If you’ve been to or near the University of Vermont campus recently, you’ve probably noticed the large drapery covering the hilltop water tower. What is the reason for this condom-like sheath, and from what dangers or inconveniences does it protect us?
According to Robert Goulding, spokesperson for the Burlington Department of Public Works, the prophylactic measures are part of phase 2 of a project to rehabilitate the 500,000 gallon water storage tank. Begun in 2019, the project involves sandblasting previous coats of paint, including the original primer applied to the tank when it was built in 1954.
Because the 1950s paint contained lead, which can cause health problems ranging from upset stomach and irritability to seizures, birth defects and death, this phase of the work requires that the tank be covered with ‘a containment system called “wiring and tent”. A negative pressure ventilation system removes lead dust.
This phase of the project was scheduled to begin Aug. 3, with subsequent sandblasting and repainting expected to take about a month, but Goulding said work was behind schedule. Low temperatures and high winds could further delay project completion, possibly until winter.
“During phase 1 of the project, some residents told us about the noise impacts associated with mechanical equipment installed at the base of the reservoir site,” said Goulding. “We recognize that more residents can currently work from home. During phase 2, we work with the contractor to implement cost-effective noise abatement, such as the use of quieter equipment. ”
Andrew Pond from Burlington recently emailed us asking about the small, unreadable print that appears at the bottom of some TV ads, as well as the quick warnings added at the end of some radio ads.
“I think the worst offenders are the car dealerships on the radio and the law firms on the TV,” Pond wrote. “WTF? How are they doing? ”
First of all, let’s explain Why advertisers include disclaimers.
“The disclaimers you hear in radio commercials and see as text on the TV screen are triggered by consumer loan truth laws,” explained Wendy Mays, Director executive of the Vermont Association of Broadcasters, in an email. “Disclaimer rules vary by industry, but those that tend to have them include auto, pharmaceutical and mortgage lenders / brokers. There are also sponsorship warnings that broadcasters air for paid shows.”
Fair enough. But if you think such visual and verbal asterisks follow the letter of the law but not the spirit, you are not alone. In 2014, the Federal Trade Commission launched Operation Full Disclosure, which sent letters to over 60 companies, including 20 of the nation’s largest advertisers, warning them against deceptive and deceptive advertising regardless of their location. use of disclaimers.
Lesley Fair, senior counsel with the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau, wrote an online guide for advertisers clarifying the FTC’s “clear and visible” rule regarding legal disclosures.
“Consumers shouldn’t have to scan an ad with a magnifying glass to grasp the important details of the deal.” Fair wrote that they shouldn’t be “quick readers to get the message” either.
Fair criticized an advertiser for using a fully embellished, all-caps font for his disclaimer. “That may be fine for a heavy metal band logo,” she wrote, “but it’s not a presentation designed to convey critical information to consumers.”
Obviously, Fair loves her job.
So what are the FTC’s requirements for font, dot size, and on-screen and on-air disclaimer notice?
“We get these questions all the time,” Fair wrote in her primer. “A disclosure is considered ‘clear and visible’ if consumers notice, read and understand it. Do you really want the FTC staff to dictate the details of your ad campaign? She asked rhetorically. “We didn’t think so.
“If you are wondering how to create effective disclosure,” she added, “why not take a step back and think about what the need for disclosure can tell you.” Ouch!
In recent years, broadcasters have urged Congress and relevant federal agencies to allow ads to include a web link instead, eliminating the need to put verbiage in ads and making it easier for the public to read them at their leisure. .
“However, as in many areas of law, government has yet to catch up with technology,” wrote Scott Flick, communications attorney and partner at Washington, DC-based Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, by email.
In Flick’s view, such federal warrants are largely unnecessary to consumers and rob local broadcast stations of the revenue that supports their news and other operations. As he said, “It’s hard to sell a 30 second radio spot [when] the advertiser knows that he will have to make his message fit in 15 seconds to allow time for the mandatory legal notices. ”
Still, the quick talk and the fine print persist. There is even a disclaimer generator website where users can enter their business information and get a disclaimer in seconds. Without specific information about the company, disclaimergenerator.net concocted this one for Seven days: “All information on this site – sevendaysvt.com – is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. Seven days makes no warranty as to the completeness, reliability or accuracy of this information. ”
If only it was that easy.