A reader writes in with the following hypothetical:
Let's say a company, which we'll call "The Big Space," sells its own branded clothes, makes misleading statements about the existence of price discounts. For example, it advertises that these pants were "Usually $50, now $25, for a limited time." However, the true facts are that the retailer only sold the pants at $50 ten percent of the time, and the regular price was actually the "discounted" price of $25. Under 17200 and CLRA, and pursuant to FTC guidelines, this is probably misleading advertising. But what are the damages, if any, to the consumer?
For instance, let's say a retailer, whom we'll call "The Big Space," is the only retailer who sells its branded pants, and you can't buy them from any other store. What is the consumer's damages, if any, where he bought the pants at $25, thinking he was getting a $25 discount? What if comparable pants from Calvin Klein cost $25 also, so the consumer actually got a decent deal on the pants? And that's not even addressing the issue of reliance, which apparently isn't necessarily required under Prop 64 according to what I read on your blog. Regarding reliance, the consumer could argue that he bought the pants because he thought, based on the "limited time" language, that he had better act fast before the price was raised back to the supposed $50 regular price.
Does the consumer have a case for damages, besides just suing for an injunction (which state attorneys general or the FTC could do themselves)?Keeping in mind that damages are recoverable under the CLRA, but not the UCL (which limits monetary recovery to restitution), what do you think?