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Deceptive trade practices harm consumers through dishonesty

In a previous post this New Jersey business law blog discussed the story of Volkswagen and its engagement in deceptive trade practices. The automaker allegedly allowed thousands of vehicles to be sold in the United States as well as throughout the rest of the world with emissions bypass features that would give inaccurate emissions readings when the vehicles were tested. As many countries, including the United States, have strict air quality and vehicle emissions standards to uphold, Volkswagen's deceptions gave it an unfair advantage over other auto manufacturers who legitimately found ways to keep their vehicles under the emissions limits of the various nations.

The story of Volkswagen is just one example of how a company may engage in deceptive trade practices. Different actions can result in allegations of deceptive trade practices, and the remainder of this post will look at some of the ways such allegations can be made against a company. Readers should recognize, however, that this post is only a general overview of the broad topic of deceptive trade practices and should not rely on it as a comprehensive authority on the topic.

A deceptive trade practice can be assessed based on the level of deception in its claims. As markets are competitive, many product creators seek to make their products more attractive than similar products in order to induce buyers to purchase them. As long as a maker's claim is not blatantly false or overtly deceptive then it may not rise to the legal definition of a deceptive trade practice.

However, if a producer of goods sells something that simply is not what the buyer thought the person was purchasing then the producer may be guilty of deceptive trade practices. Selling counterfeit goods, tampering with goods to make them appear more attractive to buyers -- as in the case of Volkswagen -- and making false representations of quality may all be examples of valid deceptive trade practices.

There are many more examples of how deceptive trade practices can arise and how they can harm consumers. Individuals who believe that they have suffered harm due to the deceptive trade practices of product producers may have business litigation claims to bring against the responsible parties.

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