Thoughts, opinions and
comments by attorneys and staff at
Whitfield Bryson & Mason

Consumer Alert: False Sales Prices at and Similar Stores

Sometimes, companies advertise sales that seem too good to be true. People often wonder if the sale they see on advertisements is really a sale, or if the sale price is just the company’s regular price. All too often, companies encourage their customers to make quick and rash decisions by advertising their items as “50% off” and as “on sale for a limited time.”  Other times, companies entice people to buy an item with false comparison signs or price tags. These advertising schemes will list a “former” price or will “compare” their price to higher, non-existent price. These advertising practices are false and deceptive.

Why do companies use false or deceptive advertising? For a very obvious reason: sales encourage people to buy something they otherwise wouldn’t buy. People often think they have received a good deal and don’t know that the company tricked them into making a purchase.

Despite this widespread practice, federal and state laws prohibit companies from using false or deceptive advertising in selling their products. Companies are prohibited from advertising a sale price or a “former” price if the item did not have a regular price beforehand. Similarly, companies are prohibited from using a fictitious “compare to” price and compare it with their own, much lower price.

People are standing up to these deceptive advertising schemes. In 2014, a group of consumers received a $4.9 million settlement against Michael Kors for its practice of using deceptive and misleading advertising to sell its products. In 2015, J.C. Penny agreed to pay $50 million to a group of consumers who were mislead by the company’s deceptive sales advertising. Other lawsuits have been filed against retailers such as Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.

Whitfield Bryson and Mason is currently investigating claims against and other companies who utilize these deceptive practices. If you have purchased something from and believe you have been deceived, we want to hear from you. Contact us at 919-600-5000. There is no cost to our investigation. We look forward to helping you stand up against these misleading practices.