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When Free isn't Free PDF Print
It may well be the most powerful word in advertising. Everyone loves the idea of getting something for nothing and so, many companies use ‘freeness’ to attract customers. So we get offers of free gifts or prizes, ‘buy one, get one free’ deals, or even interest-free finance deals to encourage us to buy. However, we must be on the alert for instances of when ‘free’ isn’t really free. The Consumer Protection Act protects consumers against false free offers. Section 14 deals directly with free offers, forbidding companies from offering a “gift, prize or other free item” when they do not really intend on “providing [it] as offered.”

Goods cannot be considered free if:

  • The price of the goods or services the customer must buy in order to qualify for the free item has been increased to cover the cost or part of the cost of the free item.
  • The goods or services that the customer must buy can be purchased cheaper without the free item.

Remember, free should always mean free.

 
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Information for Consumers

 
2015 FTC Annual Report  [pdf]
 
2016 Annual Lecture Presentation  [pdf]
 
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Former Commissioner, Prof. Andrew Downes, receives a gift of appreciation from Commissioner Monique Taitt. Prof. Downes was appointed to the Commission at its inception in 2001, became Deputy Chairman in 2006 and served as a member of the telecommunications and fair competition panels. We thank him for his 15 years of service and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.