Instead Of Suing Each Other Over Who Can Claim 'Most Reliable' Why Not Invest In Making A More Reliable Network?

from the wasting-money dept

Ah, for the love of puffery. A few years ago, we were among those who noticed that pretty much every mobile operator in the US had commercials making some sort of claim about how they were the "best" network out there, whether it was "most reliable," "most powerful," or "fewest dropped calls." The whole thing is a joke and I doubt anyone takes those sorts of claims very seriously. But soon afterwards, the lawyers got involved, and lawsuits were filed over who could claim what about their networks in commercials. Even the Better Business Bureau felt the need to weigh in.

Now, it looks like a similar battle is playing out up north. Rob Hyndman points us to the news that there are a series of lawsuits in Canada over similar claims concerning broadband internet access, with one company being upset that another company has commercials claiming to have the "fastest and most reliable" broadband offering.

Here's an idea: rather than wasting money suing each other over these sorts of claims, why not invest some money into actually improving the network?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    AdamR (profile), Feb 19th, 2010 @ 9:13am

    Because that's the easy way of doing it. Plus that will not create share holder value!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    AQ, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 10:10am

    Truth

    I think its less expensive to sue, then it is to come out with a better network i guess.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    John, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 10:22am

    And, as far as I know, they're still arguing in court over a comma in some contract they had between them

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    someone who actually knows what he's talking about, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 10:51am

    Re: Truth

    not necessarily.

    techies tend to erroneously think that merit magically wins over marketing. this is why companies which donate $10m will then spend $90m advertising the fact that they donated $10m.

    remember, when it comes to merit vs marketing, google is the exception... not the rule.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Zac Morris (profile), Feb 19th, 2010 @ 10:52am

    I see your mistake

    Ahhhh, I think I see your mistake. It's one I make all the time. See, you're assuming that people should be pragmatic. Actually the "appearance" of being "the best" is way more important to these companies than actually BEING the best. Because people are such idiots, that they don't actually do any research when they subscribe to a service, they just believe the last thing they saw on TV. It's an easy mistake to make, hope this clears it up for you. ;-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Feb 19th, 2010 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re: Truth

    (from the Hacker Manifesto)
    5. Attitude is no substitute for competence.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Mr. Oizo, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 11:01am

    Because they are better ?

    Because, if they are better and don't need to upgrade their network to 'be' better, the other one still claims he is better. So, suing might be their only resort because they are indeed ahead.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Danny, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 11:07am

    I know why

    Like Mr. Oizo says if they were to actually put their money where their connections are and invest in their networks that means that eveytime someone came along and made their netword better they would have to, wait for it, spend more money to improve their network to make theirs the best network.

    So I think what they have decided is that instead of spending all that money on making their network the best the money would be better spent in getting a legal blessing (ie lawsuit) saying they are the best and that no one else, no matter how much better their network might be, can claim that title.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    FormerAC (profile), Feb 19th, 2010 @ 11:10am

    Re: I see your mistake

    You pretty much nailed it there Zac.

    They've been telling lies so long
    Some believe they're true
    So they close their eyes to things

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Feb 19th, 2010 @ 11:23am

    Re: Re: Truth

    techies tend to erroneously think that merit magically wins over marketing. this is why companies which donate $10m will then spend $90m advertising the fact that they donated $10m.

    that may be, but in the world of consumer technology, most consumers will take the recommendation of a techie over the claims in a commercial. techies tend to recommend stuff they don't have to provide support for, i.e. unreliable services.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    lavi d (profile), Feb 19th, 2010 @ 11:32am

    Reality

    ...rather than wasting money suing each other over these sorts of claims, why not invest some money into actually improving the network?

    Oh, for Chrissakes - Mike, where do you get these silly ideas?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 11:58am

    Actually, a new network that I just started 5 seconds ago has the fewest dropped calls of any. It never has had any calls at all, therefore it never will. Thus, it has 0 dropped calls.

    Now I'm going to sue all the other networks for deceptive advertisements. I think about 1 million dollars per dropped call more they have than me will suffice.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    MBraedley (profile), Feb 19th, 2010 @ 12:10pm

    The issue is that false advertising is much more serious here than it is in the US. That's partly why statements like "the next leading competitor" are so common in Canadian commercials. Subjective statements are frowned upon already, but when they can be reasonably challenged by a competitor is when companies start to get in trouble.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    someone who actually knows what he's talking about, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Truth

    most consumers do NOT take techie recommendations over advertisements... you just think they do because that's what you see as a techie. most people get almost all their purchasing ideas from commercials. a tiny fraction will go out and seek reviews, and an even smaller fraction will go out and seek reviews from people who are actually qualified to give those reviews.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    lux (profile), Feb 19th, 2010 @ 12:32pm

    "Here's an idea: rather than wasting money suing each other over these sorts of claims, why not invest some money into actually improving the network?"

    I completely agree with the argument that these businesses need to shut up and just improve the quality of their service, but I don't think that will ever negate the need for pure marketing.

