Guarantee the Accuracy of Warranty Ads

William H. ShawnCo-Managing Partner, ShawnCoulson

Advertising is at the core of attracting new customers, publicizing products and building profits. Advertisements frequently focus on a certain aspect of a product, such as its ease of use, ergonomic design or superiority over the competition.

Whatever you choose to emphasize, the Federal Trade Commission Act generally prohibits that ads contain “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.”

That includes advertising that promises lifetime warranties or satisfaction guarantees. Regardless of the cost of a product, you cannot use deceptive language to describe warranties.

To help businesses comply with the regulations, the FTC has issued guidelines for print or broadcast advertising that include:

The Pre-Sale Availability Rule. In general, if an ad mentions a warranty for a product costing more than $15, the ad must tell consumers they can read the warranty at the place of sale before making a purchase. Ads for products available by phone or mail order should tell consumers how to get a copy of the warranty.

This rule doesn’t apply to products that cost $15 or less. The agency says the sole sources of guidance in this are its legal decisions and policy statements. Consult your attorney for help researching this and applying case decisions to your ad content.

The FTC offers these examples of ads that are sufficient to disclose availability: