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.
In the event a consumer is misled or tricked into buying something and it does not perform as expected, this is called a deceptive trade practice. Texas is just one state in the nation that has laws in place to protect 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.
False or Misleading Acts
A consumer is defined as someone 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. Contact the Sherman, Texas law firm of David K. Wilson at (903) 870-9050 to learn more about the next steps if you’ve been the victim of deceptive trade practices.