What actions can victims of false advertising take?

Published 24 Jan 2019

It's against the law for businesses to make claims about their offerings that are false or misleading. If you've paid for a product or service you think doesn't stack up to the advertising around it, what are your options for recourse?

What is a false or misleading claim?

Consumers need to be able to trust that the claims made in advertisements are accurate. As such, it's illegal for organisations to advertise with false information, or in such a way that an incorrect understanding of the product or service is likely to be formed. These can be claims related to things like the quality, quantity, benefits or the necessity of the goods in question.

Some of the more common kinds of false or misleading advertising the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission say they deal with include:

  • Fine print - cases where the fine print contradicts the overall message of the advertisement or sales information.
  • Comparative advertising - advertisements that try to show a product or service in a better light by unfairly or misleadingly comparing it to something else.
  • Bait advertising - putting items 'on sale' when they are in fact unavailable or in extremely low quantities.

What can victims of false or misleading claims do?

For those that think they've fallen victim to false or misleading claims, there are a number of actions that can be taken. The first is to contact the organisation in question and voice your concerns. Sometimes the company will be willing to offer you a refund, replacement or some other kind of compensation for your troubles.

If contacting the company proves unsuccessful, seeking advice from your lawyer can be wise. The specifics of what options are available to you will depend on the individual case and the nature of the false or misleading claim. That said, you may be entitled to take the company to the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal to seek compensation. This requires filing an application which, if successful, will result in some form of dispute resolution, be it a formal hearing, a conference or conciliation and mediation.

In certain cases, further legal action may be appropriate, so it's best to consult with your lawyer early to determine the best course of action.

Contact the team at Malouf Solicitors to learn more about how we can help you rectify a false advertising situation.

Please call us on 02 8833 2000 to speak with a lawyer

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