False Advertising: What Consumers Need to Know About Deceptive Advertising Practices
State and federal law prohibit manufacturers, retailers, and companies from using misleading tactics or false and deceptive advertising practices to increase their sales and profits. A consumer who has been a victim of deceptive advertising practices can seek legal recourse by contacting an experienced consumer fraud lawyer.
Most states, including Florida, adopted the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which regulates deceptive trade practices. Under the Act, consumers and government entities can file false advertising lawsuits against businesses that engage in deceptive advertising practices.
What Are False Advertising Practices?
False advertising practices are defined as any misleading, deceptive, or false advertising of any kind that has the intention to deceive consumers. An advertisement may be deceptive if the manufacturer, retailer, or another company makes false statements regarding:
- The price of a product or service;
- The quality or quantity of a commercial good;
- The purpose of a product;
- The standard of the product or service;
- The location and date of production of the product;
- The manufacturing process;
- Warranties; or
- Deals or sales.
Under state and federal law, a company can face a false advertising lawsuit even if it did not intend to deceive the consumer. In other words, businesses can be convicted for deceptive advertising and face penalties even if the misleading or false advertising claim was made by mistake.
Deceptive Advertising Tactics
State and federal law recognize various forms of deceptive advertising tactics employed by companies to boost their sales and increase profits. The most common tactics include:
- Bait and switch advertising. Offering a product or service for a low price to trick a consumer into buying a more expensive product or service. When a potential customer attempts to buy the low-price product or service, the company claims that it is not available and offers a costlier alternative.
- High-pressure sales tactics. Putting a significant amount of pressure on a consumer to make them buy a product or service they did not intend to buy in the first place. For many consumers, saying “yes” is the easiest way to escape a stressful situation.
- Misleading consumers about quality or origin. A company is engaging in deceptive advertising practices when it makes false statements about the quality or origin of the product.
Exceptions to False Advertising
Some companies and individuals cannot be sued for engaging in consumer fraud. Under the 15 U.S. Code § 54, consumers may not file a false advertising lawsuit against the following entities:
- Radio-broadcast licensees
- Television stations
- Advertising media
- Radio stations
The above-mentioned entities cannot be held liable for consumer fraud if they had no knowledge that the advertising was false or deceptive. However, the exception applies only if the exempt entity refuses or is unable, on the request of the government, to disclose the name and address of the U.S.-based company that caused them to distribute deceptive advertisements.
A victim of deceptive advertising practices may be able to seek compensation and recover the money they paid for the product or service that was falsely advertised. Contact a Sarasota consumer fraud lawyer at Suncoast Civil Law, to review your particular case and help you file a false advertising lawsuit against an individual or company that engaged in deceptive trade practices. Call 941-366-1800 to receive a consultation.