Consumer fraud is a vast legal field touching on false advertising, unfair competition and various other forms of deceptive commerce. Cole & Van Note has significant background prosecuting fraud, breach of contract, unfair competition and false advertising claims. Our team is constantly investigating consumer complaints and, where they exist, we move fast and aggressively to correct them. Breach of contract and fraud claims are fairly intuitive and easy to understand. Unfair competition and false advertising claims can be a little trickier, and deserve further explanation:
Unfair competition is a very broad term and can concern virtually any activity performed with the intent of damaging free commerce. Common examples are businesses selling products for below their own cost, price fixing or “tying” practices whereby a business agrees to sell a desired product only if the buyer purchases another, otherwise unwanted product. Unfair competition is illegal under various California state and federal laws and can carry heavy penalties. It may also, in some situations, be a crime.
False advertising can be defined as any untrue or misleading information provided by a seller to the public/consumers for the purpose of selling them something, or inducing consumers to visit the seller’s physical or virtual location. Common examples of false advertising include:
- “Bait and Switch”: Advertising a product or service at a low price, but with no intention of honoring that price
- Misrepresentations as to quality: Advertising that a product can perform in a particular way when it clearly cannot
- Misrepresentations as to quantity: Advertising a product at a discounted price while knowingly under-stocking the advertised item. The law requires sellers to stock enough of an advertised item to meet reasonable customer demand
- “Greenwashing”: Providing misleading information to consumers in order to create a false perception that products are “green” and/or “environmentally friendly”
We represent only the injured parties in these types of litigation. So, if you have purchased goods or services and believe you have gotten something less than that for which you bargained, check out our blog posting on this issue and then contact us for a free consultation and to get answered any questions you have.