Under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (also known as simply the Consumer Fraud Act), it is illegal for a business to act in a deceptive manner in order to try to sell a product or service. This includes making false promises through advertising. If you have bought something under false pretenses, then it may be worth it to try to recoup damages through a lawsuit, whether on your own or as a class action.
Here are some guidelines as to when it's appropriate to bring a lawsuit against a company for false advertising.
Large Scale Food Mislabeling
Food mislabeling is one of the most common class action grievances. Large food corporations routinely test the boundaries of what they can get away with saying about their products, but recently savvy consumers have stepped up to help stop the widespread practice of mislabeling food products.
Under FDA guidelines, a food product cannot claim to provide specific benefits without evidence to back up those claims. Despite this, these types of claims happen all the time. Some recent high profile examples are:
- Dannon Activia yogurt: Claimed the yogurt was "scientifically proven" to aid digestion, but could not actually provide this proof. The class action settlement was $45 million.
- Kellogg's Frosted Mini Wheats cereal: Claimed that the cereal was "clinically shown" to improve kids' attention spans by 11%. However, clinical trials showed no such benefit. Kellogg's was ordered to pay out $4 million in a class action suit.
While the individual payout in these class action lawsuits against food mislabeling can be small, by banding together to hold corporations responsible consumers are helping to create a more truthful advertising environment. The cases listed above prove that individuals have power in groups even against the largest corporations.
Bait and Switch Schemes
When considering a lawsuit over a bait and switch scheme, it's important to make sure that the entity you want to sue actually engaged in a true bait and switch. Retailers, airlines, hotels, car dealerships, and more may engage in shady tactics to try to upsell you, but may not actually perpetuate a true bait and switch scam.
The hallmarks of a true bait and switch include:
- The service or product advertised never actually existed
- When you purchase the product, there are hidden fees or charges that you were never made aware of
- The product is "sold out" even though it was not advertised as being limited quantities
- The product being sold cannot be used for the purpose it was advertised for
It is not illegal to aggressively upsell consumers, as long as the original product or service is actually available as advertised. Information about additional fees or conditions must be stated clearly in the advertisement, and the language used must be simple enough for all potential consumers to understand and large enough to read.
If you think you've been the victim of a bait and switch scheme, contact Markoff Leinberger for a free case evaluation. We will advise you whether or not it's in your best interests to sue.
Schedule a False Advertising Consultation
If you have been a victim of false advertising, whether by a large corporation or a small retailer, the experienced lawyers at Markoff Leinberger can advise you on your case and help you obtain compensation where possible. Call us at 877-905-5161 today for your free legal consultation.
We serve clients in Chicago, IL and nationwide.