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Are aquarium hucksters, even the more well known companies above this behavior?

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Tom Barr, Nov 24, 2009.

  1. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I'm not saying every company is, but there's some in this hobby that certainly are:

    http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/108221/nine-more-great-moments-in-false-advertising.html?mod=family-love_money

    While we might not have high profile lawsuits to the extent general consumer products, the issue is hardly one where companies do not feel the need to engage in false advertising and plenty of "weasel" wording.

    "Snake oil" products, wacky water miracle cures, they run the gambit of similar type of approaches used to sell everything in virtually every market.
    This hobby is littered with many examples.

    Use critical thinking when reading this stuff. Realize just because they sell and make the product, does not imply that is is "true".

    Shoes that wear on your feet, the food you eat, the make up some use, all have the same type of bad ethics issues. This does not mean all companies are rats;)
    Just keep a wary eye and reward those companies that are upfront and willing to work with folks on ethical terms.

    I think the web is good for this and helps folks think "better", and can rapidly show evidence of bad ethics.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  2. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    You know, I've come to expect a certain degree of BS from any large company within the hobby. I haven't found exceptions yet to be honest, and I've never gotten a reply when I've inquired about the honesty of their claims. Wouldn't it be nice to walk into any pet sore and be able to call even half the products on the shelf both useful and functional? At the same time, just imagine what would happen to a planted tank run on a random selection of products based on their intended claims and average employee advice.

    What bothers me even more are dishonest fish farms and nurseries. There's no label identifying brand or ingredients. Stores do their best to supply the wholesaler, and the wholesaler definitely protects the name of the farms they buy from. Meanwhile the hobbyist can be left buying plants grown under emersed conditions without any labeling as such, plants grown under impossible conditions for fish compatibility and specimens harboring all kinds of interesting critters at the worst of time. Turning to fish, there are entire species with ruined breeding stock, loaded with hormones, and raised in antibiotic baths. Sometimes over half these fish don't survive the first week in the pet store, let alone the home aquarium.

    Most of these issues can be identified by experienced hobbyists. At the same time, how many have we lost from this dishonesty? How much more of a learning curve is there because of these companies stifling their own industry? Even the experienced but more casual hobbyist blames themselves for any number of things that were never their fault, and all because of this repetitive dishonesty.

    -Philosophos
     
  3. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    It's an issue in many hobbies and other parts of life, like Credit card disclaimers and contracts, HMO's.........politicians...........

    We could add a lot to this list:)

    So while it's wide spread, I still have folks question me for raising the points of truthfulness of claims inside this hobby.

    Irony has no limit.

    I'm not above this to a small degree, perhaps a large degree here and there.
    We all fall for it some. But keeping up awareness helps.

    I might be good in the aquarium hobby, but bad in something else like Bike Tires/Cloths.

    I like Nike trailwind shoes:eek:
    Looking at the article, I might be swayed, but not likely.
    However, I'm not paying $$$ for liquid ferts from a various vendors when thr alternative is easier and cheaper.

    Not the case for a good shoe I like and prefer, even if there's some questionable ethics with their production. If I had a choice, I would pay extra to have the better ethics, but........it's not like the DIY ferts either.

    Different trade offs, issues for each person.

    Still, as a customer, you can nag them about it and tell them you will no longer buy and will look for alternatives due to their ethics.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  4. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Tom, talking with you about these sort of things makes me want to settle down in a nice quiet bunker somewhere far away from the rest of humanity.

    I think liquid ferts can be done at an ethical price for the convenience, but nobody seems interested. I'm mixing up batches of stock solution for planted tanks in local stores in exchange for store credit, and I can get a more than fair return for my efforts. Even with markup, it could easily be provided to the customer at 1/8th the price of what other brands charge.

    All things considered, massive amounts of money are wasted in making major brands look appealing while the cost of the fertilizer its self seems to be less than half of prodution costs.

    I think marketing has gone entirely too far. Then again, when I look at how people function, my mind goes back to the bunker.

    I'm honestly concerned that almost none of our efforts are in making more ethical human beings rather than suplementing with band-aid voluntary charity.



    -Philosophos
     
  5. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    The problem is that the hobbyist doesn't have the means to test or have tested what they are buying. Some companies don't even list on their products what they consist of. We have to take their word for it. That leaves the consumer vulnerable for buying worthless things.

    Water additives that we should add every time we change water. True? Or are they trying to make regular buyers out of us?:rolleyes:

    Then there is marketing. They can make statistics and comparisons look very favourable. Depends of how you present them.

    Do they try to cheat us? I don't think so. Do they try to make things looks better than they are? Definately.

    My personal opinion is: If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. Keeping that in mind and some common sense saves a lot of money.
     
  6. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Dutchy, I agree with everything you're saying save one point. I do think some companies try to cheat us outright. There are 0-0-3 fertilizers out there with no micros that cost the same as flourish or TPN+. Not too long ago I found the MSDS on a product that actually only contained 10mg per 1,000L of K+. They've since altered it to a more honest product. ADA marks up about 100-200x from dry ferts at best.

    -Philosophos
     
  7. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    Well, maybe that's more about bad quality. If we have to pay a lot of money for bad quality, we will feel cheated. If that product costs less than half of a well known high quality product, what can I expect? Common sense will tell me that I'm probably getting a less quality product.

    So the price/quality balance is an important factor here.

    If they cost the same, I would feel cheated too however.
     
  8. bradac56

    bradac56 Prolific Poster

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    People get what they pay for, most consumer products are about convenience over all else so why would this hobby be any different?

    Outside of bulk food, water treatment products, and Excel I doubt there's much high-volume sales going on and until you can achieve that prices can’t go down so the majority of stuff will be one shot snake oil charms or things like good pumps or lighting that’s got huge price tags.

