(Photo by Mike Mozart on Flickr under CC BY 2.0 - Changes made
More and more businesses are facing the consequences of their deceptive practices. Generally, the companies being put on the spot for their shady behavior are those that caused harm or put their customers’ well-being at risk.
While this behavior may lead us to think of class action lawsuits involving defective products and corporate cover-ups because of corporate greed, less egregious actions still need to be addressed. Corporate misconduct involving pricing scams does not inherently cause physical harm to consumers.
Misleading pricing can directly impact a consumer’s financial status by leading them to believe a false statement. When a store markets something dishonestly and misleads its customers to think one thing when the opposite is the truth, not only can it cause incredible frustration and anger, it can cause customers to alter their spending decisions in favor of the store.
Misleading pricing is enough to make a customer purchase or sign up for a program without understanding the gravity of the situation. While false advertisement might not be as urgent as a product that causes physical harm, it is still a serious offense.
False advertisements can lead to significant financial losses when a customer purchases a product under false pretenses. Ordinarily, a store only deals with a few instances before altering the advertisement campaign to prevent further hiccups and refunding the affected customers. Unfortunately, there are instances where large groups of consumers are simultaneously affected, and the standard procedure is insufficient.
When large groups are adversely affected, it causes enough problems that the only recourse is legal action. Old Navy is one of the more recent companies accused of misleading sales pricing and facing legal repercussions.
No doubt most of our readers are at least peripherally aware of what Old Navy is. It is an American clothing and accessories retailer for those unfamiliar with the company. Old Navy is also a subsidiary of Gap Inc., a multinational corporation specializing in clothing and other accessories.
Old Navy was founded as a result of Gap Inc. attempting to rival the creation of Everyday Hero, a clothing store created by the Dayton-Hudson Corporation to serve as a less expensive equivalent to Gap. To counter the potential losses over cheaper merchandise, Gap Inc. launched Gap Warehouse in 1993 to offer their products at a less expensive rate.
(Photo by Mike Mozart on Flickr under CC BY 2.0 - Changes made
On March 11th, 1994, the following year, Gap Warehouse was relaunched as Old Navy Clothing Co. to distinguish it from the flagship brand. Despite the name change, Old Navy stores remain a contributing subsidiary of Gap Inc. and have followed the same mission statement from its founding.
After many years of strong success, the Old Navy stores began to struggle to compete with H&M, forcing Gap Inc. to hire a new manager to revitalize the subsidiary’s business model in 2012, and by 2015 Old Navy reached $6 billion in annual U.S. sales.
In 2019 Old Navy was supposed to separate from Gap Inc. However, in 2020, the plan to separate the companies was called off. Old Navy LLC remains a subsidiary of Gap Inc, with its headquarters in San Francisco.
For the last 29 years, Old Navy has become a common sight in most malls and other plazas where you can find clothing stores. The brand’s popularity has remained high despite its status as an offshoot of Gap stores.
Unfortunately, the popularity of Old Navy was not enough to protect it from legal controversy. In some ways, it’s that popularity and success as a retailer across the nation that brings the extra attention in the first place.
Recently, an issue involving Old Navy alleges that Old Navy led many customers to believe the list price of their products was misleading and matched the original price. Roughly 70% of the products that were listed as “on-sale” were not on sale.
The misleading sales price lawsuit against Old Navy and settlements is what we will go into about in this article, but let’s first mention an unfortunate Old Navy lawsuit that has been going on simultaneously.
It is also worth noting that Old Navy had an unrelated legal issue that harmed its reputation along the way to its current class action lawsuit.
Yes, a woman named Saudia Scott sued Old Navy LLC for the events that occurred at an Old Navy store in Abington, Maryland, on July 25th, 2016. In the suit, Saudia Scott alleges false imprisonment by a former manager at Old Navy, Megan Yost, on suspicions of shoplifting. Ms. Scott purchased all of the items before she left the store.
However, the Old Navy manager had already called the police to inform them of her suspicions. In the period following the call to the police, Saudia Scott made her purchases with the help of Megan Yost’s checkout line.
So Saudia Scott was already in the parking lot, placing her purchase items in her car, ready to leave when the police arrived. Still only aware of Megan Yost’s original call to the police on her suspicion of Ms. Scott shoplifting. Although Megan Yost was fired almost immediately, the real question was whether Old Navy would be liable for false imprisonment and negligence charges.
Well, the most recent update to that is Ms. Scott successfully filed and won a summary judgment in her favor. The summary judgment against Old Navy was overturned and then reinstated as of July 18th, 2022. Unlike the current price referencing situation, Ms. Scott’s claim is not a class action lawsuit.
While Old Navy has remained a staple of the clothing industry in the United States, it has seen a few moments of controversy in its history. The most recent example is a pricing mishap that led to multiple customers being misled by the pricing system on Old Navy’s website while making an online purchase.
The issue arose on November 12th, 2015, when Old Navy launched a sale on the Old Navy website with unclear and misleading information. Specifically, the sale prices misrepresented the original retail price of the products sold.
