Think you’re a victim of Optimum false advertising? You may have legal options.
False advertising, sometimes called misleading advertising, is when any company uses false or misleading information to try and make their products or services look good or to encourage you to buy from them.
There are rules that regulate what false advertising actually is, and when a company can be found guilty of it. These exist in a collection of state and federal consumer protection laws, most of which 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 types of false advertising categories. The most common is something as simple as putting information on a product label that is inaccurate, but other examples can include failing to disclose vital information that might affect your health or safety as the consumer, having hidden fees that are not disclosed in an easily found location. With hidden fees, even if a company includes it in the fine print, courts might say that it was not easy to find and therefore misleading.
A class action lawsuit was filed against Optimum for their cancellation policy which required a full monthly cycle of payment even after customers decided to cancel and return all related equipment. In this lawsuit it asserts that after customers canceled their service with Optimum, they were still hit with another charge of at least $100 even after they had returned the equipment. This violates New York state law for deceptive practices. Moreover, customers complained that they were not given sufficient written notice about this policy which falls under the same area of false advertising when it comes to lack of disclosure.
Consumers have many other complaints about hidden fees. Optimum reviews on Consumer Affairs show almost entirely 1 star reviews with customers explaining things like “They were charging me double for more then 2 years. When I check the current price it was 50% less. They did fraud with me. This company has to shutdown. They are giving new customers 50% price for lifetime and old customer has to pay double for ever. What a fraud.”
Many other customers complained that the services did not live up to expectations. For example, one businessman purchased a business account for Internet-only which allegedly provides 200 mbps for $120 but every time the internet is used the speed test hovers around 105. This is a reoccurring complaint with other customers noting that they are charged for the same 200 speed plan and still get less than 100. Dozens of complaints echo the same sentiments of false advertising and puffery.
The most important thing is that you don’t have to actually be affected by the false advertising in order for Optimum to be charged with it. In fact you don’t even have to see the false advertising affect anyone around you in order to report it. The first step when you do witness false advertising in action is to report it to the FTC so that they can investigate and take action. Start by submitting a consumer complaint to the FTC. 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 FTC might send Optimum a cease-and-desist letter, asking them to stop the advertising or change it so that it’s not misleading or false. They might issue them a fine. If things are complicated enough with enough evidence, especially in situations where it was done knowingly, there might even be legal court cases involved. But none of that really helps you.
If you were personally affected by false advertising and you lost money because of it, you can try to reach out to Optimum customer service or Optimum corporate offices, but chances are they won’t be willing to help you or simply won’t be able to help you. If that is the case, there are other options. One of those is consumer arbitration.
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.