What do all of these things have in common?
- A business that misleads its customers through false advertising.
- A group of people who try to set up a pyramid scheme.
- An auto dealership that winds back the odometer before selling a used car.
Well, aside from being examples of deceptive business practices, they’re all things that are outlawed under Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL). Established in 1968, the law is designed to keep businesses from engaging in unfair or deceptive practices and protect consumers of various goods and services.
In 1996, the law was amended to clarify that plaintiffs don’t need to satisfy the requirements of common-law fraud cases to show that someone violated the UTPCPL. State courts have ruled that conduct violating the catchall provision simply needs to be misleading, not outright fraudulent.
There’s also a “catchall” provision in the PA consumer protection law which covers “any other fraudulent or deceptive conduct which creates a likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding.”
UTPCPL covered offenses:
- False advertising, which means any ads that mislead or confuse the public about the provider, sponsor or affiliation
- Bait and switch practices – A business says it has a product or offers a service it has no intention of actually giving the consumer or doesn’t provide enough to supply an anticipated demand. (Unless the business indicates supplies are limited.)
- Telling consumers a product or service has features it does not
- Making repairs, improvements or replacements on real or personal property that aren’t up to the standard agreed upon in writing
- Disparaging another company’s goods or services through false or misleading statements
- Selling used items as new
- Promising buyer referral compensation where that compensation depends on a future event
- Claiming a product or service meets a standard it doesn’t meet
- Chain letters and either promoting or engaging in pyramid schemes. These are defined as any plan in which goods or services are sold to a person with the idea that the buyer will secure other people to take part in the plan.
- Engaging in telephone sales without stating the caller’s identity, the nature of the promotion or the reason for the call
- Failing to stick to the terms of a written customer guarantee
- Failing to inform someone who is buying a new car that rustproofing is optional or that the car has been rustproofed by the manufacturer
UTPCPL helps PA consumers
Under the PA consumer protection law anyone who suffers “any ascertainable loss of money or property” due to any of the offenses listed above may have a case to pursue.
Courts can also award up to three times the amount of damage, as well as other relief it deems necessary, such as court costs and attorney’s fees.
Seek Legal Help
The attorneys at Flitter Milz can help if you have been a victim of deceptive business practices. Our lawyers have extensive experience in bringing cases that have helped consumers fight abusive collection agencies, credit reporting privacy and accuracy violations and unlawful vehicle repossessions. Contact us today for a free legal evaluation and we’ll get started on making sure your rights as a consumer are kept safe.