Problem with your service or products? Wondering if LA Fitness is guilty of false advertising? We explain what it is, how to report it, and what your legal options are for compensation.
False advertising, sometimes called misleading advertising, is when a company uses false or misleading information to get you, as the consumer, to buy a product or service.
Misleading advertising can be very bad economically, especially if it hurts a large number of consumers or is allowed to take place over a long period of time. This can also hurt competing businesses who are trying to engage in honest advertisements.
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. Some examples of the rules outlined in that section are:
Sourced from the FTC with creative input from FairShake.
The FTC has a handful of different categories for the types of false advertising, the most common of which is mislabeling. This can be as simple as putting something on a product label that isn’t true, like “made in America” or something more dangerous like failing to list possible health complications.
One class action lawsuit against LA Fitness tells a lot of tales. In this class action lawsuit, the plaintiff alleges that LA Fitness pressured a lot of consumers into signing up for annual gym memberships, by misleading those consumers into believing that they were only obligated to pay for a single month of membership. They used high pressure sales tactics, continued to charge even after consumers tried to cancel their membership, and misled customers and incentivized them to purchase longer memberships. This is a common allegation for fitness companies, and in this case the plaintiff says she would never have entered into a membership if she had been presented with the truth. This class action lawsuit asserts that LA Fitness violated California’s unfair competition law, the false advertising law for California, and the deceptive and unfair Trade Practices Act of Florida.
This is not the only class action lawsuit having to do with this exact same issue. Another plaintiff sued LA Fitness for the exact same membership scam and false advertising. Beau Briones sued LA Fitness for pressuring consumers to agree to annual memberships by misleading them into believing they were only obligated to pay for one month of membership, and then, regular withdrawals were made from accounts even when consumers tried to cancel their membership. In this particular complaint LA Fitness is accused of violating:
In this case, they reached a settlement for their false advertising, but consumers still post complaints about similar issues of false advertising on their BBB page.
Remember, you don’t need to have been affected by the false advertising in order to convict LA Fitness of doing it. You can report it just by witnessing it. Start by submitting a consumer complaint about LA Fitness to the FTC. The FTC wants to know about the situation so that they can investigate and take action against the company. You can also submit a complaint to TruthinAdvertising.org where it will go public.
But if you have been wronged, the recourse available to you for compensation will depend on your state’s laws related to Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices.
The Competition Act applies to all representations. In most cases, companies don’t do it on purpose, or at least don’t do it recklessly. But in the event that LA Fitness misled customers knowingly or recklessly, and there is evidence to prove it, then the issue might get escalated to the Competition Bureau which can take the company to court, issue a corrective notice, or make them pay a fine. If it happens on multiple occasions, the issue can incur worse consequences the second or subsequent times.
But none of that really helps you. What can you do when you lose money because of false advertising?
Consumer arbitration is usually faster and less expensive than trying to go to court. However, there are still deadlines and paperwork, it is a legal process after all. That said, FairShake helps you navigate the consumer arbitration process, from filing your claim to getting the resolution you deserve.
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