The world that we live in today is surrounded by advertising. From the billboards on the freeway to the internet; even my child’s school newsletter had advertising in it. It’s something we can’t get away from. With some form of advertising lurking around every corner you turn, how do you know what is real and what is not? What can you do if you think you have been a victim of false advertising?
False Advertising is defined as, “Any advertising or promotion that misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities or geographic origin of goods, services or commercial activities” (Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C.A. § 1125(a)). Failure to disclose, flawed and insignificant research, and product disparagement are the three main acts companies can carry out to make themselves liable to a possible false advertising lawsuit. What does this mean in actual English? Basically, it is illegal for any company to state false, misleading or deceptive statements about their products.
Sales people are out to “close the deal.” In doing so, sometimes they use high-pressure sales tactics or even “bait and switch” advertising both of which can also be examples of false advertising. For instance, you see an advertisement for a new printer and the store is also offering a cartridge of ink with any printer purchase. Yet, when you arrive to purchase the printer, they are out of the “free” ink cartridges, causing you to have to purchase the ink cartridge at a much higher price after all. This may be a “bait and switch/while supplies last” scam.
Kellogg’s Kashi Brand recently got in trouble to the tune of $4 million in Florida and an additional $5 million in California, for claiming their product was “All Natural” when in fact their products contained GMOs. Class action lawsuits were filed in each state, and to resolve these lawsuits, Kellogg’s Kashi Brand settled. Red Bull will no longer “Give You Wings” after a class action lawsuit was filed for false advertising in New York. $13 million dollars went to unhappy customers of Red Bull who claimed they saw no difference in their concentration or reaction speeds as the advertisements stated. In another case of false advertising, a lawsuit filed in California against Chipotle is still pending; the woman who filed the lawsuit says that Chipotle was not accurate in their advertising “non-GMO ingredients”
Lawyers in Chicago who we work with on cases have sued Subway for their “foot long” not really being 12 inches or tire irons being advertised at 41 inches but really being 39 inches.
If you think you might be a victim of false advertising, there are a few things a good attorney will ask prior to accepting your case. Do you have a copy of the original advertisement? Whether the advertisement was in a newspaper, magazine, on the internet or TV it is important to have an original printed or recorded copy. When possible, pictures of the product or damage caused by the companies false advertisement is helpful. Lastly, do you know of other people who were harmed by the product or companies claims? If so you may be able to file a class action lawsuit.
There is no up front cost to hire an attorney to pursue one of these cases. If you think a business is ripping their clients off and would like to talk to a lawyer about false advertising, call us any time at (800) 517-1614 or fill out our contact form to the right of this page.