Deceptive Trade Practices

If Texas were an independent nation, it would have the 10th largest gross domestic product (“GDP”) on earth. Texas’ economy is the second largest by GDP in the United States. GDP is the monetary measure of the market value of all the final goods and services produced in a given time. In simple terms, GDP is a measure of the economy.  Texas has a GDP of $1.887 trillion. Texas’ vast economy provides opportunity for consumers and merchants to engage in commerce. However, everyday consumers are victims of the deceptive trade practices of merchants.  

Merchants owe consumers responsibilities when conducting business transactions. Whether you are buying a car, a watch or clothes, Merchants cannot take advantage of their superior knowledge to take advantage of you. Merchants generally owe a duty of good faith. Good faith has been described as honesty in fact and the observance of reasonable commercial standards of fair dealing.  The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices (hereinafter “DTPA”) Act is a powerful tool for consumers in Texas, because the Act empowers the trial judge to award attorney’s fees and treble damages (three times the amount of damages). The Texas legislature drafted the DTPA to prohibit “false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct any trade or commerce.” So, a wide variety of actions are prohibited. Some examples of actions that are prohibited are:
(1)  Passing off good or services as those of another.
(2) Causing confusion or misunderstanding as to the source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of goods or services.
(3)  Causing confusion or misunderstanding as to affiliation, connection, or association with, or certification by, another.
(4)  Using deceptive representatives or designations of geographic origin in connection with goods or services.
(5)  Representing goods or services that claim to have sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or quantities but do not or a person claiming to have a sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation or connection but does not.
(6)  Representing that goods are original or new if they are deteriorated, reconditioned, reclaimed, used, or second hand.
(7)  Representing that goods or services are of a particular standard, quality, or grade, or that goods are of a particular style or model, if they are of another.
(8)  Disparaging the good, services, or business of another by false or misleading representations of facts.
(9)  Advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised.
(10) Advertising goods or services with intent not to supply a reasonable expectable public demand, unless the advertisement disclosed a limitation of quantity.
(11) Making false or misleading statements of fact concerning the reasons for, existence of, or amount of price reductions.
(12) Representing that an agreement confers or involves rights, remedies, or obligations which it does not have or involve, or which are prohibited by law.
(13) Knowingly making false or misleading statements of fact concerning the need for parts, replacements, or repair service.
(14) Misrepresenting the authority of a salesperson, representative, or agent to negotiate the final terms of a consumer transaction.
(15) Basing a charge for the repair of any item in whole or in part on the quantity or warranty instead of on the value of the actual repairs made or work to be performed on the item without stating separately the charges for the work and the charges for the warranty or guaranty, if any.
(16) Disconnecting, turning back, or resetting the odometer of any motor vehicle so as to reduce the number of miles indicated on the odometer gauge.
(17) Advertising of any sale by fraudulently representing that a person is going out of business.
(18) Advertising, selling, or distributing a card which purports to be a prescription drug identification card issued underSection 4151.152, Insurance Code in accordance with rules adopted by the commissioner of insurance, which offers a discount on the purchase of healthcare goods or services from a third party provider, and which is not evidence of coverage.
(19) Using or employing a chain referral sales plan in connection with the sale, or offer to sell, of goods, merchandise, or anything of value, which uses the sales technique, plan, arrangement, or agreement in which the buyer or prospective buyer is offered the opportunity to purchase merchandise or goods and, in connection with the purchase, receives the seller’s promise or representation that the buyer shall have the right to receive compensation or consideration in any form for furnishing to the seller the names of other prospective buyers if receipt of the compensation or consideration is contingent upon the occurrence of an event subsequent to the time buyer purchases the merchandise or goods.
(20) Representing that a guaranty or warranty confers or involves rights or remedies which it does not have or involve; provided however, that nothing in this subchapter shall be construed to expand the implied warranty or merchantability as defined in Section 2.314 and 2.318 of the Business and Commerce Code to involve obligations in excess of those which are appropriate to the goods.
(21) Promoting a pyramid promotional scheme, as defined by Section 17.461.
(22) Representing that work or services have been performed on, or parts replaced in, goods when the work or services were not performed or the parts replaced.
(23) Filing suit founded upon a written contractual obligation of and signed by the defendant to pay money arising out of or based on a consumer transaction for goods, services, loans, or extensions of credit intended primarily for personal, family, household, or agricultural use in any county other than the county other than in the county in which the defendant resides at the time of the commencement of the action or in county in which the defendant in fact signed the contract;
(24) The failure to disclose information concerning goods or services known at the time of the transaction and was used to induce the consumer into a transaction whom otherwise would not have entered had the information been disclosed.
(25) Using the term “corporation,” “incorporated,” or an abbreviation of either of those terms in the name of a business entity that is not incorporated under the laws of this state or another jurisdiction.
(26) Selling, offering to sell, or illegally promoting an annuity contract with the intent that the annuity contract will be the subject of a salary reduction agreement.
(27) Taking advantage of a disaster declared by the Governor under Chapter 418, Government Code, by selling or leasing fuel, food, medicine, or another necessity at an exorbitant or excessive price; or demanding an exorbitant or excessive price in connection with the sale or lease of fuel, food, medicine, or another necessity.
  

