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Unfair trade practices come in many forms

On Behalf of | May 31, 2021 | Commercial Litigation

The latest sale at a popular store may be offering deep discounts. An item endorsed by a beloved celebrity has caught the attention of a consumer. When those realities are actually illusions created by business owners, they may be in violation of regulations governing Unfair Trade Practices.

Examples include:

Product guarantees – Enterprises that provide product guarantees must live up to their promises, especially when it comes to partial or full money-back guarantee that meets clearly communicated requirements.

Product endorsements – Securing an endorsement from a prominent company or individual is an essential promotional tool to hype a new product and provide it credibility. However, that potentially profitable “blessing” should be legitimate and factual.

Unfair/false advertising – Any type of “bait and switch” can ruin the reputation of both small and large companies. Unethical “strategies” can take various forms when they “bait and switch” their customers with deceptive pricing and exaggerated product claims.

Customer exploitation – Entrepreneurs start businesses for a variety of reasons. Some are only interested in targeting populations considered vulnerable. Oftentimes, these unfair practices involving telemarketing that targets the elderly and non-English speaking people.

Product misrepresentation – Misrepresenting products is one of the more complex aspects of unfair practices. When it comes to the verbiage that describes a product, all content must be accurate. Words such as “new,” “rejuvenate,” and “cure” must strictly abide by FTC regulations.

Misleading prices – “Limited time offers” should be just that, limited in the discounted price, two-for-one, or other aspects that would attract a customer to buy a particular product. The same standards apply for “Going Out of Business” sales, where a chain of stores remains open long after the so-called clearance event ended. In addition, discounts are about reducing prices, not just putting up a sign with what ends up to be the same price.

Any purchase of a product or service presents some risk. Laws are in place to hold businesses accountable for Unfair Trade Practices. Consumers should proactively take great care to know exactly what they are buying.