10/30/2014 (press release: KGEmployment) // Carey Been
It’s something your grandmother always told you: read the fine print. Unfortunately, the advice wasn’t just wise, but necessary. Offers that seem too good to be true often are, with consumers ultimately buying products they probably would not have, had the facts been on the table instead of hidden away and hard to see. How rampant is the problem? In a new article published by the Keller Grover law firm, consumer protection attorney Cary Been discusses a recent crackdown by the Federal Trade Commission in which the agency sent letters to more than 60 companies — including 20 of the country’s 100 largest advertisers — it determined were not clearly disclosing key information in their advertising to consumers.
In the article — FTC Says 20 of Nation’s Largest 100 Advertisers Engage in Deceptive Advertising — attorney Been discusses how “Operation Full Disclosure,” the FTC initiative, is the latest in an ongoing effort to identify companies that hide too much information in fine print, failing to conspicuously, and properly, disclose facts that are important to consumer purchasing decisions. Such information could include automatic billing features, conditions for obtaining an advertised price, or shipping and handling charges that consumers must pay to return a product after a ‘risk-free’ trial period. While Operation Full Disclosure focused on television and print advertisements, a previous FTC initiative targeted advertisements delivered via the Internet and mobile devices.
“Consumers depend on advertisers to provide them with full and truthful information about the products they sell,” says Been. “When information is hidden from them or phrased deceptively, consumers may not be getting the deal they thought they bargained for.”
Keller Grover, which has offices in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, has been at the forefront of protecting consumers from deceptive practices that lure them into such ‘false bargains.’ The FTC’s efforts, the firm’s article notes, send a loud and clear message that wherever companies advertise, their advertisements must be truthful and provide all of the information necessary to consumer buying decisions. And crucially, that information must be presented in a clear and straightforward manner.
But Attorney Cary Been cautions that while the FTC’s initiative is important and necessary, the agency has limited resources. That makes it vital that consumers always remain vigilant and on the lookout for deceptive advertising. They should also take action when they do spot improper practices. “If they feel like they have been taken advantage of,” the consumer protection attorney says, “they should speak out about it and seek help. By working together, informed consumers and experienced attorneys can fight deceptive advertising — and help put a welcome end to misleading advertising.”