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Consumer Protection 

Nobody likes to be taken advantage of. This is particularly true when it comes to consumer transactions. Whether it is an unscrupulous car dealership that sells you a lemon, a contractor who fails to perform the work, or any other unscrupulous business that attempts to take advantage of you, we have the experience and the knowledge to help you. Call us for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights.

What Are Consumer Protection Laws?

 

Consumer protection laws are made to protect consumers from fraudulent business practices, defective products, and dangerous goods and services. They help consumers have a level playing field with large retail sales companies including those selling cars, motorcycles, boats and other vehicles, electronics, and other consumer products. These laws also protect consumers from unscrupulous contractors, rental or lease companies, and apartment complexes to name a few.

 

What is the Virginia Consumer Protection Act (VCPA)?

 

The Virginia Consumer Protection Act, or VCPA, covers consumer transactions that occur in Virginia and promotes fair and ethical standards for transactions between businesses and consumers. The VCPA applies to the sale or lease of goods or services used for personal, family, or household purposes by prohibiting businesses from being deceitful, engaging in misrepresentations, or engaging in fraudulent acts and practices.

 

What does the Virginia Consumer Protection Act (VCPA) cover?

The Virginia Consumer Protection Act covers a broad array of unfair or fraudulent consumer transactions. These include:

 

  • Misrepresenting the origin, source, or quality of the goods or services;

  • Misrepresenting goods or services as being those of someone else;

  • Misrepresenting the source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of goods or services;

  • Misrepresenting the affiliation of the supplier, or of the goods or services, with another supplier;

  • Misrepresenting the quantities, characteristics, ingredients, uses, or benefits of goods or services;

  • Misrepresenting that goods or services are of a particular standard, quality, grade, style, or model;

  • Advertising or offering for sale goods which are used, secondhand, blemished, or reconditioned, or that are “seconds,” or irregulars, without clearly indicating in the advertisement or offer for sale the actual condition of the goods;

  • Misrepresenting that repairs, alterations, modifications, or services were performed or parts were installed;

  • Advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised, or with intent not to sell at the price or upon the terms advertised;

  • Making false or misleading statements of fact concerning the reasons for, existence of, or amounts of price reductions;

  • Using in any contract or lease any liquidated damage clause, penalty clause, or waiver of defense, or attempting to collect any liquidated damages or penalties under any clause, waiver, damages, or penalties that are void or unenforceable under Virginia or federal law;

  • Selling or manufacturing a children's product the supplier knows or has reason to know was recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission;

  • Selling, offering for sale, or using in the construction, remodeling, or repair of any residential dwelling any drywall that the supplier knows or has reason to know is defective;

  • Using any other deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, or misrepresentation in connection with a consumer transaction.

 

Does the Virginia Consumer Protection Act apply to residential leases?

 

By its terms, the Virginia Consumer Protection Act excludes normal landlord/tenant disputes, unless fraud or misrepresentations are at issue. For example, if a landlord misrepresents the condition of the rental property, such as the presence of mold, radon, or other toxins, the Virginia Consumer Protection Act can be used to recover damages.

 

What kind of damages can I recover with the Virginia Consumer Protection Act?

 

The Virginia Consumer Protection Act provides that “[a]ny person who suffers loss as the result of a violation of this chapter shall be entitled to initiate an action to recover actual damages, or $500, whichever is greater.” Additionally, if the court “finds that the violation was willful, it may increase damages to an amount not exceeding three times the actual damages sustained, or $1,000, whichever is greater.” The court may also award prevailing consumers their attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in bringing the action. Finally, the court “may make such additional orders or decrees as may be necessary to restore to any identifiable person any money or property, real, personal, or mixed, tangible or intangible, which may have been acquired from such person by means of any act or practice declared to be unlawful in § 59.1-200 or 59.1-200.1, provided, that such person shall be identified by order of the court within 180 days from the date of the order permanently enjoining the unlawful act or practice.”

 

Does the Virginia Consumer Protection Act Apply in cases in which the victim is deceased?

 

Yes. Under the Act, “any person” may be the estate of a deceased person who either died as a result of a prohibited practice under the act, or who died of another cause but had a claim for recovery under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act at the time of their death.

Does the Virginia Consumer Protection Act allow a trial by jury?

 

Yes. Under § 59.1-206 (E) of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, consumers bringing claims under the Act are guaranteed the right of trial by jury.

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