Street Law: A Course in Practical Law

Chapter 26: Deceptive Sales Practices

Chapter Overviews

Telemarketing Sales Telemarketing is a popular sales technique. However, many are victimized by telemarketing scams. Various rules have been developed to regulate telemarketers and to protect consumers.

Door-to-Door Sales  Most sellers who telephone or go to people's homes to sell items have honest intentions to offer products and services that people need. However, there are some door-to-door and telephone salespeople who place intense pressure on people to buy items they do not really want or that may not even exist. State and federal laws give customers protection from these kinds of practices and some of the unfair deals that could result.

Advertising and the Consumer  Advertising can educate customers about products and help the economy by encouraging people to make purchases. The First Amendment to the Constitution protects most advertising as a form of free speech. However, government can prohibit and punish false or misleading advertising. As long as they are not misleading, certain exaggerations about a product, called puffing, are allowed even if they are not exactly true.

Bait and Switch  Bait and switch is a deceptive advertising practice in which the "bait" gets the customer to the store to buy a particular item, and then the seller tries to "switch" the customer to a more expensive item. Federal rules prohibit this type of practice.

Mail-Order Sales  Mail-order shopping is a convenient way for customers to shop from home. However, mail-order shopping can cause problems when the wrong items are sent or the products are damaged in the mail. There are federal laws that give you the right to know when your item will be shipped.

Internet Commerce  E-commerce refers to sales and purchases that take place over the Internet. E-commerce is convenient and facilitates comparison shopping, but many fraudulent schemes that exist outside of cyberspace also exist online.

Repairs and Estimates  Because even the highest quality items can sometimes require repair, you should investigate the return, replacement, and repair policies before making a purchase. It is also important to do some research and ask the right questions when you bring an item to a repair shop to ensure that you are not charged for unnecessary services.

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