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Unfair Business Practices

Companies may be able to come up with creative marketing ploys to attract consumers; however, their ploys cannot violate the law and damage the consumer. Businesses may not engage in unfair business practices in order to lure consumers into purchasing their goods or products under false or fraudulent pretenses. Unfair business practices are illegal and can be actionable under a court of law. If you believe a business has committed an unfair business practice against you, you may have legal rights to protect yourself.

Unfair Business Practices Information Center

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What are Unfair Business Practices?

Unfair business practices are the use of unfair competition and unconscionable, deceptive, and fraudulent methods of business practices as suggested by the Florida Deceptive Unfair Trade Practices Act, the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC) and the Consumer Protection Law in compliance with other state and federal regulations. Businesses typically use these methods for an advantage over competitors and gained profits. Such purposes may be triable if deemed to be unlawful or a cause for injury or harm.

Florida Deceptive Unfair Trade Practices Act

Fla. Stat. § 501.2041 cites actions of this nature as “unfair methods of competition, unconscionable acts or practices, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce are hereby declared unlawful.” The law conjures the legal weight of interpretation brought on by the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC) when upholding the act.

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Unfair Business Practice Types

False Advertisement/Representation of a Product 

A false advertisement or representation of a product is the use of false, unproven, or misleading information in its publications or appearance of the product to lure the consumer into buying the product. For example, a consumer is purchasing a bulk of chairs for his restaurant. The furniture store sells the consumer some chairs with broken legs, but the break is barely visible. The furniture store may be using false advertisement or representation if it fails to mention the break or advertises the chair as being in perfect condition.

Tied Selling 

Tied selling is the practice of a business providing or selling a product, service, or good to a consumer only on the conditions that the consumer buys or engages in another one of its goods, services, or products. Such practices can be extremely unfair if the products or services are of great need or emergency to the consumer or impedes the consumer’s freedom to choose. A bank is engaging in tied selling if it lures the consumer into a mortgage only on the condition that the consumer uses only its bank for all banking purposes.

Deceptive Pricing 

Deceptive pricing is the practice of a business falsely claiming it offers lower pricing for consumers when they are providing the product at a price similar to the one generally sold. The deceptive act is constituent to the business advertising ploy.

Noncompliance with Manufacturing Standards 

Businesses must comply with the manufacturing standards of a product when selling or distributing a product to its consumers. A manufacturing standard of a product may concern the manufacturing, labeling, instructions, packaging, or storing methods of a product as provided by the business. If a company is negligent in providing instructions on a product that may involve hazards or cautious use, then it may be non-compliant and even trigger a premise or product liability lawsuit.

Price Gouging 

Price gouging is the unfair practice of increasing the price or cost of a service, good, or product above reasonable market prices. Fla. Stat. § 501.160(b) provides the increase in price may constitute prima facie evidence if it “represents a gross disparity.” Furthermore, the statute signals any price gouging during a declaration of state emergency by the governor is directly considered illegal and a violation of the Deceptive Unfair Trade Practices Act.

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Civil Actions Against Unfair Business Practices

The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (Fla. Stat. § 501.211) refers to a civil action against unfair trade practices as the following:

(1)Without regard to any other remedy or relief to which a person is entitled, anyone aggrieved by a violation of this part may bring an action to obtain a declaratory judgment that an act or practice violates this part and to enjoin a person who has violated, is violating, or is otherwise likely to violate this part.

(2) In any action brought by a person who has suffered a loss as a result of a violation of this part, such person may recover actual damages, plus attorney’s fees and court costs as provided in s. 501.2105. However, damages, fees, or costs are not recoverable under this section against a retailer who has, in good faith, engaged in the dissemination of claims of a manufacturer or wholesaler without actual knowledge that it violated this part.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides resources for reporting unfair business practices and displays alerts concerning consumers. Unfair business practices actions can be tricky since they hold the weight of severance resulting from the action as an essential factor to consider. Interpretation of such actions is also to be considered, as the unfair business practice may have been evident to some individuals and not others. If a consumer buys a falsely advertised product and suffers an injury, because of its interpretation of the advertisement, the consumer may want to pursue damages. However, it is reasonable that the court may consider other consumers in action, to which their interpretation of the advertisement of a product may have been different and not caused an injury. The court may not ignore the legality of the false ad but will likely consider all circumstances.

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Additional Resources

State and Local Consumer Agencies in Florida | USA.gov – USAGOV is a government official page providing government information and services. If you are witness to unfair business practice as a consumer or as another business, you may want to contact a state or local consumer protection office. For more information on contact information, refer to this page to find your local branch.

Florida Office of the Attorney General | Consumer Protection Division – The Florida Office of the Attorney General page provides information involving consumer protection. The Consumer Protection Division of the attorney general has done for work for protecting the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act is available. The information provided is separated into different categories and gives tips on how to protect oneself from the common scams and deceptive methods of trade in the state.

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Miami-Dade County Attorney for Unfair Business Practices

The Florida Deceptive Unfair Trade Practices Act prohibits unfair business practices in the state of Florida. Unfair business practices can tarnish business competition and deceive consumers. You may be entitled to pursue damages if you have suffered severe economic loss or injury resulting from the business practice.

Our attorneys at Abrams Justice are seasoned in sophisticated business suits and will fight tirelessly on your behalf to get you what you deserve. You may be entitled to exemplary damages if the unfair business practice is found to be gross and reckless.

At Abrams Justice Trial Attorneys we work with clients in the counties of Miami-Dade Broward, Monroe, and Palm Beach County. Call (305) 709-0880 to schedule a free, confidential consultation with an attorney.