Deceptive And Unfair Trade Practices In Florida: Misleading Sales Pitches
The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) is a state law designed to protect consumers and businesses from improper conduct. There are a number of different practices that are considered “deceptive” and/or “unfair” under the law. A misleading sales pitch could constitute an FDUTPA violation. In this blog post, our Miami deceptive & unfair trade practices lawyers provide an overview of the key things to know about sales pitches and your rights under the FDUTPA.
FDUPTA and Misleading Sales Pitches: A Case Example
Florida law states that courts should construe the terms “deceptive” and “unfair” in a liberal manner. In other words, the FDUTPA is designed to provide significant protection to consumers and businesses that have sustained losses due to misrepresentation. A misleading sales pitch could qualify as an FDUTPA violation. An instructive example comes from the 1995 case of Suris v. Gilmore Liquidating—where a car buyer sought compensation for misrepresentations by a salesperson.
A man went to a car dealership looking for a Camaro Iroc Z 5.7. The sticker price for the model was $19,000 to $20,000. He eventually purchased a car from the defendant for $26,000. The buyer states he paid the higher price because the sales representative told him that the specific vehicle had specialized features, including a Corvette engine. Two weeks after the purchase, the buyer found a sticker in the car’s glove compartment noting the suggested retail prices as just $21,689.
Eventually, he filed an FDUTPA claim on the grounds that he suffered losses due to a misleading sales pitch. He argued that the sales representative provided false and misleading information, thereby inflating his perception of the value of the car. The court ruled in favor of the car buyer—emphasizing that “puffery” is lawful, but that sales pitch cannot include false information. The vehicle in question was not actually a limited edition model.
Important Consideration: Recovering Damages for an Unfair/Deceptive Sales Pitch
Florida courts are clear: A misleading sales pitch can constitute a violation of the FDUTPA. If you were told materially false or misleading information by a sales representative, you may have a legal claim for compensation through the FDUTPA. To recover compensation under the law, you must prove your damages. The FDUPTA does not allow for the recovery of punitive damages. You have the right to seek compensation for “actual damages” under the law. Make sure you document exactly how a misleading sales pitch took money out of your pocket. An attorney can help you put together a compelling, comprehensive case.
Contact Our Southeast Florida Deceptive and Unfair Commercial Practices Lawyers Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, we have deep experience representing clients in complex FDUTPA claims. If you have any questions or concerns about misleading sales pitches and the FDUTPA, our attorneys are available to help. Call us today for your confidential consultation. With office locations in Miami, West Palm Beach, and Palm Beach Gardens, our law firm serves communities throughout Florida.