The uptick in class actions coincided with a 2014 letter from a number of U.S. Senators asking the Federal Trade Commission to launch an investigation into whether comparison pricing practices at outlet stores violated the FTC Act and the FTC’s “Guides Against Deceptive Pricing.” Class action plaintiffs’ lawyers continue to design new and novel theories under state consumer protection laws, deceptive business practices and false advertising statutes, and comparative pricing laws, against both online and brick-and-mortar retailers at all price points.
Scrutiny continues in other channels. Attorneys general, in certain states have initiated investigations and enforcement actions resulting in settlements. The issue of promotional pricing has even cropped up in competitor disputes before the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
Whether the new fashion in class actions fades away like an outdated trend or becomes a timeless staple of the plaintiffs’ bar remains to be seen, but retailers should prepare for a continuing onslaught and carefully review existing practices!
Our Advertising and Marketing attorneys counsel global retailers and their affiliate brands on all forms of advertising, marketing and promotions, including pricing issues. We work with clients to craft defensible pricing practices and advertising that complies with federal and state laws, industry self-regulatory standards and evolving best practices for traditional and online commerce. We represent clients facing regulatory investigations, enforcement actions and litigation brought by the FTC and state attorneys general, and together with our Consumer Class Action attorneys, defend clients in state and federal consumer class actions across the country involving advertising and labeling claims, deceptive trade practices, promotional pricing practices, promotional rebate policies, e-mail marketing campaigns and a range of other issues.