Halachos of Marketing

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Telemarketing

  1. A telemarketer who as a desperate gesture insults the consumer is in violation of onat devarim.[1]
  2. Calling at an inconvenient time such as dinner time (all the more so in the middle of the night) such that the consumer will interrupt his dinner to pick up the phone is a violation of onat devarim. Furthermore, the telemarketer who tries to convince consumers who aren't interested to buy the product are in violation of lo tachmod and lo titaveh of the consumer's money.[2]
  3. Negotiating for a discount isn't lo tachmod or lo titaveh since the seller is willing to sell it at the right price and setting a price isn't a final decision rejecting the offer. However, if the seller says he is convinced of the price and isn't willing to lower it, negotiating or convincing that resort to empathy or emotion or the like are a violation of lo tachmod.[3]
  4. Soliciting for a charitable cause even using persuasive tactics isn't a violation of lo tachmod or lo titaveh since you are helping them fulfill a mitzvah. However, persisting and pestering a potential donor are onat devarim.[4]

False Advertising

Superlatives

  1. One is not allowed to use superlatives to present a product if the superlative will likely deceive a reasonable person.[5]
  2. It is one's responsibility to gather relevant information on products one intends to buy.[6]

Generalizations

Misleading Terminology

Presenting the Good without Mentioning the Bad

  1. While there is no problem with presenting the positive aspects of merchandise (as long as it isn't blown out of proportion in a deceitful way and even a reasonable person would be deceived by it), sellers are obligated to disclose any defects, deficiencies, shortcomings, or imperfections in their merchandise in order to prevent themselves from violating Geneivat Da'at. This is true even if the merchandise is being sold at a fair price for the condition it is really in. [7]

Overcharging in Comparison to the Market

  1. Overcharging by more than 1/6th more than market value is the prohibition of Ona'ah.

Unethical Competitive Practices

Undercutting the Competition

Monopolies

Overcharging for a Staple Item

Sources

  1. Tradition 38:3 2004 article by Rabbi Aaron Levine p. 11-12
  2. Tradition 38:3 2004 article by Rabbi Aaron Levine p. 11-12
  3. Tradition 38:3 2004 article by Rabbi Aaron Levine p. 9-10
  4. Tradition 38:3 2004 article by Rabbi Aaron Levine p. 13
  5. Economic Public Policy and Jewish Law by Rabbi Aaron Levine 1993 p. 76-77
  6. Economic Public Policy and Jewish Law by Rabbi Aaron Levine 1993 p. 77
  7. Geneivat Da'at: The Prohibition Against Deception in Today's World, 2002 article by Professor Hershey H. Friedman