We read with great interest, this recent article by the Pensacola New Journal on this recently-promoted “Pensacola Light Fest” (which, unknown to many who bought tickets, actually takes place in Kiln, Mississippi and can completely understand and encourage the response of Milton resident, Brittany Snellgrove, who was deceived into thinking the event took place in Pensacola so she created a Facebook page boycotting the event. This publicized event made us wonder if Florida residents know there is a statute in place specifically to target misleading trade practices.
The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act was enacted to protect consumers from companies who use deceit to profit and has been used to stop deceptive companies from charging for “environmental fees” they do not actually incur, insurance that never truly existed, as well as false and misleading advertisements like a Pensacola Light Fest that takes place in Mississippi. While boycotting and raising awareness of deceptive trade practices helps, the best way to stop deceptive fees and practices and put fraudulently-earned money back in the hands of consumers is to bring a case of deceptive trade practices to an attorney who can file a consumer rights suit on behalf of the victims.
In handling deceptive and unfair trade practices cases at Taylor, Warren & Weidner, we have successfully pursued companies that engaged in deceptive and unfair practices with charges as little as $4.35 per consumer. If we think the charges are deceptive and unfair, we will stand up for the consumer because if it happened to you, it has probably happened to hundreds or even thousands of customers. Florida's statute allows us to combine claims with many other people who were similarly deceived to pay money for something that is not what it was advertised to be. By standing together against deceptive and unfair trade practices, a lot of small claims can have the leverage of a big claim, which can force deceptive companies to finally play fair.
We have found some companies have added “fuel surcharges” and “environmental fees” to invoices when those companies do not have any actual environmental costs or extra fuel surcharges. These “fuel surcharges” and “environmental fees” are simply a way for these companies to squeeze a few unfair dollars out of you, the consumer, because they're hoping you won't notice just a few dollars here and a few dollars there. However, a superfluous four-dollar “fuel surcharge fee” charged to 500,000 customers is profit that should not be tolerated or permitted when it is wholly unrelated to the company's actual or increased fuel costs.
As consumers, you can help stop unfair and deceptive practices like these by carefully reviewing your purchases, receipts, and invoices. Find out what your suppliers are really charging you. If you have ever come across a charge you think is suspicious or confusing, contact us. We never charge an initial fee to speak with you, review your invoices and explain your legal rights. Consumer deceit is something we can all work together to stop.
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