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Consumer Conspiracy

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This commercial pitch uses the approach of offering the consumer secret information that some industry "doesn't want you to know about". This can be investment tips the financial industry doesn't want you to know about. Miracle cures the medical industry doesn't want you to know about. Tax tips the IRS doesn't want you to know about. Even low furniture prices the other stores don't want you to know about.

You're not supposed to stop and think that these secrets are being sold over the mass media and if these industries really didn't want you to know about them, you wouldn't. Nor are you supposed to question why, say, "a mom from Suburbia" with no medical training knows more about curing or treating cancer than a board-certified oncologist.

See also The Man Is Sticking It to the Man. Sometimes overlaps with All-Natural Snake Oil and Spice Rack Panacea.


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  • Kevin Trudeau's "X They Don't Want You To Know About" series of books and infomercials. While pretty much every All-Natural Snake Oil peddler has made grandiose claims about being suppressed by "Big Pharma" and the FDA, Trudeau is one of the few that got called on his schemes while he was still selling vitamins. Because of those schemes, selling books is about the only thing he can do now — anything else would land him in jail again, due to restrictions put on him by the FTC and the SEC.
    • And land in jail again he has. In March 2014 Trudeau was sentenced to 10 years in prison for criminal contempt for violating prior court orders regarding claims in his infomercials.
  • A local law firm that specializes in disability rights literally starts with "I'm going to tell you a government secret."
  • Matthew Lesko, AKA "That guy in a suit borrowed from The Riddler" claims his book's full of money the US government's giving away and how to get it. There's only two problems with this: First, most of the information he's selling is in publications you can get for free from the government, and those documents are not secret in the slightest.note  Second, the reason most people don't know about these programs is that most people can't use them; they're meant for corporations, small businesses, and other organizations seeking grant money or startup capital. They often involve significant work in putting an application together, and also in subsequent reports to prove to the government that you are achieving the things that the grant is meant to promote. If you were looking to start a business, it might be useful, but you'd probably be better off going directly to the SBA for assistance.
  • Car filters that'll add miles to your gas's performance. In principle, it makes sense; if cars were super-efficient, less gas would be sold, meaning less money for Big Oil. In practice, it's idiotic; anything that involves magnets or forcefields won't work because magnets do not work that way, anything that "modifies the airflow for better performance" is pointless on modern cars because of computerized fuel injection, which isn't nearly as reliant on how the air moves to work, and devices that plug into the cigarette lighter won't be able to do anything but light up.note 
    • Uncle John's Bathroom Reader makes a very cogent point about those '1,000 Mile' filter claims: why would a car company sit quietly, for years, on a technology that adds hundreds of miles to an automobile's performance? It would make them a fortune on the open market, and since they could have a patent in a matter of months, it would give any of them a massive advantage over their competition.
    • Likewise, if your friend brags about the amazing gas mileage his car will soon get and shows you the copper-coil-in-a-Mason jar rigging he just installed under the hood, hold onto your monocle for this one: Your friend is an idiot.explanation 
  • Credit Counseling/Debt Consolidation services "the credit card companies don't want you to know about". Almost all legitimate credit counseling services are non-profits that are either directly funded or recommended by lenders, since they'd much rather you work out a deal than declare bankruptcy (in which case they'd get nothing), and rarely if ever charge for their services. Someone promising to completely erase your debt or "reset" your credit history, especially if they want a fee to do so, is likely engaging in fraud and may end up getting you in trouble.
    • A variant in the UK is ads for debt write-off services. These claim to be able to write off all debts taken out before 2007, either "thanks to a recent law change" or due to a "government scheme". All of this is lies; the worst that could be done is the debts are found unenforceable on a technicality, which is substantially different from a write off (the debt not being enforceable just means they can't take you to court over it, however you still owe the money and the bank can still mark you as having defaulted). Worse still, judges in cases that have gone to court have seen right through the intentions of people trying these technicalities and turned them down. Oh yeah, and this service costs money.
