As consumers, we exchange money for goods and services on a regular, if not daily, basis. When we purchase food at the grocery store, we expect the food to be edible and of high quality. When we buy a new car from a dealership, we expect it to be in top shape and last a decent amount of time. But what happens if these products do not live up to these expectations?
When businesses, manufacturers or other providers of goods fail to fulfill the promise of their products or mislead customers about those products, they are engaging in deceptive trade practices. Here in Texas, we have laws in place to guard consumers from such practices.
The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Consumer Protection Act protects consumers from breaches of warranty, false practices, misleading acts, deception and unconscionable acts. This can include behavior such as price gouging in a disaster situation! Here is what you need to know about Texas’ laws regarding deceptive trade practices.
False or Misleading Acts
Texas law defines a consumer as any individual who purchases goods or services. When a business or entrepreneur lies, deceives or misleads a consumer in order to persuade them to purchase an item or service, this is illegal. Some examples include the following:
- Passing off a good as something else (bait and switch)
- Purposely causing misunderstanding or confusion
- Explicitly stating ingredients, characteristics, benefits, connection or some other element that does not apply
- Misrepresenting a grade, standard or quality
- Misrepresenting the goods and services of a competitor with misleading statements
- False advertising in terms of price, quantity and product characteristics
- Offering rights or remedies prohibited by law
- Use of fraudulent schemes to entice consumers, such as “going out of business” sales
- Making false statements about repairs or the need for service
- Claiming that a product has been repaired or replaced when it has not
- Reducing the miles on an odometer, through resetting, turning back or disconnecting, to make a car appear to have fewer miles than it actually does
- Use of pyramid schemes
- Failure to disclose information that would have likely caused the consumer to not go forward with the transaction
- Taking advantage of a governor-declared disaster
- Selling or demanding an exorbitant price for necessities such as food, fuel or medicine
Breach of Warranty
A breach of warranty occurs when the product does not perform as expected. This expectation may come in the form of an actual written warranty. It could also come from a salesperson who claimed that your new boots would last at least several years.
An unconscionable act is one deemed grossly unfair toward the consumer. The seller takes advantage of the consumer’s lack of knowledge or ability in order to make a sale.
Taking Legal Action
Before filing a lawsuit, the consumer must first send a registered or certified letter to the seller advising of the situation. The letter must be specific in that it must advise the seller of the complaint and the amount of damages the consumer is seeking. If the consumer does not receive resolution within 60 days of receipt of the letter, the consumer can then proceed with filing a lawsuit.
Do not let dishonest businesses continue using deceptive trade practices to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. Contact our Sherman, Texas consumer protection attorney at David K. Wilson & Associates, Attorneys at Law. We have experience handling these cases. So, give us a call at (903) 870-9050 or fill out our online contact form to learn more about taking the next steps in your search for justice.