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False / Misleading Advertising
County Uniform Trade Standards make it unlawful to advertise or represent to the public any goods or services in a manner that is false, deceptive, untrue or misleading. The law outlines specific examples of unacceptable practices Section 8A - 108. For further assistance, please contact the Consumer Protection Hotline at 786-469-2333.
Ten Tips on False or Misleading Ads
- Misleading Advertisements - Advertising that is false or misleading is illegal. An advertisement that fails to disclose information, or that is ambiguous, partially or even literally true may be found illegal if consumers are deceived by it.
- Supply of Advertised Item - A store that advertises must have enough of the advertised item available at or below advertised prices to meet a reasonably expected demand. An exception is when the ad states a limit on the quantity of a certain item or a limit on the stores at which the item is available.
- Limiting the Quantity Sold - Unless the ad mentions a limit on the quantity of the item that will be sold to a single customer, a merchant cannot refuse to sell advertised items to customers in any quantity that the merchant has in stock.
- Bait and Switch - The law prohibits stores from advertising goods or services with the intent of not selling them as advertised. Bait and switch tactics take many forms. Examples are: using a picture that misrepresents the advertised item, disparaging the advertised item, or showing an item that is not suited for the purposes represented in the ad.
- Advertising Claims - Advertisers must be able to prove advertised claims that are supposedly based on facts, or claims that compare the product's effectiveness or safety with that of other brands or products. For example, if a car dealer claims to have the lowest prices in town, he or she must be able to support the claim. However, a more general "puff" statement, such as "low, low prices" does not have to be proven.
- Disclosure of Total Price - The advertised price of a product or good or service must be the complete purchase price. Adding extra charges to an advertised price at the point of sale is illegal.
- Advertisement of Used, Defective, or Irregular Items - If an item is defective, used, or irregular, the information must be conspicuously disclosed in the ad.
- Literally True but Misleading Ads - An ad that is literally true but misleading is unlawful. For example, if an advertisement says that an item is "Available through Sunday at only $5.99", and the article can be purchased from the advertiser after Sunday at $5.99, the ad is misleading, even though it is literally true.
- Advertising of "Former" and "Sale" Price - It is unlawful for a merchant to advertise a price as a "former" price, if the price was not the prevailing market price for a three-month period before the advertisement was printed or broadcast. It may be misleading for a merchant to advertise the former price in comparison to the "sale" price.
- Prizes - It is unlawful for a salesperson or an ad to tell you that you have won a prize, and that in order to receive it, you must pay money, buy a product or service, or make a donation.
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