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Consumer fraud class action claims - get one free - deception

Many people in California and elsewhere who regularly wear glasses have probably noticed the ubiquitous advertising by Visionworks regarding getting a second pair of eyeglasses free when you pay full price for the first pair. One woman in another state believes that the giant eyeglass retailer cheated her on the deal by first raising the price of the first pair inordinately so that the extra amount would cover costs on the "free" pair. When it comes to cases of consumer fraud, it's not a new gimmick: schemes offering buy one, get one free have been challenged in class action lawsuits throughout the country in the past.

The suit alleges that it is a violation of federal and state consumer protection laws to make deceptive buy one, get one free promotions. The complaint alleges also that the Federal Trade Commission declares it illegal to use such "free" offers for more than six months of any 12-month period. The suit is filed as a putative class action.

It seeks to represent the thousands of customers who accepted a buy one, get one free offer from the defendant in the state of Illinois over the preceding three years. Anyone who bought glasses from Visionworks without taking up that offer would not be covered. Other promotions would also not be covered. The class would include those who purchased a greatly overpriced first pair in response to a buy one, get one free promotion.   

The plaintiff has requested punitive damages plus attorneys' fees. If the class is certified, the final members of the class will likely be determined by including all individuals who respond to advertising and notices and who do not choose to opt out of the class. If the class action succeeds, there is likely to be similar action in California and other jurisdictions where the alleged consumer fraud took place.

Source: cookcountyrecord.com, "Class action: Visionworks BOGO eyeglass offer bogus, as first pair marked up to offset loss on 'free' pair", Scott Holland, June 10, 2016

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