  • A variant is keeping that information from their own management: "We will offer these low prices until our boss catches on" or "While the finance department is on vacation we can offer these low prices" or (for a radio station) "Our boss is away so we can give away these really cool prizes". This requires some Willing Suspension of Disbelief to work — normally, buying from someone that's admittedly deceiving their boss would be iffy at best, but since they're being honest to you about it, it can't be that bad!
  • Especially during bleak economic times, this shows up in commercials attempting to sell "investors' kits" for the purchasing of stable commodities, particularly gold (at least in the United States). The pitch is that you're part of a wise secret club that's using information that those Wall Street fatcats don't want you to know about in order to make yourself recession-proof.
  • Questionable beauty secrets (tooth whitening, flat belly, etc.) advertised in Web banners and, always and always, "discovered by a mom in your town." Practically all of these are hard sells (often with sneaky "free trials" that become expensive subscription plans without your permission) for products that you can find much cheaper at the drugstore or megamart. The weight-loss products in particular are pretty much just bulk laxatives, and they won't actually help you lose weight.
  • From the Cable/Satellite Mudslinging file, DirecTV "hacks into" various cable channels encouraging alternative methods of viewing "that the cable company doesn't want you to know about". Since the channels themselves retain national advertising time, they are free to take ads from whoever they want. But this also means that it airs on non-cable televisions, in which cases it makes a lot less sense.
  • A constant stream of ads, TV specials, shows, and movies about how you can beat the casinos. The casinos fund or support most of them.
  • One banner ad is for a device with suitably impressive-looking switches, displays, buttons etc. that apparently generates free electricity, sold with the line "power companies hate this!".
    • There are numerous other examples of "Group X hate this/him/her," advertising things like tooth whitening, weight loss or foreign language lessons. Similar to the questionable beauty secrets, these are frequently discovered by a mom or someone similar, suggesting that the big companies know about easy ways to do 'whatever,' were hiding it and are somehow powerless to stop a regular person from blowing their cover.
      • Newsmax and other right-leaning websites have several advertisements about "Secrets liberals don't want you to know". Weirdly, you rarely see the opposite on Democratic Underground (though they have plenty of other "Group X hates this" advertisements, just none with "Secrets conservatives don't want you to know.")
  • The "Language professors hate him!" ads for the Pimsleur method. Dr. Pimsleur was a real person (who died well before such ads were made) who developed a real language learning method that many people do find effective. He did not, however, make any ridiculous claims like it being possible to learn a language in ten days, and there are plenty of language professors who do appreciate Pimsleur and his work. Some of his ideas are still the basis of foreign language acquisition research today.
  • A variant that's come up has been the 'weird trick' that enables you to lose weight, gain size in various intimate parts, pay off your credit card bill, banish diseases—and you name it. Newsmax has used this in a radio ad both alleging Obama Social Security cutbacks right around the corner and how to increase your monthly payments by using their 'weird trick'. The 'weird trick' in all instances of this seems to be that now, these adverts are not alleging a cover-up, so much as them accidentally gaining secret knowledge that even the conspirators haven't realized just yet. So in effect, you now have one up on them. Bypassing the target's defenses against claims of cover-up, these ads just say you were lucky enough to stumble upon this.
  • The "Doctors/Dentists/Dermatologists hate her!" variant usually used to peddle some face cream, diet aid, skin treatment or dental cosmetic improvement. The usual hook is that this was serendipitously discovered by some mother or housewife seeking to save money, uses cheap readily available ingredients, and that she is now sharing it with YOU, leading to teeth-grinding on the part of the experts. Errr... the "Doctors Hate Her" bit would only really apply in societies such as the USA, where healthcare is paid for upfront. It carries less force in places like the UK, where medical treatment is free at the point of need. And it all looks fake as Hell if the original American advert has not been completely retailored for the local market - ie a "mom from Liverpool" is saving $$$ on her treatment. Besides, if a housewife HAD found a cheap medical solution and found a breakthrough solution with no side effects, doctors might be more inclined to admire her?
    • Some of them doesn't actually makes sense like dermatologists hating her because her anti-aging cream. The implication being that the only source of income for dermatologists are helping people getting rid of wrinkles instead of, you know, ACTUAL health problems regarding the skin.
    • A variant is "Weight loss that scares doctors!", which sounds outright worrying.
