come as another huge blow to Your Baby Can, LLC, which was forced to close its doors last month. The settlement with the company and its president and CEO prohibits the defendants from further use of the term “Your Baby Can Read” and imposes a $185 million judgment, which equals the company’s gross sales since January 2008. How the company will pay back this money is questionable, considering they are already broke or pretty close to it. When Your Baby Can went out of business last month, the company cited the high cost of fighting complaints alleging that its ads were false.
The lesson learned by Your Baby Can and all the other companies that are facing similar lawsuits is that false and deceptive advertising may seem like a great way to make fast and easy cash, but it will get you nowhere in the long run. If a company is running ads that are not factually correct and deceive or mislead consumers, it is only a matter of time before the consumers will figure this out. It probably didn’t take very long for parents to realize that their baby was not actually learning to read, and I’m sure it didn’t make them feel very good.
In this age of the internet and social media, these consumers who feel angry, disappointed or misled by a company have a place to publicly complain. In many cases social proof causes these negative posts to spark comments and feedback from even more unhappy customers. These negative posts are available for potential new clients to see and can be extremely destructive to a company. In the case of Your Baby Can, it ruined their reputation. When you search “Your Baby Can Read” on Google, almost all of the results on the first page are negative. A majority of the related search suggestions refer to the words “reviews, scam, and does it work,” which will also lead to negative posts.
Companies should use this as a great lesson and example of where false and deceptive advertising will get you. With all the information that consumers have access to today due to the internet and social media, it’s no longer as easy to get away with deceiving and misleading them. Consumers should also learn a lesson from this case- if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.