By Jedidiah McKeehan

We have all heard a story of someone being swindled by a dishonest business. Maybe it has happened to you. If there was only some way you could make them pay for their deceptive practices.

The Tennessee Consumer Protection Act is designed to help consumers (purchasers of goods or services) do just that. The Consumer Protection Act was passed in 1977. Its purpose is to encourage ethical dealings between businesses and consumers.

The Consumer Protection Act lays out a number of specific instances when a consumer can seek a recovery of money damages from a business.  Some of those instances include when a business:

  • Falsely passes off goods and services as those of another business’s
  • Causes likelihood of confusion or misunderstanding as to the source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of goods or services
  • Uses deceptive representations or designations of geographic origin
  • Represents that goods or services have sponsorships, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or quantities that they do not have
  • Represents that goods or services are of a particular standard, quality, or grade, or that good are of a particular style or model if they are of another
  • Disparages the goods or services of another business by false or misleading representations of fact
  • Advertises goods or services with no intent to sell them as advertised
  • Advertises goods or services without intent to supply reasonably expected public demand (unless the advertisement discloses limited quantities)
  • Makes false or misleading statements about the reasons for, existence of, or amounts of price reductions
  • Represents that a consumer transaction grants rights, remedies, or obligations it does not have or that are prohibited by law
  • Represents that a service, repair, or replacement is needed when it is not
  • Falsely represents a going-out-of-business sale
  • Sells or offers to sell participation in a “pyramid distributorship,” sometimes known as a Ponzi scheme
  • Assesses a penalty for prepayment or early payment of a fee or charge for services by a municipal-licensed utility or service company
  • Discriminates against a disabled individual in violation of the Tennessee Equal Consumer Credit Act
  • Unreasonably restricts supplies or raises the prices of essential goods, commodities, or services in response to crime, terrorism, war, or natural disaster

If a consumer can prove in court that any of these have occurred the Court has the option to award them treble (triple) damages. In addition, the consumer may be able to recover their attorney’s fees.