    While the techies and folks who do the real work, are out working - the suits behind desks in the Sales Dept. just think up new schemes to sell their product, regardless of whether it's true or not.

    As the old saying goes, why let facts get in the way of a good story.

    To put it simply, if Verizon and AT&T's network were near identical in performance and scope - I can pretty much guarantee there would still be a war of the words over whose is better.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    Brendan (profile), Feb 19th, 2010 @ 12:40pm

    Because then they would have an even harder time falsifying claims of network congestion because of "those darn p2p users."

    Give me gigabit already, jerks. I want a fiber tail!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Truth

    most consumers do NOT take techie recommendations over advertisements... you just think they do because that's what you see as a techie. most people get almost all their purchasing ideas from commercials. a tiny fraction will go out and seek reviews, and an even smaller fraction will go out and seek reviews from people who are actually qualified to give those reviews. really? i know my pals and coworkers take my advice/recommendations over any ad and will have their pals or relatives call me on tech advice/purchasing. then again, there are lot of people who think they are techies but really have no F*&*ing clue about anything technology.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Truth

    most consumers do NOT take techie recommendations over advertisements... you just think they do because that's what you see as a techie. most people get almost all their purchasing ideas from commercials. a tiny fraction will go out and seek reviews, and an even smaller fraction will go out and seek reviews from people who are actually qualified to give those reviews.

    really? i know my pals and coworkers take my advice/recommendations over any ad and will have their pals or relatives call me on tech advice/purchasing.


    then again, there are lot of people who think they are techies but really have no F*&*ing clue about anything technology.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Cabal (profile), Feb 19th, 2010 @ 1:54pm

    Missing the point

    Ahhhh, Mike. Did you get suckered, or do you really think this lawsuit is about who has the better product?

    These lawsuits have very little to do with merit at all. This is about advertising. The commercials are expensive to produce, expensive to air, and have many associated costs every time it shows. But it costs you nothing if your commercial is shown on CNN or network news. It costs you nothing if a blog links to a YouTube video of your commercial. It costs you nothing to have the 'public' hold an 'informed' conversation on the merits of your product.

    The art of the press release and the lawsuit go hand in hand. If a lawsuit is accompanied by a press release, it often is a part of a greater marketing strategy. It's also fairly cost effective, especially when you consider the company already funds a litigation team. A few filing fees, and WHAM you’ve got a million dollar ad campaign handed to you. Gratis. Free.

    Even better, in mass market media, the conflict is the story. Almost no one runs follow up stories when the lawsuit settles... so win, lose, draw, it cost you some lawyer time you were already paying for. What did you get in response? If you're lucky, a full news cycle of running your commercial for free and people genuinely discussing your product. If you’re unlucky, no one cares. The subliminal impression is the company filing has been wronged (reinforcing the key message), and the competitor is a liar (reducing the power of their ad buy).

    In their defense, it’s free, largely high quality word of mouth advertising. It also reduces the perceived quality of their competitors, while improving the perception of their own. When name recognition is often the most important factor in a buying decision, a few repetitions may be the difference between a new customer. Investing in the network on the other hand costs a fortune, and doesn't yield significant improvements in customer base… because more often than not it's not about offering the best product... it's about generating the best buzz.

    And… the best reason of all… they do it because it works.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Griff (profile), Feb 19th, 2010 @ 2:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Truth

    You seem to forget that however likely it is for your friends to take your techie recommendations, the majority of consumers don't have a techie like you to ask.

    Yet those who do have a techie mate tend to trust the techie's advice on things that the techie really only has an OPINION on and no true expertise. And many techies like to offer advice outside their area of true knowledge.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Reality

    The governments job is to give people and companies incentive to invest in important things, like lawsuits, instead of wasting precious money on silly things like innovation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Steve, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 2:53pm

    Thank goodness for LTE

    Thank goodness everyone except Sprint is moving to LTE for the next generation of cellular technology. I've seen estimates that it will be nationwide by 2015, and there's supposedly trials happening in 2011.

    (Not that it will make any difference, but it's nice to hope & dream a bit).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Spanky, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 5:08pm

    re

    How many more articles like this do we have to read before we all realize free market capitalism, maybe all capitalism, is bankrupt?

    Its only purpose is to steal from the non-wealthy. It does not contribute to societal progress, it thwarts it. Yet after 30 years of this BS, we still believe in it.

    Astonishing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 5:24pm

    Re: Missing the point

    "Even better, in mass market media, the conflict is the story."

    I roll my eyes every time the mainstream media brings out the body language experts. Then again, I don't really watch mainstream media very much.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Any Mouse, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 9:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Truth

    Really? Is that your opinion? Or is it fact you can back up? Most techies I know will back up their 'opinions' with state fact that can be looked up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    someone who actually knows what he's talking about, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 9:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Truth

    fact? try linux's market share.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Wesha, Feb 20th, 2010 @ 8:38am

    But... But...

    ... think of all the arti^H^H^H^H Hlawyers! They need to feed their children!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This