The California Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) covers more than a dozen unlawful business practices. False advertising represents one of the most litigated statutes of the CLRA. However, many California consumers do not know about the deceptive advertising strategies unsavory businesses use to defraud and deceive.
Price deception is a common false advertising strategy that often goes unnoticed by consumers. Companies present inaccurate or misleading information in regards to product or service prices. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) mandates the full disclosure of product and service prices via advertisements on all media platforms. Merchants must also present sales, discounts, and rebates “in an honest way.” The CLRA includes language the bolsters the State of California’s legal powers set forth by price deception statutes enforced by the FTC.
The push for American consumers to buy American-made products has created a cottage industry of deceptive claims about product origin. As the busiest port of entry state in the United States, California deals with the most deceptive point of origin business practices. Under the CLRA, a manufacturer cannot claim it constructed a product within the United States, when in fact the product or most of the product parts originated in another country. The CLRA also offers consumers the legal remedy to pursue court cases against companies that make false quality claims. Misleading product quality claims include promoting product features that do not exist, as well as encourage consumers to use a product not designed for performing certain tasks.
Eco-friendly awareness has increased in the United States, and unethical businesses have taken advantage of the increased awareness by creating going green advertisements that only add to the green in their bank accounts. The FTC forbids businesses to make false or misleading environmental claims for products and services. Consumers that see terms such as recycled, biodegradable, and environmentally friendly should make sure science has backed up the claims. Going green claims are false or misleading even if some parts of a product are considered eco-friendly. Think of the recyclable aluminum inside of a box that is not recyclable. The company clams the product is recyclable, but part of it (the box) is not recyclable.
You see a great deal advertised online. When you arrive to the store to purchase the product or service, the product is either no longer available or the merchant has raised the price of the product. Known as bit and switch, an advertiser makes a specific claim about a product or service, with the intention of not selling the product as advertised. Whenever consumers respond to a great deal, bait and switch merchants try to sell them a more expensive product or sell the original product at a higher price. The FTC and CLRA consider bait and switch advertising illegal, if “the first contact or interview is secured by deception.”
Time constraints often accompany product discounts. Think of the common phrase “For a limited time only.” The CLRA protects consumers against deceptive time claims on product specials. Merchants must provide clear timelines for any special promotions run for products and/or services. “For a limited time only” does not cut the legal mustard under the CLRA. Read the fine print presented for any product and service to determine if a merchant has made a misleading time claim.
If you believe you are a victim of false or misleading advertising, contact our law firm to receive a free initial consultation that determines whether you have a case to file under the CLRA.