    There’s not a lot of commercial products that I buy anymore ~ Seachem Excel, ClorAm-X (dry powder bulk water conditioner), Ocean Nutrition flake foods, and dry ferts in regular shipments and a few one offs every once in awhile like Seachem Purigen and Pfertz bottles when one breaks (I refill them with dry fert solutions). I don’t even buy new tanks anymore I buy old cracked tanks and repair them. I know I’m not a good LFS customer since most of my dry goods or medicines are all done online and I haven’t bought a pet store fish in years so where’s the profit? Mom and Dad once a year buying a new goldfish or betta, which is pretty sad.

    I will say this is the only hobby I know of that the better hobbyist are the worst for the hobby. We rarely buy stuff, we get our fish from importers or club/BAP auctions and we generally hate pet stores ;)

    I also dabble in furniture grade woodworking and in that I'm a great hobbyist, you should see my tool collection.

    - Brad
     
  9. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    I'm not so sure Brad, the advanced hobbyist is bad for any hobby in terms of sales, but the concepts that they add always seem to be invaluable. I knew a guy who got a cease and desist letter from Wizards of the Coast for casting warhammer figures of his own. He also happened to be competent in making brilliant suits of SCA-approved armor. The experienced SCA member is notoriously bad for killing merchant sales by looking at people's wares and saying, "I'm going to make that" rather than, "how much?"

    I believe quality and convenience is something that should be had for a premium, definitely. I've just got issues with charging that premium and delivering something that never worked in the first place. Charging 50x what it should cost even after a healthy markup also annoys me.

    -Philosophos
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Paradise lost eh?

    Well, it is what it is.
    Gotta earn a living selling high, buying low.
    Cannot make lots any other way, a hard day's work for a hard day's pay gets beaten by a clever weasel:cool:

    Even my 7 yo newphew is a little cheat playing 4 square and teather ball last night. I still kicked his butt for it:)

    I know, I'm a big bully:p They all dog pile on me anyhow.

    If you can laugh about it, that's okay, when you cannot, then, perhaps.......might need to take a different approach. Haggle.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Many companies have taken my ideas and used them to promote and market their products. Seachem has, and they where very cool about it.

    Others where not.

    So it's a two edge sword.

    Many folks, particularly new hobbyist, do not want to DIY, or have this learning curve and experience we have(or do but without the effort). Still, we have gotten much better at DIY methods and the web makes it much easier to do and check.

    Then folks can make comparisons, fact check, compare which companies treat folks right. Hell, I got sued over bad mouthing the reality of poor service by a certain LFS company in NY state:eek:

    Greg Watson is interested in business ethics and has done a focus there.
    Ethics in general particularly bioethics are some of my own, my family is full of lawyers, so morals and legal stuff, rights, etc come up often.

    We are willing to make our case/s about the issue/s.
    We are human also.

    You fight and throw a jar of fleas on the unethical if you cannot beat them.
    You keep after them and stand up to the BS you see.
    You just do not let them get away with it.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  12. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    Sometimes it's really out of our hands. It's just that there are a lot of steps between the producer and the customer.
    Imported products get a tax surplus of 30% here. Plus there is the profit for the producer, the company that ships the goods, the government, the wholesale, the retailer and finally the customer buys it.

    That makes me pay $15 for a bottle of Seachem Equilibrium. I can feel cheated here too, but what can I do about it?
    Comparable European products like 500 ml of micros don't cost much less.
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Ask for a pay raise to pay for it:)

    Pass the cost on to your employer;)
    That's what they are all doing.
    You can join them or go live in a cave I suppose.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  14. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Sorry for the long post, Tom. I completely understand if you opt out of a ton of it. The blue colored bit may apply to things that matter more to you.

    Always. I can't remember when it wasn't; ethics only apply when qualia yeilds a theory of mind that's self serving. All the better if the perspective doesn't realize that what they are doing lacks consideration for the other. It's advantageous to take from another, as an individual or a group, to perpetuate a certain line. I believe this mindset is something we dumped off among intellectuals around the time eugenics showed its fault in regards to the life experience of the average individual.

    Well yes... until we stop and realize that pleasure is relative to our past experience, and that obesity of all things is a sign of poverty in developed nations. Meanwhile it's a sign of health and a preferable mate in developing nations, usually dependent on gender and matriachal/patriarchal dominance.

    Ya, that's group dinamics; the failure of moral/ethical (they're the same objectively) relativism :D

    The pattern is obvious though; if nobody can provide what you do, and you provide it for equal to or less than typical product markup, then withhold it. This general principle should avoid the sort of inflationary, future debt obsessed society that we've been relying on.

    And that's a damn shame by any measure. This is why I need to talk to you, Alan and Julia before I do more than covering my production cost in actual cash rather than hobby related credit. If there's any issue with this concept as hobby credit + cost, then I'd like to hear about it. For now it's hobby and restricted to a couple local stores, but I want to keep my ethics clean if things expand.

    Only because your opinion matters, and they have to influence one individual. They'd apologize if a number of customers with equivalent sway to your statements criticized them in an equivalent thread.

    I agree completely. The concept of free knowledge has gone through some nasty bumps, and everyone wants what ever they can get for free.

    Bioethics you say? :D I'd love to pick your brain on the topic some time.


    Isn't that what happens when someone into fancy headgear we don't recognize commits an iconoclasm based on their own understanding? Amazing how we never start from the beginning; a desire to live. The desire to thrive is only an extention there of IMO. In short, why would we throw fleas on someone who has already justified their own ethics? I support a prerequisite of direct heavy public dialog between both parties for a start, which is something we rarely see. I'm not counting prebiased sources where the mediator exists for the purpose of network spin.

    -Philosophos
     
  15. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Cause it makes me feel better:)
    Not about them at all.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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