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A consumer who is injured as a result of attempting to purchase goods or services by virtue of an act or practice prohibited by Haw. Rev. Stat. § 480-2 may recover damages under Haw. Rev. Stat. § 480-13. No actual purchase is necessary.
Defendant automobile dealer placed an advertisement in a newspaper that advertised different models of automotive vehicles that could be bought for $ 0 down, and a certain payment per month. Fine print in the advertisement indicated that the rebates were only available to certain buyers. Plaintiff customers went down to the defendant and found a car that they wanted to buy. The defendant told the plaintiffs they need to make a $ 1,400 down payment. When the plaintiffs pointed to the advertisement, the defendant explained that the plaintiffs did not qualify for the $ 0 down program. Plaintiffs sued defendant, alleging false advertising and deceptive trade practices. The trial court held the plaintiffs did not allege that they suffered cognizable damages.
Under the circumstances, could the plaintiffs recover damages, notwithstanding the fact that no actual purchase was made?
The appellate court held that a consumer who was injured as a result of attempting to purchase goods or services by virtue of an act or practice prohibited by Haw. Rev. Stat. § 480-2 could recover damages under Haw. Rev. Stat. § 480-13. No actual purchase was necessary. Thus, any money that the customers expended in responding to the dealer’s advertisement, if proved, satisfied the requirement of "substantial pecuniary loss" necessary to support a claim for fraud.