  • A lot of small businesses claim to be the area's "best kept secret!" The implication seems to be that the only reason they haven't become world famous is because the locals don't want to share it with the entire rest of the world.
  • Ads or Infomercials that claim that the "secret" to making money is by selling timeshares. What they don't tell you is that timeshares don't appreciate in value the way that homes do: what you're literally buying is time at a resort, not anything tangible. So that timeshare you buy and resell, is likely to sell for far less than you paid for it, because it is not worth that much in terms of money. Timeshares are a great investment in happy memories, vacations to your favorite spot, time spent with loved ones, etc., and they can be good for people who want to have a vacation home but don't want to deal with maintaining a second or third home, but they are not great monetary investments at all. If what you're looking for is money, you're much better off flipping houses, not timeshares, and even that is still risky. note 
  • An increasingly common presence on the web is how the cost of various services such as equity release, retirement homes, funerals or whatever "might surprise you", suggesting that you are surely paying a great cost for these things now and you would save hundreds or possibly thousands if you just click on this link. These are quite often location-based so you can see an advert extolling the virtue of the cheap service in your home area only to see the exact same advert with a different location if you travelled somewhere, casting doubt on the validity of these apparently cheap services in the first place.
  • There are types of health-related adverts that have a tendency to promote a particular food as beneficial for your body and especially if you suffer from a particular disease or ailment like diabetes or arthritis. They often Appeal to Nature by detailing how this wonderful "new and natural" approach helps fight the root cause of your problem without any modern medicine or procedures, because Science Is Bad obviously and "Big Pharma" companies don't want you to know about this simple treatment. While changing your diet can be helpful for some conditions, there are many that cannot be helped by food alone and absolutely require some type of procedure or medicine if you actually want to get better. Also, the food in question changes every other day and you should take it every night before you go to bed. If one believed the adverts, you would eat absolutely nothing but these foods. Except we are then told they cause cancer and we shouldn't eat them, apparently depending on what day of the week it is.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Saw X: Cecilia Pederson and her father Finn pose as doctors who designed a revolutionary cancer cure, which they claim the pharmaceutical industry is trying to suppress in order to keep making money on expensive treatments that simply prolong people's suffering. In truth, they're con artists who put on an elaborate show for their patients but don't actually do anything, and had already been run out of their home country of Norway after their scam was exposed there. When John Kramer finds out that the treatment he spent thousands of dollars on and flew down to Mexico for was nothing but snake oil, he kidnaps Cecilia and her assistants, a bunch of local hoodlums who she hired off the street to pose as doctors and nurses, and forces them into his traps — some of which required using the medical knowledge they falsely claimed to have.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Deconstructed in the Lone Gunmen episode "Like Water for Octane", specifically the conspiracy theory that there exists an unlimited source of clean, free energy that the oil companies don't want you to know about because they want to protect the fat profits they make selling petroleum. The protagonists are searching for a mythical water-powered car that was allegedly suppressed by the energy industry for this reason. When they find the daughter of the car's inventor, she reveals to them that he destroyed it himself once he realized the hidden costs: namely, it would cause shortages of other finite resources as fuel that cost only a cent per gallon led to a new wave of consumerism and suburban sprawl. Including oil, because that's still needed to make asphalt roads, plastics, and synthetic rubber. Turns out, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch, and there's always a catch when something sounds too good to be true. The energy industry didn't want to destroy the car, they wanted to put it into production in order to keep the consumerist gravy train going even after peak oil.

    Western Animation 
  • Chuck Garabedian from The Simpsons episode "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo:"
    Are you tired of missing out on the good things in life - family vacations, jet packs, solid gold dancers? Well, stick around, 'cause I'm gonna tell you the twelve savings secrets Wall Street won't tell you. Then, I'll show you the three ways to get back to the highway, [sotto:] including one shortcut those Wall Street fat cats don't want you to know!

    Web Original 
  • In this issue of Employee Manuals called "Throw them a bone". Right after "as confusing as possible" part.