Q: Will it be correct to use a marketing “catch line” that is not applicable to that type of trade e.g. a person selling motor vehicles that he owns or a company selling foreign currency that it owns, markets the sale of these products as a “zero percent commission” sale when in fact commission is not applicable in this sale as there is no agency involved. This however creates the impression of an excellent deal psychologically.
A: Yes, it is correct.
And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.
Q: My question refers to the zero per cent commission query. As per common business practice, by way of example, if a transaction is subject to vat at zero per cent, this effectively implies that value added tax is applicable to this transaction, however at a zero rate. Similarly by stating that there is zero per cent commission in a deal, the seller is effectively stating to the buyer that this deal is subject to commission, however in this deal, it is an excellent zero per cent. Whilst the deal may be technically valid in shariat, it appears that the seller is not being entirely honest by misrepresenting that the deal is subject to commission when the deal is not subject to commission at all. Will it be ethically correct for a seller to adopt such a marketing strategy considering a Muslim’s conduct should be the epitome in demonstrating integrity, honesty and transparency especially in business dealings?
A: We cannot reconcile in the following sentence: “misrepresenting that the deal is subject to commission when the deal is not subject to commission at all”. Could it be elucidated.
1) By claiming that a simple, profit only based transaction is subject to commission constitutes misrepresentation of the substance of the contract.
2) My humble further considerations with regards to this question:
2.1) Innocent purchasers depend heavily on the information provided to them especially by upright muslim traders. If a transaction, in reality, is a commission based transaction, then a zero percent advert will very meaningfully convey the message of an excellent deal.
2.2) However if it is a simple profit only based transaction, then by stating zero per cent commission will only have the effect of swaying the decision of an innocent buyer by believing an incredible deal on offer.
2.3) It will be impossible to make اعمال of the kalaam of the بايع of the existence of commission in a transaction where the element of commission does not exist at all.
2.4) This is just one example of many others that can be used to convince the average uneducated consumer into believing something to be a bargain.
2.5) It appears to go contrary to the شان of an honest upright muslim businessman to employ such methods of advertising. Is it ethically correct to employ such marketing strategies?
A: Employing marketing strategies that are misleading or deceiving is not right. It is not in keeping with Islamic trade ethics.
And Allah Ta’ala knows best