[HISTORY: Adopted by the Suffolk County Legislature 9-11-1973 by L.L. No. 22-1973 (Ch. 249 of the 1985 Code). Amendments noted where applicable. Uncodified sections of certain local laws amending these provisions are included at the end of this chapter.]
Banking practices — See Ch. 314.
Business practices — See Ch. 353.
Caterers — See Ch. 365.
Pet cemeteries — See Ch. 370.
Gasoline sales — See Ch. 494.
Home improvement — See Ch. 517.
Item pricing — See Ch. 542.
Moving companies — See Ch. 607.
Rental property — See Ch. 696.
Retail sales — See Ch. 704.
No person shall engage in any deceptive or unconscionable trade practices in the sale, lease, rental or loan, or in the offering for sale, lease, rental or loan, of any consumer goods or services or in the collection of debts.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The Commissioner of Consumer Affairs.
- An individual who buys or leases or agrees to buy or lease consumer goods or services or credit, including a coguarantor or surety.
- CONSUMER GOODS, SERVICES, CREDIT AND DEBTS
- Those which are primarily for personal, household or family purposes.
- DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICES
- Any false, falsely disparaging or misleading oral or written statement, visual description or other representation of any kind, which has the capacity, tendency or effect of deceiving or misleading consumers and is made in connection with the sale, lease, rental or loan of consumer goods or services, the offering for sale, lease, rental or loan of consumer goods or services, the extension of consumer credit or the collection of consumer debts. Deceptive trade practices include, but are not limited to:
- A. Representations that:
- (1) Goods or services have sponsorship, approval, accessories, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits or quantities that they do not have.
- (2) The seller has a sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation or connection that he does not have.
- (3) Goods are original or new if they are deteriorated, altered, reconditioned, reclaimed or secondhand.
- (4) Goods or services are of a particular standard, quality, grade, style or model, if they are of another.
- B. The use, in any oral or written representation, of exaggeration, innuendo or ambiguity as to a material fact.
- C. Failure to state a material fact if such use or failure deceived or tends to deceive.
- D. Disparaging the goods, services or business of another by false or misleading representations of material facts.
- E. Offering goods or services without intent to sell them.
- F. Offering goods or services without intent to supply reasonably expectable public demand, unless the offer disclosed the limitation.
- G. Making false or misleading representations of fact concerning the reason for, existence of or amounts of price reductions or the price in comparison to prices of competitors or one's own price at a past or future time.
- H. Falsely stating that a consumer transaction involves consumer rights, remedies or obligations.
- I. Falsely stating that services, replacements or repairs are needed.
- J. Falsely stating the reasons for offering or supplying goods or services at sale or discount prices.
- K. The failure by any person engaged in the delivery, pickup, inspection or repair of consumer goods in the home to keep an appointment to perform the delivery of consumer goods and/or services on the day agreed upon with the consumer unless the consumer has received written or verbal notice of delay or cancellation before the end of the preceding business day. This provision shall not apply to the sale or delivery of utility services, home-improvement contractors working under a contract, requests by consumers for same-day emergency service, cancellations of appointments by the consumer, delays caused by the consumer or failures to keep an appointment caused by strike or natural disaster. If unexpected circumstances, such as a mechanical breakdown, preclude notification by the end of the preceding business day, then no violation shall occur if actual notice is given to the consumer as soon as practicably possible.[Added 5-28-1985 by L.L. No. 20-1985]
- Any individual, corporation, unincorporated association, firm, partnership, organization or other entity.
- A manufacturer, supplier, merchant, lessor or creditor or other person who makes consumer goods available to consumers, either directly or indirectly.
- UNCONSCIONABLE TRADE PRACTICE
- Any act or practice which unfairly takes advantage of the
lack of knowledge, ability, experience or capacity of the consumer
or which results in a gross disparity between the value received by
a consumer and the price paid by the consumer. Unconscionable trade
practices shall include any acts or practices which unfairly take
advantage of a sudden disaster, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding,
blizzards, explosions, airplane crashes, earthquakes, nuclear war,
radiological emergencies, war, civil unrest or disobedience or acts
of God, and comparable acts which result in gross disparity between
the value received by a consumer and the price ordinarily paid by
the consumer in the absence of one of these above occurrences. The
existence of such a disaster shall be established, for the purposes
of this chapter, by a written declaration by either the County Executive
or a majority of the entire membership of the County Legislature.
The Commissioner shall initiate investigation of such unconscionable
trade practices immediately after any one of the natural disasters
or other acts of God described above.[Amended 11-12-1985 by L.L. No. 35-1985]
The Commissioner may, after a public hearing, adopt such rules and regulations as may be necessary to effectuate the purposes of this chapter, including regulations defining specific deceptive or unconscionable trade practices. At least seven business days' prior notice of such public hearing shall be published in the official newspapers of the County. A copy of all rules and regulations promulgated hereunder and any amendments thereto shall be filed in the office of the Clerk of the County Legislature.
A violation of any provision of this chapter or of any rule or regulation promulgated hereunder shall be punishable, upon proof thereof, by the payment of a civil penalty not to exceed $750 for a first violation and $1,500 for any subsequent violation, to be recovered in a civil action.
[Amended 3-6-2007 by L.L. No. 5-2007]
Whenever any person has engaged in any acts or practices which constitute repeated or persistent violations of any provision of this chapter or any rule or regulation promulgated hereunder, the County Attorney, upon the request of the Commissioner, may commence an action in the name of the County for a restraining order, temporary or permanent injunction or other equitable relief.
In lieu of instituting or continuing action pursuant to this chapter, the Commissioner may accept written assurance of discontinuance of any act or practice in violation of this chapter. Such assurance may include a stipulation for the voluntary payment by the alleged violator of the costs of investigation for the restitution by the alleged violator to consumers of money, property or other things received from such consumers in connection with a violation of this chapter.
An assurance entered into pursuant to this section shall not be deemed to admit the violation unless it does so by its terms.
A violation of an assurance entered into pursuant to this section shall be treated as a violation of this chapter and shall be subject to all the penalties provided thereof.
Nothing in this chapter shall apply to any television or radio broadcasting station or to any publisher or printer of a newspaper, magazine or other form of printed advertising who broadcasts, publishes or prints the advertisement.