This is not an exclusive list of prohibited actions. Therefore, even if what happened to you is not on this list you may be able to bring a lawsuit to recover the damages you have suffered. If you believe that you have been the victim of a deceptive act in connection with a purchase or acquisition, call us today for a free consultation. Actions under the DTPA must be brought within two years of the deceptive act. In addition to damages, other possible remedies include temporary restraining orders, temporary or permanent injunctions, and monetary penalties, as high as $20,000 dollars per violation.

DTPA Frequently Asked Questions


Q: How long do I have to file the lawsuit? 
A: Generally, a DTPA lawsuit must be filed within two years after the deceptive act has occurred. In some instances, the consumer is permitted to bring a lawsuit after the two-year statute of limitations. This often occurs when the consumer could not have discovered the false, misleading, or deceptive act or practice. In those case, the consumer can file the lawsuit two years after the consumer discovered, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have discovered, the occurrence of the false, misleading, or deceptive act or practice. Additionally, the consumer is permitted to have an additional 180 days to file a DTPA lawsuit, when the defendant has done something to cause the consumer to not a file a DTPA lawsuit. For example, if a defendant promises to repair or fix the item subject of the lawsuit but later decides not to make the repairs.   

Q: What types of remedies are available upon a winning a claim under the DTPA?
A: Economic and mental anguish damages; treble damages; an injunction; a restoration order; the appointment of a receiver; revocation of a defendant’s license or certification to do business; court costs and attorney’s fees; interest; or any other relief that court deems proper.   

