Based on this real scenario below is this lying or cheating in business?
providing a service, however
not having any in depth experience in any of the services provided, however
have knowledge of each service and how it works on a high level, therefore
advertising to potential prospects that ‘we can do xyz’, but then
Go find freelancers to carry out the project once a client is on board
May Allah bless you.
It depends on various factors. Sometimes it might be considered as lying and sometimes it may not.
For example, if you are leading the customer to believe that the service is provided by yourself, and this is the reason why they are paying you, then by outsourcing the service to a third party, you are effectively deceiving the customer.
However, sometimes an advert is exaggerated and any reasonable person would not believe it. This sort of advertisement is known as “puffery” and it is different to false advertising according British law…
I haven’t red anything from any scholar on the subject of puffery in Islam. However, I would advice on avoiding the practise as much as possible as it does not befit the character of a Muslim to say something that is not true.
And Allah knows best!
Ok this makes sense, however what if:
The services provided was always advertised as ‘we’ referring to a team. But then allocating the work to a company who has extensive working practice in the area.
Also when using case studies or portfolio is it possible to use a companies case study (which they have given permission to do) and white labelling it? As in putting your own brand name on. But then advertising it is your work but in actual reality it isn’t
I believe that it all depends on the industry and on the type of product/service offered to the customers. Also, what are their general expectations?
For example, iPhone is a US product and might be advertised as such. Even though, the displays are made in Japan and South Africa, sensors are from Taiwan, as well as other components made in Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands. All these raw materials are then assembled in China. Despite all these, for the customers, the iPhone is an American product and it can also be advertised as such. For the customers, the little details of the making of the iPhone do not really matter. Furthermore, Apple do not try to actively market the iPhone as a product made in the US with raw materials exclusively outsourced in the US either.
On the other hand, few years ago in France, restaurants were advertising the food they sell as “homemade cooked”. People were being largely deceived as what was being served to them, was frozen food made from factories.
The restaurants owners used a loophole to achieve this deception legally. The law now has changed, and you can only call “homemade” the food that is being cooked from scratch from raw ingredients.
Here we can see that, although the owners did something which was legally right, yet people felt deceived by what they did.
So for me from a shariah perspective, we need to assess each case individually. However, if you can have a disclaimer or mention somewhere, that services might be outsourced to others, then there will be no issue what so ever.