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A Cautionary Tale.

This is a cautionary tale for those about to buy into a new carreer, and is based on personal experiences in my own industry.

My company markets a new safety product that instantly repairs a puncture as you drive along. We sell our product through our network of installers, but the prime objective is to sell product rather than use the product to sell franchises. To this end we have taken what we feel is a responsible attitude with a potentially life saving product. We and the manufacturers are spending time and money seeking proper approval from various Government approved test houses and authorities.

As part of our market development it was submitted to the British Army for testing and in conclusion was given a NATO Stock Number. During the tests however it also proved to protect the tyres against small arms fire, with bullet holes being sealed instantly and no further repair necessary. We were quite excited about this, even more so when we were contacted by the BBC who had heard about it and wished to feature our product on Tomorrow's World. The programme went out on the 23rd May 2001 and showed our product in a car being driven over a plate of nails and on through a high-speed chicane.

We were somewhat surprised the following week to see in the National press a competitor's advertisement selling franchises over-printed with the slogan "as seen on TV". This latter statement is now true but gives the impression it was their product on Tomorrow's World, creating an air of credibility in the mind of a potential franchisee, which their product does not have.

A variation on this theme by another competitor features a description on their website of how their product (and coincidentally ours) is installed into a car tyre. It then states that "this unique system was featured on Tomorrow's World on 23rd May 2001, call us now and we will arrange to have your tyres treated, etc. etc." All prefectly legal because, although it gives the impression that it was their product that was featured, it does not actually say so, only that the unique system was featured.

On checking another claim that a product was "used by the Military" our solicitors found this was in fact true. The competitor had sent a sample of their product to the Pakistan Army!

There are other examples, many quite amusing, but it brings me back to the start of this article. In choosing a company / product, do your research and ask for proof of statements made before parting with your money. If you are given a copy of an official looking certificate, ring the people who issued it, find out who they are. Even quote the Certificate Number and ask who it was issued to, it's easy to change these with a scanner. Illegal I know, but I've seen it done. A third party letter of recommendation means nothing without a contact address, ring them up and check.

I think my advice can best be summed up by saying check the facts and read what is written, not what you think is written.

Good Luck with your chosen business venture and remember, it's nice to be seen, but more important to be seen to be nice.

Alan Broughton,
Marketing Director, West Wales Automotive (Tyresafe) Ltd.

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last modified: 15-Dec-2001