Subway, the restaurant giant, was recently sued by customers who are unhappy with the fact that the chain’s famous “footlong” subs are not, in fact, 12 inches. These customers are claiming false advertising since the sandwiches do not always appear to be exactly a foot long. In fact, in most cases, they believe the sandwiches are only 11″ long–a full inch shorter than the advertised length.
But, as Subway notes, the length of the actual sandwich may vary after baking, kneading, rising, etc. So, while the sandwiches start out as being 12″, some of them may, in fact, shrink slightly in the baking process.
While this lawsuit may not get very far, it does provide a good lesson for business owners: be careful to always deliver on your promises. In this day of outsourcing, most business owners hire outside marketers or advertising groups to help them promote their business. Even small businesses typically have a professional marketing company create their brochures, website, and other promotional materials. But too many business owners fail to carefully consider the claims those 3rd party marketers are making in their printed ads/materials.
For instance, we represented a company a couple of years ago who didn’t realize they were falsely advertising. They had paid a 3rd party marketer to create a nice, glossy brochure which they used extensively. While most of the material in the brochure was spot on, I noticed that there was one claim that did not seem to be true. After looking at their facility, I questioned them whether the claim (which involved a particular selling point of their facility) was actually true. As they looked around their facility, they realized that the claim in their brochure was not, in fact, true. While they had always planned on making improvements to the facility, they had not yet upgraded it in a way that would make the claim in their brochure 100% true. We were able to fix this problem before anyone noticed, but it could have been a potential landmine.
So, let this be a warning: always check your own marketing materials. Make sure that your website, brochures, flyers, business cards, etc., convey the right message–not only one that is catchy and good for sales, but one that is also 100% true.
Note: As always, if you have any Business Law questions, feel free to give us a call at 214-236-2712. Our Richardson Business Lawyers can help provide sound legal advice for your business.