The FTC has issued numerous regulations and guidelines concerning some common types of claims that advertisers like to use — including claims about prices, claims offering free products or services, and claims concerning warranties or guarantees. Advertisements featuring such claims should adhere to the relevant FTC standards.
Price reduction claims. The "former" price specified in the ad must be the actual price at which the product or service was openly and actively offered on a regular basis for a reasonably substantial period of time.
When advertising a price reduction without listing the former price or the amount of the reduction — e.g., an ad that merely states, "Sale" — the price reduction should be enough that a reasonable consumer would regard it as a genuine savings if he or she knew the amount of the reduction.
Comparisons to competitors' prices. A price listed as that offered by a competitor must be based on actual prices charged by competitors.
Savings based on purchase of other merchandise. When an ad makes claims like "Buy One – Get One Free," "2-For-1 Sale," or "Buy one, get 50% off the second," whatever a consumer must purchase to obtain the savings should be available at its regular price — the price at which the advertiser has openly and actively sold the product or service for a reasonable time. The ad should disclose material terms and conditions of the offer.
For more details, see the FTC Guides Against Deceptive Pricing, 16 C.F.R. § 233.
Claims about "free" offers
Advertisers offering free merchandise or services must not attempt to assess a charge indirectly by marking up the price or reducing the quality of any item that must be purchased in order to obtain the free merchandise or service.
If a patient must purchase something to obtain the free offer, the price of the purchased item should be the regular price.
Negotiated sales. If a product or service does not have a regular price — for example, if the price, quality or quantity is usually negotiated — that product should not be used for the purchase that qualifies a patient to obtain "free" services. A negotiated price can be the basis for offering a package of services — for example, "With service, you will receive three additional visits."
Frequency of "free" offers. Like a sale price, a free offer should not be made so often that it appears not to offer genuine savings.
For more details on "free" offers, see the FTC's Guide Concerning Use of the Word ''Free'' and Similar Representations, 16 C.F.R. § 251.
Claims regarding warranties or guarantees
Advertisements of warranties or guarantees for consumer products must disclose that, prior to sale, at the place where the product is sold, prospective purchasers can view the written warranty or guarantee for complete details of the warranty coverage.
A dentist may advertise that a product is covered by warranty or guaranteed only if the seller promptly and fully performs his or her obligations under the warranty or guarantee.
"Satisfaction guaranteed" and similar representations. Ads containing "satisfaction guaranteed" or similar representations must disclose any material limitations or conditions that apply to the guarantee.
A dentist advertising a guarantee must refund the full purchase price of the product at a consumer's request if the consumer satisfies the conditions applicable to the guarantee.
"Lifetime" and similar representations. When using terms such as "lifetime," "life," or similar representations to describe the duration of a warranty or guarantee, a dentist must specify the "life" to which the representation refers.
To view a complete list of FTC standards for warranty and guarantee advertising, see the FTC's Guides For The Advertising Of Warranties And Guarantees, 16 C.F.R. § 239.