In Veera v. Banana Republic, LLC, a California Court of Appeal recently reversed a judgment in favor of Banana Republic in a false advertising class action based on in-store ads promoting a 40% off sale. The plaintiffs alleged they were lured into Banana Republic stores after seeing ads in store windows stating "40% off." Plaintiffs learned at the cash register that the discount did not apply to the items they wanted to purchase. Out of frustration and embarrassment, plaintiffs claim they bought some but not all of the items they selected at full price. They later sued for violations of California's Unfair Competition Law ("UCL") at Business and Professions Code sections 17200 and 17500, claiming the "40% Off" signs were misleading because they did not disclose that the discount only applied to certain items.
When a business or individual engages in behavior that is designed to mislead others about the qualities of a product in order to get them to purchase it, the activity is called a deceptive trade practice. Federal law provides a uniform law that applies to such activities in all states, and the practices are also prohibited under state law.