The Los Angeles city attorney has accused four big stores of using pricing schemes by engaging in deceptive advertising. According to a KABC news report, the department store lawsuit alleges the JC Penney, Sears, Kohl’s and Macy’s engage in deceptive advertising by putting out a high “list price” or “regular price” on items that were never actually for sale at that original price.
The suit states that the practice makes customers believe that they are getting a better deal than they actually are. Under California law, businesses are not allowed to publicize a higher original price unless the product was actually for sale at that price within three months of the advertisement. The lawsuit is seeking civil penalties and injunctions to prohibit such practices in the future.
California Deceptive Advertising Laws
There are laws governing advertising in order to safeguard consumers from false or misleading statements that could be made in order to sell products. California Business and Professions Code Section 17200 defines unfair competition as, among other things, any unfair, deceptive, untrue or misleading advertising. California Business and Professions Code Section 17500 also prohibits false and misleading advertising.
In addition, California Civil Code Section 1770 lists a number of deceptive acts that are deemed to be unlawful such as advertising goods or services with the intent not to sell them as advertised and deliberately making untrue or misleading statements in advertisements. Under the law, fraudulent or deceptive advertisers in California could be hit with penalties including injunctions and/up to $2,500 for each violation of the law against deceptive advertising and up to six months in jail for each violation.
Relief for Consumers
If you are trying to recover the money you spent on a product or service after being misled or deceived by false advertising, you might consider filing a lawsuit in Small Claims Court. If you would like to research consumer complaints, you may wish to contact the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs with a Freedom of Information request.
If you believe hundreds or thousands of other consumers have suffered similar losses, then, you may be able to join a class action lawsuit. These types of lawsuits help hold the wrongdoer accountable while obtaining some monetary compensation for those who have suffered the losses. An experienced California class action lawyer can help you better understand your legal rights and options.