25-2 Chapter 25 Case Hypothetical and Ethical Dilemma Last year, Juan Ramirez purchased a washer-dryer combination from I. I. Gregory Appliances, Inc. Juan satisfied the monthly obligations on his I. I. Gregory credit card until he lost his job at D. Funk Steel Industries, Inc. He is now four (4) months behind on his I. I. Gregory credit card payments. I. I. Gregory has turned the matter over to a collection agency, Shady Way Collections, Inc. Since Shady Way only gets paid if it recovers on delinquent accounts, the company is particularly aggressive in terms contacting debtors and collecting overdue sums. When I. I. Gregory assigned the Juan Ramirez account to Shady Way, the collection agency “focused its wrath” on Juan. A representative of Shady Way has called Juan as early as 3:30 a.m., and as late as 11:45 p.m., often using foul language to impress upon Juan his debt repayment obligations. Despite Juan’s repeated proclamations that he will only deal with I. I. Gregory, the company he bought the washer-dryer combination from and whose credit card he holds, Shady Way continues to contact him. The collection agency has even called Juan’s brother and sister, telling them how dishonorable their sibling is, how they should be ashamed of him, and that they need to impress upon Juan that “real men” pay their debts. In its communications with Juan Ramirez and his family, has Shady Way Collections, Inc. violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act? If so, why should the law protect Juan? Has not Juan violated his legal and ethical obligations in terms of not repaying his credit card debt?
25-3 Chapter 25 Case Hypothetical and Ethical Dilemma Tancredo’s Television and Appliance is preparing for its annual Labor Day sale. The store’s sales manager, Chase Randleman, has arranged for an advertisement to run in Sunday’s edition of the local newspaper, the Glenwood News and Record. The full-page advertisement centers around a 42” Sanyoshiba plasma television with an advertised price of $495.00. The average competitor price for a Sanyoshiba television with like dimensions and features is $1,299.00. By 5:00 a.m. on Labor Day, three hundred eager customers wind around the store like a coiled snake ready to strike. There is a mad rush to the door when the store opens at 8:00 a.m., and Bailey Simmons is the third customer through the door. Bailey’s principle goal is to head to the television section and purchase the Sanyoshiba, but he does stop for a few minutes to examine the washer- dryer combinations. At 8:15 a.m., Bailey informs a sales representative, Mike Petty, that he would like to purchase the $495 Sanyoshiba television, but Petty informs him that he does not have another one like that to sell because the store had “sold through” the five they had in stock, and that the store has made a marketing decision to discontinue carrying the Sanyoshiba brand. Petty does inform Bailey, however, that he has an outstanding Toshamaha of the same size and options for $995.00, two hundred dollars less than its manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Is Tancredo’s Television and Appliance legally and/or obligated to either find and sell Bailey the featured television for the advertised price, or sell him a competitor’s brand of like dimensions and features for the $495.00 price?
25-4 Consumer Law Definition: A statute or administrative rule serving to protect consumer interests
25-5 Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Created by Congress through Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA) of 1914 Purpose of FTCA: Prevent fraud, deception, and unfair business practices Purpose of FTC: Enforce provisions of FTCA FTC methods to protect consumers: -Consumer Education -Legal Action
25-6 How The FTC Brings An Action: FTC conducts an investigation FTC sends a complaint to the violator FTC and violator settle complaint through “consent order” If company refuses to enter consent agreement, FTC may issue formal administrative complaint, which leads to administrative hearing If company has violated the law, FTC issues a “cease-and-desist” order
25-7 Remedies For Violation of “Cease-And- Desist” Order FTC can: Seek injunction against company; and/or Fine company up to $10,000 per violation
25-8 Elements of Deceptive Advertising Material misrepresentation, omission, or practice that is… Likely to mislead a… Reasonable consumer
25-9 Ad Substantiation Definition: FTC requirement that advertisers have reasonable basis for claims made in advertisements
25-10 “Bait-And-Switch” Advertising A form of deceptive advertising; advertising low price to “bait” consumer into store, only so that salesperson can “switch” consumer to a higher-priced item
25-11 FTC Actions Against Deceptive Advertising “Cease-and-Desist” Actions: Court orders requiring that firms stop their current advertising behavior Multiple-Product Orders: Court orders requiring that firms stop current advertisements on numerous products (as opposed to one specified product) Corrective Advertising: Advertisements in which company explicitly states that formerly advertised claims were untrue
25-12 Telemarketing And Electronic Advertising 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act: Telemarketers cannot use an automatic telephone dialing or pre-recorded voice system Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act of 1994: Congress asked FTC to define “deceptive and abusive” telemarketing practices, and requested that FTC create and enforce rules governing telemarketing that would prohibit such practices According to FTC-created Telemarketing Sales Rule of 1995, telemarketers must: -Identify call as sales call -Identify product name and seller -Tell total cost of goods being sold -Notify listener/reader whether sale non-refundable -Remove consumer’s name from contact list if consumer so requests Federal “Do Not Call” Registry: Telemarketers cannot call consumers who have voluntarily placed their phone numbers on the federal “do not call” list
25-13 Regulation of Tobacco Adv ertising Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1970: Prohibits radio and television cigarette advertisements Smokeless Tobacco Health Education Act of 1986: Also prohibits radio and television advertisements for smokeless tobacco
25-14 Labeling and Packaging Laws Federal and state governments have passed laws requiring that manufacturers provide accurate, understandable labeling information; if product is potentially harmful, manufacturer must make consumer aware of harm
25-15 Sales “Door-to-Door” Sales: The “cooling-off” rule gives consumers 3 days to cancel purchases they make from salespeople who come to their homes Telephone and Mail-Order Sales: The Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule of 1993 extends protections to those who purchase over the phone or by fax Unsolicited Merchandise: In accordance with the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, consumer allowed to treat any unsolicited merchandise as a gift; consumer free to keep/return unsolicited merchandise as he/she wishes
25-16 FTC Regulation of Specific Industries Used-Car Sales Funeral Home Sales Real Estate Sales Online Sales
25-17 Credit Protection Legislation Truth-In-Lending Act: Requires that sellers disclose terms of credit/loan to facilitate consumer’s comparison of a variety of credit lines/loans Fair Credit Reporting Act: Ensures accurate credit reporting Fair Debt Collection Practices Act: Regulates actions of debt collectors that regularly attempt to collect debts on behalf of others
25-18 Credit Protection Legislation (Continued) Credit Card Fraud Act: Closes “loopholes” in federal laws to further punish people who commit credit card fraud Fair Credit Billing Act: Seeks to remedy problems and abuses associated with billing errors Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act: Takes affirmative actions to control and prosecute identity theft
25-19 Collection Practices Expressly Prohibited By The FDCPA Contacting debtor at work (if debtor’s employer objects) Contacting debtor who has notified collection agency that he/she wants no contact with agency Contacting debtor before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Contacting third parties about the debt (Exceptions: contacting debtor’s parents, spouse, or financial adviser) Using obscene/threatening language when communicating with debtor Misrepresenting collection agency as a lawyer/police officer (Note: These restrictions apply to all “debt collectors”)
25-20 Consumer Health and Safety Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act: Protects consumers against misbranded or adulterated food, drugs, medical devices, or cosmetics Consumer Product Safety Act: Created the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to “protect the public against unreasonable risks of injuries and deaths associated with consumer products”
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