Tim Istock: Read this column, while supplies last

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 6, 2023

One of my dad’s favorite expressions for voicing his displeasure over things he didn’t like, was, “There ought to be a law against that.” So, since I have for all intents and purposes become my father, I might as well carry on that tradition as well.
There ought to be a law preventing businesses from using any of the following phrases in their advertisements:
… as low as …
… from … 
… starting at just …
… up to __ percent off …
… on selected styles …
For example:
“Come in and shop the pre-Labor Day sale on used pianos at Jerry’s Piano World. Prices on pre-owned pianos as low as $200.”

“Wow! I’ve been looking for a good used piano for my daughter. I’ll just bop over and snag one of the $200 models and have a bit of cash left over for lessons.”

Sure you will. How bout a little swamp land in Florida while you’re at it. You see, Jerry actually did have one pre-owned piano priced at $200, but it only had three legs and 14 beer- and cigarette-stained keys left on it, and it was traded to a junk dealer and personal friend of Jerry’s for a six pack and carton of smokes a day before the sale even began. He does, however, have other used pianos priced at $1,500 and up.


“This weekend only, we’ve got to move 300 vehicles off our lot to make room for new inventory. Shop now and save big on the best-selling crossover on the market, priced from $21,999.”

“Man o man, that’s the best deal I’ve seen on these babies. Maybe I’ll scoot on over and pick one up while the sale is going on.”

Uh huh, and while you’re there, maybe they could interest you in a great deal on a little gray matter to fill in the empty space between your ears. You see, the part about being able to purchase the car of your dreams for $21,999 is technically true. Of course, that’s assuming you’re OK dropping that kind of loot on a model having but three pieces of standard equipment — engine, transmission and cigarette lighter — and packing 40,000 demo miles on its showroom-condition chassis. Extra equipment like tires, wipers, speedometer, horn, steering wheel, etc., constitute a package of options sold separately for $20,000 additional smackers, not including tax, title, dealer prep, freight and destination charges, and far eastern executive sushi surcharge.

“Take advantage of our summer special on complete brake jobs, starting at just $199.”

“Hey, I have been putting off getting my brakes done because I’ve been short on funds, but $199 complete — how can I go wrong?”

I’ll tell you how you can go wrong, by being naïve enough to think you’re going to drive in, have your brakes done, pony up $199 plus tax, and be on your merry way. You see, the $199 special applies only to unicycles, and American made ones at that. The brake job for your particular make and model vehicle will come to $799, not including the additional cost of parts and labor for the additional 15 problems they will invariably find once they have your brakes totally disassembled.
“Starting tomorrow, rush on over to Rayford’s Furniture Mart, where prices on our entire inventory of fine furniture has been drastically reduced up to 70 percent.”
“Hmmm … 70 percent off. I suppose I should get there early tomorrow morning and try to pick up a dining room set we’ve been needing so badly.”

No need to rush brontosaurus brain. Every single piece of furniture in the store — which is marked up 300 percent by the way — is 5 percent off, with the exception of a lone $3 unfinished plywood and wire mesh magazine rack, which is 70 percent off.


“Don’t miss the huge 4th of July sale going on now at Rudy’s Wallpaper Emporium. Selected styles up to 80 percent off regular price.”

“Eighty percent off huh? We’ve been wanting to re-paper the entrance foyer, sounds like now’s the time to finally get to it.”

Yeah, why don’t you do just that, only plan on it taking a few months to get used to the metal flake purple print with raised fluorescent orange and green frogs, because that ’70s new old stock roll discovered stuffed under a tarp in the storeroom is the only selected style that is 80 percent off.

Wait, you say there are already laws on the books to cover these kinds of deceptive advertising practices? Great, now you tell me.
Hmmm … can I interest anybody in some really unique, one-of-a-kind wallpaper?