Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (“DTPA”)
The primary purpose of the DTPA is to protect consumers against false, misleading, and deceptive business and insurance practices, unconscionable actions, and breaches of warranty. It does so by prohibiting certain acts and practices that tend to deceive and mislead consumers.
The DTPA provides for both public enforcement and private remedies. Public enforcement is done by the Texas Attorney General, who can seek a court order prohibiting further deceptive practices. A private citizen may seek redress for damages caused by certain specific acts and practices listed in the DTPA.
Which Transactions Does the DTPA Apply To?
Most consumer transactions are covered by the DTPA. The DTPA provides that “false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce are hereby declared unlawful.”
“Trade and commerce” means “the advertising, offering for sale, lease, or distribution of any good or service, or any property, tangible or intangible, real, personal, or mixed, any other article, commodity, or thing of value wherever situated, and shall include any trade or commerce directly or indirectly affecting the people of this state.”
“Goods” includes tangible things or real property purchased or leased for use.
“Service” includes work, labor, or services purchased or leased for use, including services furnished in connection with the sale or repair of goods. The DTPA does not apply to the rendering of a professional service, the essence of which is the providing of advice, judgment, opinion or similar professional skill.
The term “unconscionable” appears frequently in the DTPA. The DTPA defines an “unconscionable action” as one that “takes advantage of the lack of knowledge, ability, experience, or capacity of a person to a grossly unfair degree.”
Because the DTPA is very broad and is constantly being interpreted by the courts, it is impossible to explain its complete meaning and impact. If you believe that you are the victim of a deceptive trade practice, please give us a call.