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District of Columbia Deceptive Trade Practices Laws

District of Columbia’s deceptive trade practices laws are stated in District of Columbia Code, Title 28, Subtitle II, Chapter 39.  Under D.C. Code § 28-3904, false advertising is an unlawful trade practice.

Under D.C. Code § 28-3905, a case begins with a complaint filed by a private person to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (“department”).  The complaint should contain the name and address of the complainant, the details of the deceptive trade practice, the name and address of the respondent if known to the complainant, and other information required by the Director of the department.  Upon receiving the complaint the Director of the department will conduct the investigation required for the case.

Remedies available are:

  • treble damage or $1,500 per violation, whichever is greater,
  • reasonable attorney’s fees,
  • punitive damages,
  • injunction,
  • consumer redress remedies, or
  • other relief deemed proper by the court.

D.C. Code § 28-3904 reads in part:

Ҥ 28-3904. Unlawful trade practices
   It shall be a violation of this chapter, whether or not any consumer is in fact misled, deceived or damaged thereby, for any person to:
    (a) represent that goods or services have a source, sponsorship, approval, certification, accessories, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or quantities that they do not have; 
   (b) represent that the person has a sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation, certification, or connection that the person does not have; 
   (c) represent that goods are original or new if in fact they are deteriorated, altered, reconditioned, reclaimed, or second hand, or have been used; 
   (d) represent that goods or services are of particular standard, quality, grade, style, or model, if in fact they are of another; 
   (e) misrepresent as to a material fact which has a tendency to mislead; 
   (f) fail to state a material fact if such failure tends to mislead; 
   (g) disparage the goods, services, or business of another by false or misleading representations of material facts; 
   (h) advertise or offer goods or services without the intent to sell them or without the intent to sell them as advertised or offered; 
   (i) advertise or offer goods or services without supplying reasonably expected public demand, unless the advertisement or offer discloses a limitation of quantity or other qualifying condition which has no tendency to mislead;
    (j) make false or misleading representations of fact concerning the reasons for, existence of, or amounts of price reductions, or the price in comparison to price of competitors or one’s own price at a past or future time;
    (k) falsely state that services, replacements, or repairs are needed;
    (l) falsely state the reasons for offering or supplying goods or services at sale or discount prices;
    (m) harass, or threaten a consumer with any act other than legal process, either by telephone, cards, or letters; 
   (n) cease work on, or return after ceasing work on, an electrical or mechanical apparatus, appliance, chattel or other goods, or merchandise, in other than the condition contracted for, or to impose a separate charge to reassemble or restore such an object to such a condition without notification of such charge prior to beginning work on or receiving such object; 
   (o) replace parts or components in an electrical or mechanical apparatus, appliance, chattel or other goods, or merchandise when such parts or components are not defective, unless requested by the consumer; 
   (p) falsely state or represent that repairs, alterations, modifications, or servicing have been made and receiving remuneration therefore when they have not been made; 
   (q) fail to supply to a consumer a copy of a sales or service contract, lease, promissory note, trust agreement, or other evidence of indebtedness which the consumer may execute;….”


Inside District of Columbia Deceptive Trade Practices Laws