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Understanding opinions vs. deceptive trade practices

The internet has helped to make consumers significantly savvier than they were a decade ago. It’s now common to see someone standing in an aisle of a store, looking up information on their phone before making the decision to buy a product. Manufacturers have to think twice before making claims as it only takes ten seconds for a buyer to perform a Google search to discover that the “world’s best” gizmo has a host of problems and negative reviews.

In Florida, advertisers may slightly exaggerate the benefits of a product they are selling (watch any television commercial ever made for examples), but they are not allowed to deliberately lie, make false claims or otherwise attempt to knowingly mislead the potential consumer. Companies who do so are engaging in a practice known as deceptive trade practices. An example would be a used car dealership that deliberately changes the odometer on a used car to make it appear that the car has fewer miles than it actually does.

It is important to understand the difference between true deceptive trade practices, and opinions. A car manufacturer who knowingly lies about the mileage on a car is clearly attempting to deceive the public in order to gain more money for a car. A restaurant that claims it has “the best spaghetti and meatballs in town,” is likely just expressing an opinion. While you may disagree with that opinion, it would be difficult to prove that they’re engaging in deceptive trade practices, especially since the worst outcome would likely be a bad meal.

If you feel you have been the victim of deceptive trade practices and wish to understand your rights and options, consult with a lawyer who can help you determine the best course of action.