Enacted in 1973, the Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) is intended to protect consumers from:
- False, deceptive and misleading acts of practices in the conduct of trade or commerce, and this also covers insurance practices
- Unconscionable actions, which the DTPA defines as “an act that takes advantage of a person’s lack of knowledge, ability, experience or capacity of a person to a grossly unfair degree”
- Breach of the warranty
With the help of a consumer protection lawyer, a consumer – an individual or a business with assets of less than $25 million – can file a lawsuit against a manufacturer or provider of goods and services. Intent or knowledge of a violation is not required when proving a case of deceptive trade practices. But if there was intent, the consumer could be awarded additional damages.
Illegal Acts and Practices Under DTPA
The Deceptive Trade Practices Act lists 27 specific prohibited advertising or trade practices. Some of these violations are too complex to explain fully in a short list. See section 17.41 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code for more complete information or talk to a consumer protection attorney who can explain the Act in greater detail.
- Advertising or representing goods or services under another name than that of the manufacturer/provider
- Advertising that causes confusion or misunderstanding about the source of goods or services, the sponsorship or approval of goods or services, or the certification of goods.
- Advertising that causes confusion or misunderstandings about the affiliation or connection of goods or services with another organization or person. For example, some businesses advertise in a manner very similar to another business and have a similar name, causing consumers to connect the two. Some companies have a name that suggests they are an arm of government when they are not.
- Advertising that misrepresents the geographic origin of a product
- Advertising with false claims regarding sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits or quantities
- Advertising or representing that a product is new when it is used or reconditioned
- Advertising that a product or service is of a particular quality or standard when it is not
- Making false or misleading representations about the goods, services or business of another
- Advertising goods or services to get someone in the door but then providing a different product or at a different price. This is also called Bait and Switch.
- Advertising a low-priced product of which the seller has only a few and then offering people a more expensive one that is in stock. If the seller says the product is limited, then it is not a violation.
- Misleadingly stating the reason for a price reduction, such as, for example, the store that is always going out of business.
- Making false or misleading statements about a written contract.
- Making false or misleading statements about that work or parts are needed for repairs when they are not
- A salesperson misrepresenting the extent of their authority to negotiate the terms of a transaction
- Basing the charge for a repair on something other than the value of the actual work done, without breaking out that charge on the bill
- Disconnecting or resetting the odometer on a vehicle
- Falsely claiming to be going out of business
- Falsely, misleadingly or deceptively advertising or selling or distributing a prescription drug ID card which offers a discount from a 3rd party provider but which is not evidence of insurance coverage except under certain conditions.
- Employing a chain referral sales plan in which a prospective buyer will receive a benefit if they refer other people and those people later take an action
- Representing that a purchase comes with certain warranties or rights when it does not
- Promoting a pyramid scheme
- Representing that parts have been replaced or repairs made that were not
- Creating an obligation to pay money from a consumer transaction in a county other than were the buyer resides or where they signed the contract
- Withholding information in order to induce a consumer into a transaction they would not have entered into if they had had accurate information
- Using the term corporation or incorporated for a company that is neither
- Taking financial advantage of a government-declared disaster
- Selling, trying to sell or promoting an annuity contract with the intent that it will be subject to a salary reduction agreement or is not an eligible qualified investment
Compensation for Victims of Deceptive Trade Practices
Consumers who are successful in bringing a lawsuit for deceptive trade practices can recover financial damages of varying amounts, depending upon the type of practice and whether it was intentional. They can also be compensated for mental anguish and may be awarded court costs and reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees.
The Fell Law Firm represents consumers and businesses who have fallen victim to deceptive trade practices in the Dallas-Richardson-Plano area. Mr. Fell can review the facts of your case and advise on the best option to move forward. Call 972-450-1418 or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation.