False advertising, sometimes called misleading advertising, is any instance where a company promotes a product or a service that’s either misleading or false.
The rules about deceptive marketing and false advertising can be found in a collection of state and federal consumer protection laws. Most laws, however, 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. These rules give the FTC jurisdiction to respond to complaints about false advertising from individuals or businesses. Some examples of the rules outlined in that section are:
Sourced from the FTC with creative input from FairShake.
There are many different types of false advertising as defined by the FTC. The most common is having incorrect or misleading information on a product label but companies are also often reported for having false reviews, disparaging a competing product without any information or legality behind that, charging customers hidden fees, and failing to disclose information.
Frontier Communications has been sued for false advertising, due to instances of customers facing hidden fees, and not just small hidden fees. One customer alleges that she was told by Frontier Communications that her bill would be $69 per month for her phone and TV but then her bills were more than $425 because of hidden fees. These amounts ended up contested, sent to collections, where the plaintiff claims she was harassed and suffered emotional distress and anxiety from the Frontier Communications collections department and their treatment of her.
Frontier Communications was forced to change some of their ads after the National Advertising Division demanded they change false information, including things like:
The problem is, Frontier Communications left 2 of the requirements on their site and continue to falsely advertise to customers.
This has contributed to the over 360 complaints on their BBB page about false advertising. As one customer explained:
“On January 17th 2020 I got an email advertising Frontier 500/500 FIOS that said that if I ordered online I would get a $100 **** Reward Card. I ordered online (Order #: *********) and checked the status of the order each day. After a day or two I noticed that the order seemed to be stuck in a processing state. On or about January 24th 2020 (morning) I contacted Frontier and they told me that the order was stuck in “provisioning.” They told not to worry as they had sorted it out and my installation would go ahead as planned. The installation did go ahead as planned, but I never received anything to do with the $100 **** Reward Card. I called in soon after my installation to see how to claim the $100 **** Reward Card, and was told that I would be contacted after 90 days. It’s now over 90 days, so I called Frontier again and was told that there isn’t any record of the $100 **** Reward Card on my account. I believe that the changes that Frontier made to my order resulted in my original order being canceled and a new order being entered (without the $100 **** Reward Card being mentioned). Frontier use an outside company (FrontierRedemptions.com ###-###-####) to process the Reward Cards. I have called this company and left a voice message and emailed them, with no response as yet. I feel that I shouldn’t be out $100 because Frontier had to fix an order in their system”.
That same issue with incentives and promotions never being applied is seen over and over again with another customer explaining:
“When signing up for Frontier back in August of 2019, I was promised an incentive that upon signing up for their internet services, I would be receiving a $100 gift card and a 1 year ****** ***** subscription. After calling a couple weeks later to inquire about those incentives and when i would receive them, I was told that we had to wait a 3 month period first which was not explained to us at the time of signing up. I waited to call back after that 3 month period and was then told that they would send me an email with a link at that very moment for the ****** ***** subscription and that the $100 gift card would be coming in the mail by the end of the weekend. That did not happen. I called back 3 more times and was told by various representatives that either these incentives would be mailed out or that they were already on their way. It is absolutely unethical and irresponsible to gain customers through incentives that are not fulfilled. It is 9 months later and I still have not received either the gift card or the ****** ***** subscription. I am beyond appalled at the lies and misinformation.”
Now you know what false advertising is, but what can you do about it? The courts do not require that anyone actually be affected by the false advertising in order to convict a company of doing it. This means that you don’t necessarily have to be a victim of false advertising or misleading advertising in order to report it.
But if you have been taken advantage of by false advertising or you have seen a company using these deceptive marketing tactics, 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. Again, they might fine them, sue them in court or anything else. You can also submit a complaint to TruthinAdvertising.org where it will go public.
However, if you have been wronged by false advertising, the rules pertaining to how you can get recourse will depend on your state’s laws related to Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices.
That depends on the severity of the false advertising or misleading advertising. The competition act applies to all businesses and in cases where a person or business knowingly or recklessly misrepresents to the public their products or services or any aspect of their company, they can be liable for up to a $200,000 fine or one year in prison. Corporations can face penalties up to $100,000 and all of these fines can double or triple for subsequent occurrences.
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 Frontier Communications customer service can’t or won’t help you resolve the issue, there are other options. One of those is consumer arbitration.
Consumer arbitration is usually faster and less expensive than going to court but it can still be a bit confusing because it is a legal process with a fair amount of paperwork. 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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