The alleged victim of this issue who uncovered this situation was a woman named Anastasha Barba. She claimed that Old Navy intentionally deceived customers about how much money they were saving in Barba v. Old Navy. The allegation is that the sale prices implied buyers would be saving more than they were, and the prices listed on the site were posted in a way that intentionally led customers to that conclusion.
In doing so, Old Navy falsely advertised the sale and led their customers to believe they could save more money on the products they wanted from the Gap subsidiary. Unfortunately, there are no examples of what discrepancies were listed on Old Navy’s website.
Allegedly, Old Navy did this by intentionally misrepresenting the product’s reference price, that is, the original non-sale price.
By Old Navy’s alleged incorrect listing of the reference prices, the sale price’s value would not be consistent with how much the customers thought they were saving by buying during the sale. So, the Old Navy customers may have barely saved anything since the sale price was close to the product’s retail price. Making the actual savings much less than they appeared.
False advertisement is often viewed as something that misleads a customer about a product’s capabilities or the extent of service. This false advertisement that Old Navy allegedly committed essentially tricked customers into spending money they thought they would save.
Old Navy is accused of this in stores and on the Old Navy website. So the concept is that when customers see a larger discounted amount between the original price and sales price, they would think they are getting a good deal by saving more money than they were and buying more at Old Navy. It is difficult to dissect the situation without an intact example, but it was severe enough to reach a courtroom.
Though the problem was brought to light by a single woman who acts as the lead plaintiff, the number of cases has grown, as it seems many customers claim to have experienced the same issue while shopping at the stores. That includes Old Navy outlet stores and online through the Old Navy Website.
While the evidence surrounding the alleged Old Navy sale’s misleading advertisement is not readily available to the general public, it seems the store is being held accountable for the accusation. A class action lawsuit for misleading sale prices closed its doors three months ago. However, you might be wondering how the case is playing out.
While a class action lawsuit against Old Navy was filed, simultaneously representing multiple victims of the misleading prices, the suit limited who could join as class members. The legal system is very particular about what a plaintiff or defendant can do. Every plaintiff in the Old Navy et al. suit must meet specific criteria for their claim to qualify for inclusion.
The most significant requirement is that the only people eligible for representation in the Old Navy class action suit are those who allege they were victimized between November 12th, 2015, and December 2nd, 2021. Anyone citing a claim before or after this timeframe is automatically excluded.
Proof of purchase is not a qualification for the lowest settlement tier, so you don’t have to prove with document evidence, like a purchase receipt, that you made purchases at Old Navy during that time. So this means the “Old Navy Misleading Sales Price class action lawsuit qualifies as being a no-proof class action lawsuit in 2022, which seems to be a trending concept.
You should only participate in a no-proof class action lawsuit settlement truthfully. The harmful repercussions of lying to participate in a no-proof settlement can be lifelong.
While the timeframe exclusion is designed to prevent claimants from hopping aboard the bandwagon when they were never involved in the first place, there are other restrictions. Each restriction prevents false claims from being filed and clogs the justice system’s process.
One of the more apparent restrictions is that the victim must provide a receipt for the purchase they made under the sale’s pretense to qualify for tier 2. Tier 2 is the top tier of the OnPricingSettlement class suit and will provide the largest settlement amount.
That receipt proves they spent the funds on Old Navy merchandise, which makes their stake to join in the OnPricingSettlement class action suit unimpeachable since they have hard evidence of their purchase. They have proof of purchase from an Old Navy or online store itself.
Another restriction is that Old Navy purchases made in Missouri do not qualify for reimbursement under the lawsuit. Aside from these restrictions restricted to the situation, only United States citizens qualify for representation in the class action lawsuit. If you do not meet these criteria, you will be unable to seek compensation from Old Navy and Gap Inc. for the misleading sale price values. Those who qualify for the class action lawsuit were also given a strict timeframe to file their claim against Old Navy.
The OnPricingSettlement case is now closed, and a settlement has been reached between Old Navy and the alleged victims of its false advertising campaign. The cutoff date for new claims was May 31st, 2022. For those involved in the lawsuit, the following deadlines applied regarding the choices they could make:
- Submit a Claim Form: Any victims who wanted to join as a class member and have their claim included in the class action suit needed to file by May 31st, 2022, as previously mentioned. If the victim met the minimum purchase requirements and purchased within the listed timeframe, they could submit a claim form on the settlement website run by the law firm handling the case: ONPricingSettlement.com.
- Exclude Themselves: Any victims who did not want to be a part of the class action lawsuit and instead launched a private lawsuit against Old Navy needed to file an exclusion form by February 16th, 2022. This choice means the claimant does not want to give up their right to bring their own lawsuit against Old Navy for misleading sales prices. So they are reserving the right to bring a suit at a later date.
- Object: Any victims who felt the Old Navy class action settlement was unfair and should not receive the final approval needed to file an objection form by February 16th, 2022.
