Have you ever wondered about false advertising and misleading marketing? Do you think CenturyLink is guilty of it? We explain how to report it and how to get compensation.
False advertising is sometimes known as misleading advertising or deceptive marketing. It refers to situations where a company promotes a business service or product or any aspect of their business interests with information that is misleading or false.
Rules about deceptive marketing and false advertising can be found in a collection of state and federal consumer protection laws. Most laws are governed by The Federal Trade Commission Act, which established the FTC in 1914, and has a section that has become known as “truth in advertising” rules. Companies according to the FTC rules for false advertising, for example, have to:
Sourced from the FTC with creative input from FairShake.
The FTC has a range of categories for false advertising one of which is the bait-and-switch. This refers to any situation where a company might offer incredible deals but the deals aren’t real at all. In fact, they might offer to sell products or services at a particular price point with no intent to ever sell them at that price point. Other examples include hidden fees where a company fails to disclose that even though you might be paying a low fee for a membership or a service contract, they’re also going to charge you things like equipment fees or maintenance fees.
CenturyLink has settled a lawsuit with Oregon, similar to a settlement they made with the state of Washington. In this, they agreed to pay $4 million to settle deceptive marketing practices. These practices include things like undisclosed fees, deceptive billing practices, and failing to apply promotions and discounts. As part of the Oregon lawsuit, CenturyLink has to refund 8,212 customers in Oregon over $672,000.
For the Washington case, the attorney general explained, “CenturyLink deceived consumers by telling them they would pay one price, and then charging them more,” Ferguson said. “Companies must clearly disclose all added fees and charges to Washingtonians. If you believe that a company has charged dishonest fees, please contact my office.”
CenturyLink has faced false advertising class action lawsuits having to do with unauthorized charges, routinely charging consumers more than what was advertised for services, and promising rates that they had no intention of following through with, all of which fall under the FTC definition of false advertising. Specifically, this claim alleges that CenturyLink promised fixed monthly rates for services, but then charged higher rates and added unauthorized charges regularly.
Again, just because you weren’t personally affected by the false advertising doesn’t mean you have to sit by and let CenturyLink engage in (intentional or unintentional) false advertising. Courts don’t even need a consumer to be affected in order to convict a company of doing it. This means that you can report it as soon as you see it.
To do that, your first step is to submit a consumer complaint to the FTC. The FTC wants to know about the situation so that they can investigate and take action against the company if necessary. You can also submit a complaint to TruthinAdvertising.org where it will go public.
What happens? Well, the FTC can ask them to stop, assuming they did it unintentionally. They can also fine them, or even sue them. In the most extreme of cases, usually repeat cases, there can be jail time. If you opted to file a complaint with TruthinAdvertising.org, it will go public so other potential consumers can see it.
However, if you were personally wronged, the rules for recourse will depend on your state’s laws related to Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices.
So, if you have lost money because of false advertising, other than reporting them, getting the company to make it right can be very time-consuming. If customer service can’t or won’t help you resolve the issue, there are other options like consumer arbitration.
Consumer arbitration is usually faster and cheaper than trying to go to court. However, it requires paperwork and deadlines, and can be a bit confusing. That’s where we can help. FairShake helps you navigate the consumer arbitration process, from filing your claim to getting the resolution you deserve.
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