January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Commercials Discourage Online Shopping

The Village of Niles, Ill., has started an advertising campaign promoting retail shopping in the village, pointing out what it says are the "hazards" of Internet shopping. Believed to be the first effort of its type in the country, the commercials are being run on cable stations in the northern suburbs and northwest side of Chicago. "The Village has always supported its retailers, and this seemed like a timely way to provide help for our merchants," says Mayor Nicholas B. BlasŽ. "We've heard an ever-increasing number of complaints about Internet fraud, and felt obligated to inform people of the risks of Internet shopping." He adds that it is "a fiscally responsible thing for us to do." Local governments are being deprived of sales tax revenues, he says, due to the federal moratorium on Internet sales taxes. Two different commercials have been produced. "Expert" introduces a series of facts about Internet fraud and other problems, including getting the wrong item, being disappointed in the quality of an item, paying unexpectedly high shipping and handling charges and having problems with returns. "Man on the Street" features ordinary consumers at Golf Mill Shopping Center, a major regional mall, commenting on the pros and cons of retail versus Internet shopping. Emphasis is placed on getting your product immediately, rather than waiting for a package to arrive. The 30-second commercials will run on such high visibility cable programming as NFL Football, The Summer Olympics, Lifetime Original Movies, as well as a spot schedule across six cable networks.

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