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National Consumer Protection Week: Consumers Join Forces With Agencies

This week is National Consumer Protection Week. How does it impact your company? It’s an opportunity for you to understand today’s consumer protection environment and to hear what is concerning your customers and regulators and law enforcement. This is the 20th anniversary of NCPW. Click here for a link to the FTC webpage.

Consumer businesses should understand the level of collaboration and coordination among consumers and federal and state agencies. It is also important to understand how many avenues there are for consumers to complain and for agencies to investigate. Your risk management efforts should include increasing understanding and awareness of these possibilities and planning for any adverse events.

NCPW involves more than 100 partners. Partner efforts are led by a 16-entity Steering Committee, which includes, among others, AARP, Better Business Bureau, FCC, FTC, Federal Reserve System, OCC, National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), and the US Postal Inspection

Don’t Get TARRed: FTC Continues to Scrutinize Misleading Marketing and Sales Methods

November 22, 2017

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The Federal Trade Commission has taken Tarr, Inc. and 18 other entities to task for fake news, unsubstantiated advertising claims, and fake celebrity endorsements.

A stipulated order for permanent injunction and monetary judgment announced on November 15, 2017 imposes a $179 million penalty against the online marketer on charges it sold weight-loss, muscle-building, and wrinkle-reduction products to consumers using unsubstantiated health claims, fake magazine and news sites, bogus celebrity endorsements, and phony consumer testimonials.

The injunction includes, among other things:

  • A permanent ban on the use of negative option features to sell dietary supplements, cosmetics, foods or drugs, products sold on a trial or sample basis, or products that are sold as add-ons when consumers purchase other products. Negative options occur when a customer accepts a supposedly free trial offer, but is enrolled in a continuity program, through which they are charged for the initial supply of products if

Think Your Market Is Global? Then Global Consumer Regulators Likely Are Watching Your Business

 

Advances in internet technologies, global social media platforms, and inventory order management and shipping delivery systems have revolutionized our businesses. Shopping-at-home and catalog sales, markets most retailers never would have considered as recently as 20 years ago, are now vibrant. Your business now may have customers in many different countries. You should be aware of the growing collaboration among the consumer watchdogs across the world, because those regulators may well be aware of your business through consumer complaints.

econsumer.gov is a site sponsored by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) and supported by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as well as approximately 35 other countries’ consumer regulators. The site provides consumer education and publishes trends regarding consumer fraud complaints. As the tag line of the site reveals, it also is a portal for the collection of global consumer fraud complaints: “Report international scams

Mitigate Consumer Litigation Risk by Watching the FTC: Five Good Reasons

2017 already has been, and surely will continue to be, a year of great change. Regulatory agencies are re-envisioning their mandates. Many have or soon will have new leadership. And advocacy groups for consumers are mobilized.

Some of the regulatory changes may favor retail businesses. But others may continue to bring increased scrutiny and require more transparency with consumers. What can retail businesses do to help mitigate their risk and understand the headwinds they may be facing?  One thing that may be helpful would be to monitor the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)’s website. Why? Five good reasons.

  • Consumers are going to the FTC website. You should know what your customers are learning.
  • The Consumer Information section of the site offers a breadth of information, including tabs for Money & Credit, Homes & Mortgages, Health & Fitness, Jobs & Making Money, and Privacy, Identity & Online Security. In addition,

    No Common Sense – Today’s Cost of Doing Business

    May 23, 2016

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    What is a retailer to do? The world today is filled with people assuming they are being disrespected and believing they are being defrauded. It’s not just that some customers can be surly and demanding when they are in your store, they often seek to sue you on behalf of all your customers, wreaking havoc on your business operations and driving up your legal expenses. Common sense, courtesy, and consideration may be the retailers’ best tools both at the point of sales and in court.  Remember even when they sue, people are your customers.

    Over the past several years, there has been a rash across the country in “consumer protection” class actions. Not health and safety challenges; those obviously should be first order of priority both from the standpoint of risk to the company and from the standpoint of reputation and “doing the right thing.” For example, labeling class action

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