Today, Your Legal Corner will discuss “Products and fraud.”
Commercials, while hugely entertaining at times, can be filled with innuendos and half-truths. Have you ever listened closely to the claims made about products? When it comes to purchasing a product, seeing, truly is believing.
If you watch your favorite TV show for even 30 minutes, you will be bombarded with commercials trying to sell you just about anything. Over ninety seconds, it could be a car, insurance, food or a website to meet that special someone. There are also the commercials that are wildly funny but I forget what product they are trying to get me to purchase!
It is very important to remember, just because it is on TV does not make it true. Here are just some examples. Kia and Hyundai car manufacturers had to send gas cards to their customer who bought certain model cars between 2011 and 2013 because of misrepresentations made regarding gas mileage.
A New Jersey man who complained that their footlong sandwiches were not really 12 inches or a foot long sued Subway. This did not surprise me as Jersey residents take their food seriously.
The question is where do you draw the line between exaggeration and false advertisement?
Believe it or not, puffery is a legal term that means a statement that is exaggerated or generalized that no consumer could reasonably rely upon.
For example, Snapple was sued because it advertised that its drinks were made with “the best stuff on earth.” The plaintiff argued that Snapple was misleading their customers because their ingredients included high fructose corn syrup and were not all natural.
After lengthy litigation, the lawsuit was dismissed because it was determined that Snapple’s customers really did not believe these beverages were all natural but bought them because they thought they were “fun.” The court found this to be a case of pure puffery.
However, where an advertiser makes statements that are factual, objective or quantifiable without any reasonable basis to believe these statements are true, they may be engaging in false advertising.
Red Bull is hugely popular, especially with young males. In one of their advertisements, they boasted that red Bull “gives you wings.” Certainly this statement is beyond belief and is purely puffery.
However, on their website, Red Bull also made the claim that their product was “scientifically proven” to improve athletic performance.” When it was determined that the scientific evidence for this claim was lacking, Red Bull agreed to settle the lawsuit.
Most states, including New Jersey, have laws protecting consumers from false or deceptive claims made by companies about their products. Please consult with an attorney if you believe you have fallen victim to false advertising. The next time you feel yourself falling for the promises made in a commercial, please remember to listen carefully and that, seeing is believing!
Till next time, God bless, keep smiling, when Your Legal Corner, will discuss “Employment and Expungements.”
Victoria M. Dalton is an attorney with the law offices of Hoffman DiMuzio.
Send questions, or comments to Victoria at [email protected]. Or call 856-845-8243.
Please note that Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational articles about the law and is not legal advice.