Transcript for Shoppers Beware: Misleading Advertisements and Shady Sales Tactics
Over the last year on "20/20," we've covered everything from misleading and fake products to those advertising for them. And big boasts, versus the bitter reality. So tonight, how not to get fooled. Once again, Rebecca Jarvis. Reporter: We're blowing up these banzai brand kiddie pools to show that what you see isn't always what you get. And while their boxes list actual dimensions, the fun filled photo is what grabbed these 4 to 6-year-olds' attention. Spacious and full of kids. 3, 4, 5, 6. Reporter: But they're about to get a grown-up lesson about a shady sales tactic -- the photo fakeout. People will lie and exaggerate. And you have to be able to recognize it. Reporter: Advertising critic bob Garfield warns, shopper beware of these tactics. As for our group -- they've now seen this photo that was once used on the banzai wild waves water park box. So, how did it match up against the real thing? Okay, are you guys ready to see this pool? Yeah. Never mind. Reporter: Okay. Bad start. Still, they make the best of it. Splashing and playing. Then try to go down the slide. In the photo, notice the child has plenty of room to throw her hands in the air. But in reality -- I'm too big for this. To put your arms up you'd have to be like my baby brother. How old is your baby brother? Three months. I thought it was going to be bigger. But it's actually not, it's smaller. Reporter: Anyone who's outgrown their underoos needs to know about this next shady ploy. The sale fail. Exhibit "A," these signs were pushing great deals in hobby lobby stores. That looks fabulous. 50% off. I would be willing to buy that, yes. Reporter: Not so fast, said the New York attorney general. These supposedly sensational sales were actually offered every single day, for at least a year. How can it always be 50% off the marked price? That's not a sale. That's a little misleading. Reporter: While not admitting guilt, hobby lobby paid a That's right! Reporter: Our next secret of the sell? The tiny type hiding behind big hype. Like this sears ad. Promising an "Extra 15% off all appliances with sears card." You're ready to shop. I am. Reporter: Do you want to see the fine print first? Yes. Let's do that. Reporter: Well, clear your schedule, because as the website mouseprint.org found last year, there's a sea of fine print below that "15% off all." Excludes jenair, Kenmore over, ranges. It keeps going on and on. All of these are exclusions? What can I buy? Reporter: Sears quickly corrected what they called an "Inadvertent error." Next, a new twist on an old trick. The bait and switch. When Ashley Madison, that website for affair-seeking adults, was recently hacked, know what else was revealed? That tens of thousands of female profiles were -- sorry, dudes, fembots. Invented by crafty computer programmers. Another dating site with a slippery sales come-on? Flirtcrowd. The ftc said the site had baited men with the promise of meeting thousands of women, for free. And once they signed up, the messages started flowing from sexy singles. Looking for some fun. Loves to meet hot guys. Would like to try anything at least once. My faith and my conservative values are huge parts of who I am. This lady has the dirtiest picture I've ever seen. But try to read their tempting messages? Then flirtcrowd pulled the switch. It tells me I have to upgrade to read this message. That upgrade from free could cost as much as $77 a year. Free is not always free. Sometimes it's the most expensive thing you do that day. Reporter: And what fun-seeking females did we meet when we did pay? 37 women contacted us, but all were fake. Flirtcrowd called them "Virtual cupids," marked by that tiny logo. But you might not have known they were fake unless you read the fine print the government made them add, warning "Virtual cupids" are not real people. Why would I want to flirt with a virtual person? Reporter: The ftc fined flirtcrowd $600,000, though the company didn't admit guilt. They told us they have many real-life female members, and offer refunds to anyone left confused. Some companies make a joke out of their ad claims. $220,000 S Hobby lobby -- kind of sloppy lobby. Reporter: And here's another sale fail. To St warayand M cuddly, it's time to get on your snuggie. That's right! Reporter: Even if you would actually wear a snuggie in icpublu , yod could thaveoohe wl pulled over your eyes if you attention. Call right now. We'll give you a second snuggie and book light free. Just pay processing and handling. Reporter: $20 for two. Ea graldetit unu', yoitl hre and
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