Most states have laws prohibiting certain business practices deemed "deceptive," such as bait-and-switch schemes or false advertising. Texas law does not adhere to the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act that many other states have adopted, but it does have its own comprehensive law addressing the matter. Texas deceptive trade practices law allow the attorney general, district attorneys, and consumers to file suit against violators.
The table below highlights the main provisions of Texas deceptive trade practices law, with additional information provided below it.
|Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act Adopted||No (Bus. & Com. §§17.41 to 505) Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act|
|False Advertising Forbidden||Yes (Bus. & Com. §17.46)|
|Who May Bring Suit||Attorney general; consumers; consumer protection division, district attorney (Bus. & Com. §§17.47, 17.48)|
|Remedies Available||Actual and treble damages (Bus. & Com. §17.50); injunctive relief, restitution, attorney's fees and costs, plus remedies available in other laws (Bus. & Com. §17.43, §17.50); restraining order, civil penalty not more than $2,000 per violation, not to exceed $10,000; if against consumer 65 or older, not more than $10,000 per violation, not to exceed $100,000 (Bus. & Com. §17.47)|
|Auto Odometer Tampering Forbidden||Yes (Bus. & Com. §17.46(16))|
Types of Deceptive Trade Practices
Deceptive trade practices come in many different forms. Each is usually designed to lure a potential customer or client into a store based on untrue or misleading information. The following forms are common examples of deceptive trade practices, but there are many more.
False advertising is illegal in Texas. It generally includes making false statements about the advertiser's product, or a competitor's product. Normally, only objective claims may violate false advertising laws. Stating that a car gets better gas mileage than it actually does is one example. However, subjective claims like "best value for your money" or "professional grade" are harder to enforce.
Bait and Switch
This form of consumer scam occurs when an advertiser lures a customer into a store based on an exceptionally priced item, and then gets the customer to purchase a similar item that is a better deal for the seller. Sometimes, the seller does this by advertising an item that the do not have in the store at all.
Texas vehicle code makes it illegal to change the mileage on an odometer. Some cars may need their odometers replaced if they fail. In this case, a car seller will have to disclose the different odometer reading to the car buyer, or can replace the odometer with an odometer that has the same or greater mileage listed.
In Texas, retailers are not allowed to list "regular" prices with a "sale" if they seller does not ever sell an item at the "regular" price. This often involves marking up the regular price of an item to make a potential buyer believe that they are getting a better deal on an item than they actually are.
Low Stock Scams
Sometimes, sellers will list a low price for an item with a low stock, knowing that the advertisement will continue to run even after the seller is sold out. To avoid committing this form of deceptive trade practice, sellers may include the numberof items in stock in an advertisement, usually in the fine print.
Enforcing Deceptive Trade Practice Law
Both consumers and the state government are allowed to sue for violations of deceptive trade practice laws. The penalties include actual and treble damages, forcing a seller to discontinue the deceptive practice, and attorney's fees if the consumer prevails. The penalties are significantly higher if the deceived consumer is over 65 years old.
If you would like to know more about deceptive trade practice law in Texas, there are many attorneys throughout the state with consumer protection experience who may be able to help.
Contact a qualified attorney.