October 17, 2019

And the lies go on . . .

Did you know that shiny new wood-style flooring you pulled up the ratty old carpet for can kill you? If you've covered your rooms with laminate from major discounter, Lumber Liquidators, you're likely living with formaldehyde exposure levels of seven- to up-to-20 times federally recognized “safe limits.” (While California recognizes no emission of this cancer-causing carcinogen as safe.) Chinese plant managers have said as much publicly in a recent 60 Minutes expose on TV.

They can, of course, build a safer product, they added, but that would significantly raise costs and lower company profit margins. As for the CARB Phase 2-compliant inspection sticker slapped onto each boxed shipment  . . . well, they just paste it on as instructed. It's a lie. And that lie has allowed a dangerously poisonous substance into the unsuspecting homes of hundreds of thousands of consumers throughout our country. The risk is greatest for babies and children — where constant exposure to leaching formaldehyde can cause lifelong asthma and lung infection — but when it comes to optimum health, this toxin affects us all.

So while that fancy new floor you just installed may look fresh and clean, you now know looks are deceiving. For more deceptive “looks,” you need go no further than your local Outlet Mall. Think you're a smart shopper by frequenting the “outlet” for discounted designer dresses, handbags and shoes? Think again. Ever wonder why your bargain-priced clothes tend to split at the seams, or never hang just right? Sure, the names on the labels are the same as those seen in high-end stores, but that's where the similarity ends.

The “official” story is that items for sale at outlets are there because of over-ordering, seasonal shipping delays, or simply leftover stock. It's what these stores want you to believe — but it's all a lie. No way will you find ANY of your outlet bargains at a regular department store or licensed boutique because this product is not a discounted leftover designer item at all. It was tailor-made just to fool you.

Yes, massive quantities of garments of inferior fabric, construction and mediocre design are factory-produced daily specifically for “outlet” distribution. And yes, they all receive that final “designer finish” of a sewn-in, name-brand label so that consumers like you think you're getting the real thing at a hefty discount. Smart, huh? For fashion houses, it's almost like manufacturing their own, illegal knockoffs to be sold to the gullible masses at large profit margins. For higher quality and value you'd do better shopping at ordinary, budget-priced venues like T.J. Maxx or Target.

Lying for profit isn't limited to flooring and attire. Concerned about the environmental impact and quality of the foods you eat? It's time you took a closer look at the fat and “soy isolate” listings in popular nutrition bars. This artificially created soy ingredient may boost the “protein” numbers in your favorite Clif bar, but it's hardly good for you. Most soy-based products, in fact, are derived from genetically modified soybeans that come with a horror-movie list of possible side effects. For lower cost, calories and real-nut protein, you might as well grab a Snickers!

Now that McDonald's has announced they will begin serving antibiotic-free chickens, you might shout: Hurray! I can run out and get some guilt-free, good-for-me nuggets now! Not so fast. The company is likely counting on people like you who don't read beyond the headlines. Their announcement is merely a decision on a new approach that won't take full effect until the year 2020, at the earliest — when they'll have turned over the feed and poultry systems from their thousands of suppliers. Did you really expect them to simply dump all their less-healthy, antibiotic-ridden chicken breeding stock in one clean, money-losing, swoop? Even though they're now reaping millions in free “green” publicity?

How do companies like these get away with it? Should we sue? . . . Do we need a lawyer? I think Shakespeare got it right when he had a common butcher rail against unscrupulous attorneys in Henry VI: “The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers!” Ever been party to a major class action suit? (Sure you have. Most of us have unwittingly been listed as plaintiffs, only to receive a check in the mail for a paltry few dollars.) Who makes the millions? The lawyers, that's who. Every time I've had occasion to speak to a lawyer and trusted they would do what they say and have my back, I've been sorry. Quite simply, they lie; though when confronted, they'll say they simply withhold information they feel their client isn't ready to handle.

From suing a surgeon for malpractice, to obtaining visas and citizenship documentation, I've been lied to by lawyers both here and abroad. Oh, pardon me, they didn't “lie,” they merely encouraged me by stating I had a great case . . . until timing, or details, or monetary restitution suddenly decided I didn't. And they always waited until it was too late (or I was too fed up) to seek legal advice elsewhere. Although I have a feeling that wouldn't have made a difference — as they're all the same: Out to get the most they can for themselves and string you along as long as it looks like a simple effort on their part.

Pay or no pay, when things get complicated, they'll decide you aren't worth their time and give you the boot. Oh, they are most apologetic when suddenly enlightening you as to the sudden slew of complications that make your case so difficult . . . and unwinnable. So why didn't they tell you all this in the first place and not waste your hopes and time?

Here's my hard won takeaway. Buyer beware — all the time. Lawyers lie. Manufacturers lie. Food and clothing distributors lie. I've been told by renters, who rarely see a return of their security deposits, that landlords often lie as well. Investment counselors are trained to lie to keep you from leaving their company's clutches. But we're smart. We can tell when someone's lying to us. Or can we? Perhaps the lies we tell ourselves are the most dangerous lies of all.

© 2015 Mindy Leaf

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