On occasion, some Texas companies employ unethical business and trade practices to deceive businesses into purchasing a product or service. The Federal Trade Commission Act is a federal statute that grants authority and power to the Federal Trade Commission to:
- Stop unethical practices of competition and unfair or practices or deceptive acts that affect or occur in commerce;
- Solicit monetary compensation and other forms of relief for behavior harmful to consumers;
- Designate rules that define specific practices or actions that are deceptive or not fair and instituting requirements intended to prevent such actions or practices;
- Collect and consolidate information, and administer investigations correlating to the organization, practices, business, and administration of entities involved in commerce; and
- Produce reports and legislative suggestions to Congress and the public.
The Federal Trade Commission Act also contains several federal statutes that classify certain unlawful business practices as either unfair or deceptive and provide details about the laws that are in place to protect individual and business consumers. A few examples of deceptive trade practices include an obvious effort to deceive purchasers, whether by making false statements, omitting important facts, or by using propagandistic attacks against a competitor. Unfair trade practices typically include any actions that result in serious economic harm to businesses and consumers.
The State of Texas also created laws to protect the public and private companies from deceptive trade practices. The Texas Office of the Attorney General cautions that unlawful trade practices come in various forms. One form of deceptive trade practice includes making false claims regarding its own service or products. Also, it is unlawful for a business to use unethical manipulation of the consumer’s circumstances.” For example, it is illegal to take advantage of a customer who cannot speak English to make a sale. A different form of deceptive trade practice includes making fraudulent claims about their product’s effectiveness. In the repair industry, repair companies cannot deceive a customer by creating a list of unnecessary repairs. Another form of deceptive trade practice includes raising prices excessively after a hurricane or natural disaster to boost profits. The most common form of deceptive trade practice includes false advertising by dishonestly propping up their own product or by providing inaccurate or misleading information about a competitor. In some circumstances, these types of deceptive trade practices may be criminal and may be prosecutable.
In many cases, these issues may be corrected by making a formal complaint directly with the business. However, in some situations, the company engaging in deceptive trade practices might need to be sued for damages. In some instances, the Texas Office of the Attorney General will intercede and open an investigation to protect consumers from an overtly corrupt company.
Under the State of Texas’ Business and Commercial Code, Title 2, Chapter 17 – Deceptive Trade Practices, before an individual or a business may file a suit seeking damages against any individual or company, the individual who is seeking relief is required to furnish a 60-day written notice to the person or business who allegedly committed the deceptive trade practice. The letter should provide reasonable details regarding the purchaser’s precise complaints and the total amount of economic and non-economic losses, expenses, along with appropriate and relevant attorneys’ fees. While this 60-day period is in progress, the defendant is granted 60-days to deliver a written request to inspect the product or service issues as described in the purchaser’s complaint. The inspection meeting must be done at a reasonable time, in a reasonable manner, and at a convenient location for each party. At that time, new products or services subject to the purchaser’s complaint or claim can be presented to the purchaser to rectify the complaint.
After the 60-day deadline has been reached and there has been no response or satisfactory rectification of the purchaser’s complaint, the purchaser may proceed with filing a lawsuit. The plaintiff will have enough time to file the suit before the statute of limitations run out. Statute of limitations are laws that limit the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit to recover monetary damages. In the State of Texas, the statute of limitations to bring a lawsuit under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (“DTPA”) is two years from the date that the alleged misleading, false, deceptive practice or act occurred.
The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act was enacted to provide important protections for consumers. If you believe that you have done business with a company that engaged in deceptive practices, it is important to contact the experienced Texas business litigation attorneys at Alex Martinez Law Office to develop an effective legal strategy to hold the business accountable for its wrongdoing. To contact Alex Martinez Law Office, simply call (866) 253-9689.
Alex Martinez Law Office
421 S. 12th St.
McAllen, TX 78501
Phone: (866) 253-9689. Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m