Gap Inc., a retail clothing outlet, was hit with a class action lawsuit Thursday, alleging that the store propagates misleading advertisements for sale items that do not clearly indicate sale exclusions both in its stores and online.
Lead plaintiff, California resident Misbah Etman, claims in the Gap class action lawsuit that she was misled about which items were included in a sale display and which weren’t, allegedly causing her to purchase an item at full price and feel misled.
“Because of the advertisement, Plaintiff believed that all the clothing on the rack bearing the advertisement was on sale at the price displayed on the advertisement and/or subject to the discount stated on the advertisement,” Etman claims in the Gap sale class action lawsuit, however after “Plaintiff looked through the clothing, selected three items she liked, waited in line for an open register, [Etman] found out at the register that Defendant would not sell her one of the items at the price displayed on the advertisement or would not discount one of the items in accordance with the advertisement.” Consequently, “[a]lthough she had been misled, Plaintiff purchased the non-discounted item and paid the higher price Defendant demanded,” alleges the class action lawsuit.
According to the Gap sale class action lawsuit, Gap also misleads consumers through its online stores by “enticing consumers to shop for, and to purchase, products from Defendant through Defendant’s website by means of false and misleading advertisements Defendant emails to consumers.” The Gap class action provides an example of an alleged advertisement Gap emailed “with a hyperlink to Defendant’s website stating clearly in dark letters against a white background ‘Hours to Shop!; Happy Monday; 40% Off Your Purchase; Ends Tonight.'” However, continues the complaint, “the email also states in barely noticeable lettering against a colored background ‘EXCLUSIONS APPLY.”
Additionally, “[o]nce a consumer clicks the hyperlink…the consumer is taken to Defendant’s website to shop [and], [w]hile shopping, Defendant’s website does not identify for consumers the items that are included in the sale, nor does it identify that items that are excluded from the sale,” alleges the Gap class action lawsuit.” Further, “Defendant’s website does not even disclose whether an item is included in or excluded from the sale when a consumer selects an item to place in the consumer’s ‘shopping cart,'” says the Gap sale class action lawsuit.
Etman is seeking to represent a proposed Class of all other consumers who purchased products at Gap stores in California, or purchased products on the Gap website while in California, on days when Gap displayed the advertising described in the class action lawsuit.
“All consumers who purchased products after having been enticed to shop at Defendant’s stores by the advertising described in this complaint have suffered damage as a result of Defendant’s false and misleading advertising,” argues the Gap class action lawsuit. “The consumers who paid full price for products suffered damage in the amounts they overpaid,” and “the consumers who paid the discounted prices suffered damage in amounts that will be the subject of expert testimony,” continues Etman’s complaint.
The class action lawsuit alleges that Gap’s actions violate California’s unfair competition law, false advertising law, Business and Professions code and Consumer Legal Remedies Act, with the damages to the class totaling more than $10 million.
Lead plaintiff, Misbah Etman, is represented by William M. Turner and Usman S. Mohammed of Jones Bell Abbott Fleming & Fitzgerald LLP.
The Gap Discounting Class Action Lawsuit is Misbah Etman, et al. v. The Gap Inc., et al., Case No. BC547161, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.
UPDATE: On Mar. 1, 2016, a judge dismissed a false sale class action lawsuit that accuses The Gap Inc. of using deceptive advertising to trick consumers into buying merchandise at full price, but will give the plaintiff “one last chance” to amend the complaint.
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