Marketing Deception in the Philippines

Have you ever been deceived by someone before? How? There are many ways to deceive someone, some are disgustingly direct while some are slickly unnoticeable. Whatever the case, deception is never good. According to Wikipedia, deception “…are acts to propagate beliefs that are not true, or not the whole truth (as in half-truths or omission)…“. Thus deception is not just the telling of a lie, it can also mean omission of important information related to the truth.

What does this have to do with marketing in the Philippines? I am not talking about marketing in general but about experiences in marketing where I was at the receiving end. Not all marketing are deceptive but there are some which merit our attention. Let us take a look at those.

Marketing Deception – Prudential Life Insurance
Last year, Prudential Life called us to inform us that they were giving out freebies because it was their nth anniversary. The freebies sounded good to us and so to make a long story short we went to their office to claim the freebies. Little did we know that there were strings attached! After giving us the freebies, the person that entertained us started his marketing pitch and sold us a health plan.

How was that deceptive?

First, he lied to us. He said that the health plan can be paid via credit at 0% interest payable in 12 months because their company was affiliated with the credit card company. But the truth is, for me to be able to avail of the 12-month payment, I have to call the credit card company myself to change the payment scheme to 12 months. What’s worse is it is not with 0% interest leading me to pay more than I should!

Second is the case of them not telling us the whole truth. When they talked to us over the phone, the only thing they mentioned was the freebies and nothing about any paid plan or the like. Now that is slick deception. Once you’ve bitten the bait, they will hard-sell you with their health plans and make you feel unwise if you do not buy what they have to offer. They will indirectly force you to buy by implying that not buying their plans is unwise and if you don’t buy on the day they offer it, you will not be able to get their health plans at the rate they are offering it if bought on another day.

Marketing Deception – Caritas Health Card
The other day, a Caritas agent called us and said that because of their anniversary (same strategy as Prudential), they are giving out freebies to people that some other people referred to them (same strategy as Prudential). I played their game and went on with the conversation. The agent said that we would receive gift checks worth thousands of pesos that can be used for dental and other health purposes. She also asked me if I have financial cards like credit cards, ATM and the likes (same strategy as Prudential) so that I would be able to join their raffle (same strategy as Prudential). More cards more raffle entries (same strategy as Prudential). I said yes. And then I also agreed to going to their office to claim the freebies (hey it’s free!) but I also readied myself for the expected sales pitch right after giving out the freebies.

It was a Monday and we went to their office at Ayala Makati. It was at the 10th floor of Security Bank building and upon arriving at their office, the look and feel of the place shouted mediocrity (same as Prudential). The items to be won from the raffle were showcased at their “lobby” and I was having a hard time wondering why they are raffling out old-dirty-looking items.

A woman agent entertained us and brought us to a table where she would present the freebies and the non-freebies. First, she gave us the freebies. And then since we are already there, she said that she might as well offer us with an enticing offer that is only being offered to selected people (us) and can only be availed on that day (same strategy as Prudential). She offered us their health cards (HMO) which can be paid through credit cards (same strategy as Prudential). Now, I came into their office with no intent of buying anything or whatsoever and was very determined to say NO to their every offer. That’s what I did but subtly they tried to change my mind by troubling my conscience as if saying that if I don’t by their plans, then I was not interested in protecting(insuring) my health and my wife’s.

In the end, she was pretty annoyed because none of her efforts convinced us to buy. We thanked her and left and simply chuckled on our way out.

Lessons From the 2 Stories
I do not think that their companies are fraud or they are offering scam plans. My point in this blog post is that they are using dirty and deceptive tactics to market their products. If you analyze both stories, you would see that their strategies are similar and they are:

  1. Call you at home to tell you that you will receive freebies as part of their anniversary. This is funny because many have called us (month after month) using the same line leaving us to think that it really is not their anniversary but their monthsary lolz.
  2. During your phone conversation, they will tell you to go to their office and claim the freebies. They will also tell you that you do not have to worry as you would not have to pay anything. This is true but deceptive. Yes, you don’t pay for the freebies but once you step into the “lion’s lair” they will hard-sell you with your offers which you might not be able to turn down if you have a weak will or simply unprepared for their sales talk.
  3. They will constantly ask for your financial cards (credit card, ATM, etc…). I am not entirely sure why but I think this is to make sure that the person that they are talking to can afford what they have to offer. Or if you are a credit card holder, they will try their very best to have you use your credit card to buy their plans.
  4. The credit card trick goes like this. They will say that you can use your credit card to buy their plans. And then they will say that you can opt to pay the plan monthly through the credit card and you would not have to do anything because this will automatically be done for you which is a lie.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide. If it so happens that you already are looking for an insurance plan or a health card plan, then this might be the perfect opportunity for you. You surely would not mind all the sales talks that would come your way to convince you as you are already set to buy.

However, if acquiring these are not part of your plans, then beware of their dirty tactics and mind games that they will throw at you. The things I mentioned above are some of the things that they will do. So if ever you encounter what we have encountered, just ready yourself for the worst by learning from the things we have already learned.

Additionally, here are some other noteworthy Prudential Life and Caritas encounters by other people. Check out the post and more importantly the comments section:



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