Q: What types of actions can I sue for under the DTPA? 
A: The DTPA is very broad. Please call The Major Law Firm to discuss case specifics. Consultations are 100% free. The following are prohibited actions under the DTPA: 
(1)  Passing off good or services as those of another.
(2)  Causing confusion or misunderstanding as to the source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of goods or services.
(3)  Causing confusion or misunderstanding as to affiliation, connection, or association with, or certification by, another.
(4)  Using deceptive representatives or designations of geographic origin in connection with goods or services.
(5)  Representing goods or services that claim to have sponsorship, approval, characteristics ,ingredients, uses, benefits, or quantities but do not or a person claiming to have a sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation or connection but does not.
(6)  Representing that goods are original or new if they are deteriorated, reconditioned, reclaimed, used, or second hand.
(7)  Representing that goods or services are of a particular standard, quality, or grade, or that goods are of a particular style or model, if they are of another.
(8)  Disparaging the good, services, or business of another by false or misleading representations of facts.
(9)  Advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised.
(10) Advertising goods or services with intent not to supply a reasonable expectable public demand, unless the advertisement disclosed a limitation of quantity.
(11) Making false or misleading statements of fact concerning the reasons for, existence of, or amount of price reductions.
(12) Representing that an agreement confers or involves rights, remedies, or obligations which it does not have or involve, or which are prohibited by law. (13) Knowingly making false or misleading statements of fact concerning the need for parts, replacements, or repair service.
(14) Misrepresenting the authority of a salesperson, representative, or agent to negotiate the final terms of a consumer transaction.
(15) Basing a charge for the repair of any item in whole or in part on the quantity or warranty instead of on the value of the actual repairs made or work to be performed on the item without stating separately the charges for the work and the charges for the warranty or guaranty, if any.
(16) Disconnecting, turning back, or resetting the odometer of any motor vehicle so as to reduce the number of miles indicated on the odometer gauge. (17) Advertising of any sale by fraudulently representing that a person is going out of business.
(18) Advertising, selling, or distributing a card which purports to be a prescription drug identification card issued underSection 4151.152, Insurance Code in accordance with rules adopted by the commissioner of insurance, which offers a discount on the purchase of healthcare goods or services from a third party provider, and which is not evidence of coverage.
(19) Using or employing a chain referral sales plan in connection with the sale, or offer to sell, of goods, merchandise, or anything of value, which uses the sales technique, plan, arrangement, or agreement in which the buyer or prospective buyer is offered the opportunity to purchase merchandise or goods and, in connection with the purchase, receives the seller’s promise or representation that the buyer shall have the right to receive compensation or consideration in any form for furnishing to the seller the names of other prospective buyers if receipt of the compensation or consideration is contingent upon the occurrence of an event subsequent to the time buyer purchases the merchandise or goods.
(20) Representing that a guaranty or warranty confers or involves rights or remedies which it does not have or involve; provided however, that nothing in this subchapter shall be construed to expand the implied warranty or merchantability as defined in Section 2.314 and 2.318 of the Business and Commerce Code to involve obligations in excess of those which are appropriate to the goods.
(21) Promoting a pyramid promotional scheme, as defined by Section 17.461.
(22) Representing that work or services have been performed on, or parts replaced in, goods when the work or services were not performed or the parts replaced.
(23) Filing suit founded upon a written contractual obligation of and signed by the defendant to pay money arising out of or based on a consumer transaction for goods, services, loans, or extensions of credit intended primarily for personal, family, household, or agricultural use in any county other than the county other than in the county in which the defendant resides at the time of the commencement of the action or in county in which the defendant in fact signed the contract;
(24) The failure to disclose information concerning goods or services known at the time of the transaction and was used to induce the consumer into a transaction whom otherwise would not have entered had the information been disclosed.
(25) Using the term “corporation,” “incorporated,” oran abbreviation of either of those terms in the name of a business entity that is not incorporated under the laws of this state or another jurisdiction.
(26) Selling, offering to sell, or illegally promoting an annuity contract with the intent that the annuity contract will be the subject of a salary reduction agreement.
(27) Taking advantage of a disaster declared by theGovernor under Chapter 418, Government Code, by selling or leasing fuel, food, medicine, or another necessity at an exorbitant or excessive price; or demanding an exorbitant or excessive price in connection with the sale or lease of fuel, food, medicine, or another necessity.  

Q: How long does a DTPA lawsuit take? 
A: There is no set timeline. However, The Major Law Firm will work as quickly as possible to recover the most money possible for your claims.
 
Q: Do I need an attorney to make a claim under the DTPA? 
A: The DTPA is a very complex law that has certain notice requirements that can be challenge. The Major Law Firm recommends that you retain an attorney to prosecute your claim.  

Q: How much does it cost to retain The Major Law Firm for a DTPA case? 
A: The Major Law Firm believes in its ability to win your case. Therefore, you do not owe our firm anything unless we win your case. Further, it is possible to have the Court order the defendants to pay the attorneys’ fees under the DTPA.  

Q: Who is allowed to bring a DTPA lawsuit? 
A: A plaintiff must be considered a “consumer” under Texas law in order to bring a DTPA lawsuit. A “consumer” is defined as any individual, partnership, corporation, or governmental entity who seeks to acquire by purchase or lease any goods or services.