False advertising or marketing is any time a company gives you information as the consumer (usually to get you to buy something) that is misleading, incorrect, or fraudulent.
The FTC defines false advertising below:
Sourced from the FTC with creative input from FairShake.
The rules which businesses have to follow exist at the state and federal level in the form of consumer protection laws. Most laws are governed by The Federal Trade Commission Act, which established the FTC in 1914. The FTC has jurisdiction to respond to complaints about false advertising from individuals or businesses, 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 like hidden fees where a company seemingly offers a deal but fails to tell you that their low price comes with initial sign up fees, regular maintenance fees, or other fees.
Total Wireless has received hundreds of complaints on their Total Wireless BBB page. Each of these complaints have to do with the same repeating issues of hidden fees and failure to disclose certain fees as well as failing to honor promotions and other discounts. There are a lot of complaints about customers who were charged hidden fees regularly in spite of reaching out to customer service and trying to rectify the situation and for many of them these regular fees were charged to their account for multiple months at a time before customer service would even investigate the issue. As one customer explained:
“They have repeatedly overcharged my debit card over the last few months. In April 2020, I was overcharged for data. I bought one $10 data plan for my phone only to be charged $60! I also never received the data that I paid for. I called Total Wireless customer service. They apologized and said they would reimburse my debit card. The refund never came. Last month, I was overcharged for 2 phone service plans. I bought a $50 plan for my phone and my girlfriend’s phone. I was charged $55 five times! They charged me over $275 for 2 $55 phone plans!!! So, I had to call and deal with an Indian customer service agent who could barely speak English! They ripped me off for over $165!!!”
Other issues had to do with products failing to live up to what they were advertised. In one instance:
“Total Wireless was unhelpful with our issue. I purchased an I-Phone 7 from them last June 2019, and the phone is no longer working. We contacted Total Wireless and they told us that they were unable to replace the phone that we needed to contact the Apple Store. The phone is still under warranty and they refused to replace the phone, continuously telling us to contact the Apple Store. I would never purchase a phone through Total Wireless, we had to contact Apple directly. I do not recommend the use of Total Wireless and will not use them in the future.”
Another customer fell victim to the bait-and-switch scheme where the products failed to live up to expectations as advertised, and puffery was afoot:
“Hello, I have boughten 4 Apple I phones from total wireless and do the 4-line 100gb HIGH SPEED INTERNET. There deal was add line get 10,000 rewards pts. Now that I have used these rewards to buy the last 2 months plans I have spent countless hours with reps getting the run around on trying to fix high speed internet. It all started 2 months ago when I I had 10 gb left I decided to do data add on so I wouldn’t have to run somewhere to get connected to do add on . I can watch my usage on total junks app . I watched the last of my 100gb plan use up then no add on . I called and got there old usual run around and said I used it . They were lying as the phone shows what I use . I told them they are screwing me over as they are con artist who will not admit there screw ups. Ever since talking to them about this issue I have had nothing but problems.they screwed me out of my add on and are screwing me out of high speed internet. I have 4 identical phones and I can fix the other 3 by booting them up off my plan and reconnecting them and the high speed internet works . But my phone is the main phone and I can not do this process with mine. I had one person who did this and I had high speed internet for six days. I have to hotspot from other three phones to have internet. I’m sick of wasting hours one phone talking to rip off artist who will not help me . I have recorded conversation and got proof of them saying they are transferring me to next agent and after 8 minutes waiting it hangs up on me . I just wanted them to unlock all four of my phones so I can go to a company that will give me the service that they promise. There is nothing wrong with my phones as they work flawlessly when connected to parents WiFi and others phone hotspot. It’s total wireless high speed internet that is not working cause they don’t let it work properly on my phone. They do not have a resolution and will not work with me . As of now it says I used 50 gb in 7 days when I usually get 26 days out of 100gb with four lines. I shouldn’t have to hot spot. They should not be allowed to have a business they are crooked and I recorded them as they record me. It doesn’t matter if you say I can’t as the recording does not lie. Please help me get all 4 phones unlocked so I can go to e real company.”
It is up to consumers like you to report the company for false advertising when you see it in action. The FTC does not require that anyone, yourself included, actually be affected by the false advertising in order to convict Total Wireless of doing it or at the very least, investigate them.
So, you can report the company by submitting a consumer complaint to the FTC. Only by filing a complaint with the FTC can they investigate and take action. 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.
The FTC can issue a variety of penalties to Total Wireless from a simple letter demanding that they fix the issue to a significant fine. But if there is a fine or any other monetary settlement, it is punitive, a punishment, not something that gets issued to those who were wronged.
This just means that if you lost money because of Total Wireless and false advertising, an FTC fine might not end up in your pocket. You can reach out to Total Wireless customer service, and see if they are willing to give you compensation but chances are, it won’t be that easy.
So what options are 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.
Best of the Best. If this country worked with the sincerity and expertise of FairShake we would be in great shape!Allie, real FairShake customer
They got more done in a few weeks than I did in over two years.John, real FairShake customer
I can’t say enough good about this company! They are really a light for us in a very hard time.Mark, real FairShake customer
Thank you FairShake for representing the little people screwed over by corporations.Amanda, real FairShake customer
I was having problems with the company for months. That you could make it resolved in a few days is wonderful.Marisol, real FairShake customer
It's not right what Big Business can get away with if we let them. People need to know someone is out there to help!Virgil, real FairShake customer