Think you’re a victim of Verizon Fios false advertising? You may have legal options.
Curious about false advertising? We explain what the law says about it, how to report it, and what to do if you have been a victim. We share how to report Verizon Fios if they have done something wrong and more.
False advertising is in a situation where a company presents false or misleading information about themselves, their products, their services, and even their competitors.
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. The FTC is clear about what rules businesses have to follow when marketing or advertising to customers.
It doesn’t matter where you see false advertisements. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the agency that enforces truth in advertising laws, says:
“whether it’s on the Internet, radio or television… in newspapers and magazines, online, in the mail, or on billboards or buses,” a business’ claim about its product or products cannot be misleading in any way; it must be truthful, and, whenever possible, backed by scientific evidence.”
In fact, you don’t even have to have suffered personally from the false advertising in order to report it, you just have to witness it.
Note: No one actually needs to be misled for a court to find that an advertisement is misleading.
Clearly there are different types of false advertising defined by the FTC, and these eight broad categories are not the end-all of potential false advertising claims; they just embody the majority of them. One example is that of trademark infringement where a company uses an image or a product name that doesn’t belong to them but does belong to a competitor. Similarly, companies that try to go around trademark infringement might use something in a commercial that says that they are better than a leading brand, and then make disparaging remarks about a comparative product. This would fall under the same category.
Firstly, community members are upset. And rightly so. They have noticed examples of false advertising that go unchecked. And they aren’t afraid to talk about it on the Verizon Fios community chat board. As one customer demanded: “Why does Verizon claim their plan to be “Unlimited” when it is obviously not “Unlimited”???? To limit anything in any way is limit the thing. It is deceptive, false, and illegal to advertise the plan as unlimited when it is not. Please stop the false advertising.”
That said, Verizon Fios had to pay $1 million to customers as a direct result of this particular grievance. They had to pay after settling with the New York Attorney General for falsely claiming their data plans were unlimited. Moreover, Verizon Fios terminated 13,000 customer contracts for “excessive” use of this “unlimited” service, and the New York Attorney General simply would not tolerate that kind of false advertising. In fact, Verizon Fios is paying $150,000 in fines to the state of New York.
The BBB’s investigative branch, the National Advertising Division has recommended Verizon Fios change their ads that mislead customers into thinking they have 5G networks when they have only 4G.
The FTC has filed legal suits against Verizon Fios demanding that they stop their false advertising and compensate customers.
So, if you have seen false advertising in action, what can you do? Well, remember that 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 you can report it when you see it, even if it didn’t directly impact yourself or anyone else. To do that, your first step is to submit a consumer complaint to the FTC. Only by filing a consumer complaint with the FTC can they investigate and take action. You can also submit a complaint to TruthinAdvertising.org where it will go public.
However, if you have been wronged by false advertising personally, the rules that govern how you can get recourse will depend on your state’s laws related to Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices.
The punishment issued by the FTC is based on the severity of the situation. For example: the FTC does not take kindly to situations where a company failed to disclose or mislead through their labeling the potential health impacts, or harm of their products.
They certainly don’t take kindly to situations where a company has already been caught and charged for false advertising. There can be fines or jail time as a result, but not usually for you.
That said, if you personally were affected by false advertising and you lost money because of it, getting compensation after you have reported the company to the FTC isn’t likely to happen. You can try customer service directly with Verizon Fios but they might not be able or willing to help.
The next solution is to use consumer arbitration. Consumer arbitration is usually faster and less expensive than going to court but it can still be a bit confusing because it comes 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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