False advertising or marketing is any time a company states incorrect, misleading, or fraudulent information to you as the consumer (usually to get you to buy something).
The FTC defines false advertising below:
Sourced from the FTC with creative input from FairShake.
There are rules that govern false advertising, all of which exist at the state and federal level in the form of consumer protection laws. Most of these laws are governed by The Federal Trade Commission Act, which established the FTC in 1914. The FTC has the power to collect complaints and respond to them, as outlined in the US legal code.
Sourced from the FTC with creative input from FairShake.
The FTC categorizes a lot of different types of false advertising, the most common of which are things like mislabeling, where something on the product packaging or other labels are inaccurate, intentionally or not. The Bait and Switch is almost as common, as are issues like hidden fees where a company seemingly offers a deal but fails to tell you about extras like regular maintenance fees, or other fees.
The Community Viasat page has complaints about commercials for unlimited plans. What ends up happening is that these customers sign up with Viasat and then realize that the internet is not an unlimited plan and does not come with the speed advertised. Many of the community complaints have to do with the false advertising related to speed in particular. One customer said, “Viasat falsely advertises 25MPS. Never got anywhere near that … Snail Speed false advertising buncha liers”. The phrase snail speed comes up time and time again when referring to the actual speeds customers receive compared to the advertised speeds they will allegedly receive in the Viasat ads.
Another customer complained that the internet advertisements said you could get the service for $50 per month locked in for 2 years but the advertisement for the 2-year price lock on the website turns out to be a bait and switch with a lot of hidden fees.
The BBB page has dozens of false advertising complaints as well. One customer explained:
“My wife and I ordered ViaSat in November and we were told we would be billed $70.00 for 2 years for the plan we selected and we had thirty days and if we did not like ViaSat then we could cancel with no penalty’s as long as we returned the equipment. ViaSat sent a third party installer out to our home called 5 Star, who installed this incorrectly causing damage to our home. Also the internet was not working properly at all. When I called ViaSat, they told me I would have to pay &99.00 to have them come out and check what the issue was. They we were billed for over $100.00 which I was not expecting. When my wife called to discuss this with ViaSat, the man was rude and said “What? you think we’re expensive?” My wife and I were shocked the way that she was treated. We then called another company and set up service date with them and called ViaSat back and cancelled. They told us we had to pay an early termination fee and return the equipment. We argued with them and told them what we were told and said they apologize that we were given the wrong information, but there was no early termination fee. We ended up hanging up after we were told they would send a box to our house to send the equipment back. We did receive the empty box and sent the equipment back early January and then received a bill for $668.83 which, I’m not sure comes from what. This is a fraudulent company and has my social security # therefore can report me to the credit bureau. If ViaSat does not waive these fradulant fees, we will be forced to take them to small claims court.”
Another shared this:
“I first called ViaSat to hook up and I have it on recording I was promised Unlimited unlimited I inquired repetitively how about no data caps I was told at the point-of-sale there were no data caps turns out there are data caps I have contacted ViaSat in regards to this matter many times over now I’m getting .1 3 connections speeds when we go over that is not even enough for my children to watch Netflix I pay $200 a month for their unlimited Platinum the best of the best available in Florida I would not mind a data cap if my internet or cuffed at 10 megabytes per second enough that my children could still watch Netflix but the fact that I was lied to from the point of sale on words they have offered me a cancellation fee wave so I won’t be charged a cancellation fee I want what was promised to me in the first place I’m going to post the recording online I’m going to inform the world of their bad business practices I have contacted their legal department I have contacted many many times how about this data cap I am Canadian I am not from the United States in when I immigrated here I didn’t expect the first service I signed up for I’d be lied to about that leaves a real sour taste in someone’s mouth. I own my own Corporation this is not how I would conduct business if I found an employee promise something I would make sure to meet that promise. I ordered and agreed to no data cap from the point of sale that is what I expect I do not agree with any other of their underwriting any of their other little kitten things in the contract when a customer is promised something that is by definition a binding verbal contract that is the contract in which I expect to be upheld thank you.”
Consumers like you are a big part of what makes the FTC so effective. The FTC does not require that anyone, yourself included, actually be affected by the false advertising in order to charge Viasat for false advertising or at the very least, investigate them.
So, you can report the company by submitting a consumer complaint to the FTC. By filing a formal complaint, the FTC can investigate Viasat. You can also submit a complaint to TruthinAdvertising.org where it will go public.
But, if you were wronged by false advertising, the rules that govern how you can get compensation will depend on your state’s laws related to Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices.
What happens to Viasat is up to the FTC which can issue a variety of penalties to Viasat from a simple letter demanding that they fix the issue to a significant fine.
What does this mean for you? It means that if you lost money because of Viasat and false advertising, you should report them but any follow up fines issued by the FTC won’t make it in your hands necessarily. So you can try to reach out to Viasat customer service but if they are not willing or able to make things right, there is still one option left: Consumer arbitration.
Consumer arbitration is usually faster and less expensive than going to court. However there is still paperwork and deadlines, because it is a legal process and that can get complicated. 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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