- Do Nothing: There is no deadline for this choice because by taking no action, potential claimants are not making themselves known to the suit either way. However, giving up all rights is different from objecting to the lawsuit.
The four above choices are common among many types of class action lawsuits.
The qualifying victims also had the option to attend the fairness hearing to assess the class action lawsuit settlement and determine if it was acceptable to all parties. This hearing occurred on March 16th, 2022, and those who wanted to attend were required to file a Notice of Intention.
The restrictions and requirements on a class action lawsuit are extensive but designed to keep them organized and prevent system abuse. Of course, knowing who qualifies is only one detail of the suit. You are probably curious about the type of settlement the plaintiffs are getting.
While class action lawsuits are common enough to have set precedents, especially regarding settlement agreements, most of these are about significant losses that typically exceed thousands of dollars. The money lost on qualifying purchases made via false advertisement is insufficient to warrant major settlements since there were no lost wages or injuries.
These circumstances mean the settlements offered to victims of Old Navy’s false advertising are not designed to recoup more than the funds lost in the purchase.
Since Old Navy’s products are less expensive by design than Gap’s products, on average, there was likely not much money to be lost. As a result, the Onpricingsettlement amounts Old Navy has agreed to offer its customers is store credit to recover the funds they were supposed to save.
(Photo by Mike Mozart on Flickr under CC BY 2.0 - Changes made
The amount offered varies depending on how much was spent in total on the purchase at the time of the sales, whether online or in-store. At a minimum, the claimants must sign that they made purchases at Old Navy during the period in question. Or prove they spent less than $90.00 qualify to receive a settlement purchase certificate for $5.00 as compensation.
The value increases for those who have proof of purchases exceeding a $90.00 value, qualifying them to receive two settlement purchase certificate vouchers equaling a $10.00 coupon worth of in-store credit. While these values might not seem like much, they were deemed sufficient to compensate for the minor financial losses involved in the purchases.
Other costs are associated with filing a lawsuit against parties such as Old Navy. Still, for class action lawsuits, the costs are not high enough for additional funds to be awarded.
The victims of the false prices advertising campaign for the sale could reclaim the funds they claim they were supposed to save while purchasing from Old Navy. Such class action settlements are often used to correct significant oversights that affect large populations like the customer base of Old Navy. Unfortunately, not every case ends successfully for the alleged victims.
Class action lawsuits are a valuable tool for representing large groups of plaintiffs under a unified front. While these class action suits are beneficial, they strain those involved, primarily the citizen plaintiffs who only want compensation for what was lost.
While false advertising might not seem worthy of such force, it can have seriously harmful repercussions on those victimized by the false promises made by corporate entities.
The situation with Old Navy is an excellent example of how alleged false reference prices and misleading advertisements can end up more costly in the long run for the responsible party. Those drawn in by the alleged savings Old Navy sought compensation for the money they lost due to the misleading pricing.
While a class action suit of this nature will not necessarily be the most cost-intensive, there are other scenarios where the cost and stress can be extreme. Other class action lawsuits, such as those involving injuries, death, and harmful products, can place you in a much more financially difficult situation. They often come with unexpected medical expenses and loss of income from being out of work.
Fortunately, we at Express Legal Funding can offer a solution to help you deal with your essential costs while focusing on your case progressing through the legal system. That financial solution is called pre-settlement funding and is a non-recourse cash funding that is advanced for the rights to receive part of a potential settlement or trial award.
So by qualifying for lawsuit funding, we can give you money now to use as you wish in exchange for a portion of your potential case proceeds. The lien is placed on the case monies and not you, the plaintiff.
The Class Action Settlement Process is Slow
When it comes to legal funding for class action lawsuits, the amount of the expected settlement or awarded judgment sent to each class member is crucial to how much a plaintiff can get approved for. However, it is often impossible to give even a rough estimate early on in class action lawsuits, as they are notorious for taking years to reach the first bellwether trial.
So with that in mind, class action lawsuit plaintiffs generally need to be more patient when applying for the amounts of pre-settlement funding they think they can qualify for. This can be challenging as they need the money to pay for the extra costs they have to endure because of the harm that was caused to them by the defendant in the class action suit.
Fortunately, until now, many different class action lawsuit plaintiffs can get approved for multiple lawsuit fundings advanced to them separated by months over several years compared to a personal injury lawsuit that can reach a fair settlement in less than a year. As long the lawsuits will have settlements, lawsuit funding can remain an option.
Every class action suit is different and brings a new set of challenges for the mass tort law firms handling them. The common factor of all class action cases is that many people file claims together, not individually. We at Express Legal Funding can provide legal funding for class action lawsuit cases, so give us a call anytime to learn more and to see if pre-settlement funding is a good option for you.
About the Author
Aaron R. Winston is the Strategy Director of Express Legal Funding. As "The Legal Funding Expert," Aaron has more than ten years of experience in the consumer finance industry. Most of which was as a consultant to a top financial advisory firm, managing 400+ million USD in client wealth. Aaron Winston is recognized as an expert author and researcher across multiple SEO industries.
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